Nigeria’s government has unleashed deadly violence against the anti-police brutality protests that have rocked the country for nearly two weeks.
On Tuesday night, it sent in soldiers firing live ammunition to massacre peaceful protesters.
Social media posts showed protesters killed and wounded in the military attack on a large crowd in Nigeria’s sprawling commercial capital.
According to media reports, the scale of the massacre was not immediately clear, but witnesses reported to the BBC that they had seen at least 20 bodies and more than 50 wounded at the Lekki Toll gate.
Before the troops moved in, they cut off the lights and the CCTV camera.
There were reports that troops were carrying away bodies to hide the extent of the death toll, while one medical professional reported that wounded were being evacuated from a nearby hospital for fear that the army would come to round them up and kill them.
Lagos authorities Tuesday announced a 24-hour curfew across the city of 20 million, declaring: “We will not watch and allow anarchy in our state.”
Previously, the Nigerian army warned it was prepared to step in against “subversive elements and troublemakers.”
— Raro Lae (@TheRaroLae) October 21, 2020
While the curfew was supposed to begin at 4 pm, the authorities extended the deadline to 9 pm, in the face of mass defiance, which continued into the night.
What began as a movement demanding the dissolution of the hated SARS (Special Anti Robbery Squad)—an elite unit of the Nigerian Police Force known for killing, torturing and extorting Nigerian civilians, particularly the country’s youth—has continued to grow.
The Buhari government claimed last week that it had disbanded SARS—replacing it with a new unit, dubbed Special Weapons and Tactics or SWAT, the same name given to elite police killing squads in the United States.
The president insists that he is committed to “police reform” and that he regards the protesting youth as a father would his children.
The government’s vicious reaction in the streets, however, tells a very different story.
All the Young people who stood their grounds & died at the Lekki Toll gate shootings are the TRUE HEROs of Nigeria.👍
— 𝐊𝐞𝐥echi (@kaycdgreat) October 21, 2020
Dozens of people have lost their lives in the protests, while many more have been detained by the police.