World, Africa

UN condemns killing of protesters in Nigeria

Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet calls for 'root and branch' reforms of Nigeria's security forces

Felix Tih   | 22.10.2020
UN condemns killing of protesters in Nigeria

ANKARA

The UN has strongly condemned the use of “excessive and disproportionate” force by Nigerian armed forces on people protesting police brutality in the commercial capital Lagos.

In a statement late Wednesday, Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights, urged “Nigerian authorities to take urgent steps to deal decisively with the underlying problem of persistent violations committed by the security forces, and make a far stronger effort to bring police and army personnel guilty of crimes against civilians to justice.”

At least 12 people were killed and “hundreds severely injured” in Lagos at the Lakki Gate protesting ground during a face-off with multiple gunmen on Tuesday night, according to Amnesty International.

The incident followed violent demonstrations against police brutality in the southern Edo State that saw the destruction of houses and vehicles in its northern city of Kano on Tuesday.

“While the number of casualties of yesterday’s [Tuesday] shooting at the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos is still not clear, 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,” Bachelet said.

“Nigeria was already at boiling point before this shooting because of the revelations about years of unchecked violence, including alleged killings, rape, extortion and other violations, by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS),” she added.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), an influential regional bloc, also urged Nigerian security forces to "exercise restraint" in handling protests and to act professionally and also called on protesters to “remain peaceful” in their demonstrations.

Some protesters on Wednesday morning set fire to the headquarters of TV Continental, a leading broadcaster. Journalists on site said they suspended news broadcasts as demonstrators stormed the TV station.

The protests against police brutality, which started almost two weeks ago, has continued to gain momentum in most cities of the country, forcing the government to declare a 24-hour curfew in some states on Wednesday.

In a statement on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the escalation of violence in Lagos.

“I call for demonstrations to be peaceful and for an end to reported police brutality & abuses. Authorities must investigate these incidents & hold perpetrators accountable,” Guterres tweeted.

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