22, October 2020
The African Union on Thursday strongly condemned deadly violence in Nigeria’s biggest city Lagos and called on all parties to “privilege dialogue”.
African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat “strongly condemns the violence that erupted on 20 October 2020 during protests in Lagos, Nigeria that has resulted in multiple deaths and injuries”, his office said in a statement.
“The Chairperson appeals to all political and social actors to reject the use of violence and respect human rights and the rule of law,” the statement said.
Mahamat’s comments came as protests escalated in Lagos, following the shooting of peaceful protesters by security forces earlier this week.
At least 12 people were killed by the Nigerian army and police in two locations in Lagos on Tuesday in a deadly crackdown on demonstrations, Amnesty International said.
Peaceful protesters had gathered despite a curfew imposed to end spiralling protests over police brutality and deep-rooted social grievances.
“Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports confirm that between 6:45pm (1745 GMT) and 9:00pm (2000 GMT) on Tuesday 20 October, the Nigerian military opened fire on thousands of people,” Amnesty said in a statement.
The Lagos governor at first insisted no fatalities had been recorded but later said the authorities were investigating the death of one person resulting from “blunt force trauma to the head”.
He said at least 25 people were wounded.
Masks and army uniforms
Demonstrator Paul Sunday who was at the scene told AFP that the men who shot at the crowd were wearing masks and had army uniforms.
“They attacked us from back and front,” he said. “They came around 7pm when everywhere is dark.”
Pictures and videos showing scenes of chaos in the aftermath of the shooting were widely shared on social media.
The shooting drew international condemnation, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet saying reports suggested it could have been premeditated.
“There is little doubt that this was a case of excessive use of force, resulting in unlawful killings with live ammunition, by Nigerian armed forces,” she said.
“Reports that CCTV cameras and lighting were deliberately disabled prior to the shooting are even more disturbing as, if confirmed, they suggest this deplorable attack on peaceful protestors was premeditated, planned and coordinated.”
Human Rights Watch corroborated reports that the Nigerian army had opened fire on the crowd in “a shooting spree”.
“The authorities should immediately withdraw the military from the streets,” said Anietie Ewang, a Nigeria researcher with the rights group.
Source: France 24