Nigerian soldiers opened fire on demonstrators protesting against police brutality in Lagos and at least two people were shot, according to several witnesses, as authorities imposed a curfew and promised an investigation.
Four witnesses told reported that soldiers fired at the protesters who had gathered in the Lekki district of Nigeria’s largest city in defiance of an indefinite curfew imposed hours earlier by the authorities.
Hundreds of people were at the site at the time of the shooting, which witnesses said took place around 7pm (18:00 GMT).
“They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,” said Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer. “I saw the bullet hit one or two persons,” he said.
Inyene Akpan, 26, a photographer, said more than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire. He said he saw two people being shot. Akinbosola Ogunsanya, a third witness, also said he saw soldiers remove bodies adding that he would give a state broadcast on Wednesday morning.
Earlier, Sanwo-Olu alleged that criminals had hijacked the protest movement “to unleash mayhem” and announced a curfew in the city.
The state government earlier said it would open an investigation into the shooting. A Nigerian army spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lagos is one of five of Nigeria’s 36 states to have announced movement restrictions in the last two days. Protesters pledged to remain on Lagos’s streets regardless.
“Are you afraid?” a man shouted to the flag-waving crowd from a stage. “We will stay here peacefully,” 32-year-old demonstrator Akin clamoured. “This is our new home.”
Separately on Tuesday, the national police chief ordered the immediate deployment of anti-riot forces nationwide following increased attacks on police facilities, according to a police spokesman.
Tens of thousands of people have been taking to the streets every day for nearly two weeks across Nigeria to demand an end to police violence.
The protests, organised under the #EndSARS hashtag, began with calls to scrap a notorious police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which has long been accused of extortion, torture and extrajudicial killings.
After days of widespread demonstrations, the authorities announced SARS would be disbanded, ordering all personnel to report to the police headquarters in Abuja for debriefing and psychological and medical examinations.
Officials said SARS would be replaced by a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team in which the announcement is not so appealing to the protesters. Africanewsguru update.