Amnesty International has punctured claims by Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu, the Governor of Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial capital, on casualty figures after soldiers opened fire on peaceful protesters in Lekki Tollgate area of the state.
Sanwoolu, who blamed “forces beyond our direct control,” for the military assault, earlier claimed that no life was lost to the Lekki incident. He later confirmed that one of the victims later died at an hospital in Lagos.
The global human right group however declared that its on-the-ground investigation has confirmed that the Nigerian Army and police killed at least 12 #EndSARS protesters on Tuesday at Alausa and Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State.
The protests, which had been peaceful, got violent after hoodlums and security agents cracked down on unarmed protesters.
Soldiers shot at the protesters at the toll gate on Tuesday.
Sanwoolu at the hospital
Over twenty-four hours after the attack, the presidency is yet to comment on the incident.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Amnesty International also reported that hundreds are severely injured as a result of the protests. It said about 38 were killed on Tuesday alone.
The rights group alleged that CCTV cameras at the Lekki toll gate were dismantled before the shooting to cover up murder.
Amnesty, which said at least 56 people have died across the country since the protest began on October 8, 2020, called on the Nigerian government to immediately investigate the incident and prosecute suspected perpetrators through fair trials.
“An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International has confirmed that the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters yesterday at two locations in Lagos. The killings took place in Lekki and Alausa, where thousands were protesting police brutality as part of the #EndSars movement,” the group said.
“Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports confirm that between 6:45pm and 9:00pm on Tuesday 20 October, the Nigerian military opened fire on thousands of people who were peacefully calling for good governance and an end to police brutality.
“Witnesses at the Lekki protest grounds told Amnesty international that solders arrived at about 6:45pm local time on Tuesday evening, and opened fire on #EndSars protesters without warning.
Eyewitnesses at Alausa protest ground said they were attacked by a team of soldiers and policemen from the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) Unit at about 8:00 pm, leaving at least two people dead and one critically injured.
“Amnesty International received reports that shortly before the shootings, CCTV cameras at the Lekki toll gate, where #EndSARS protesters had been camped for two weeks, were removed by government officials and the electricity was cut – a clear attempt to hide evidence.
As in previous cases documented by Amnesty International, some of those killed and injured at both grounds were allegedly taken away by the military.
“Amnesty International has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSars protest began on 8 October 2020. At least 56 people have died across the country since the protest began, with about 38 killed on Tuesday alone.
“Victims include protesters and thugs who were allegedly hired by the authorities to confront the protesters. In many cases the security forces had used excessive force in an attempt to control or stop the protests.
“Opening fire on peaceful protesters is a blatant violation of people’s rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Soldiers clearly had one intention – to kill without consequences,” Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International Nigeria added.
“These shootings clearly amount to extrajudicial executions. There must be an immediate investigation and suspected perpetrators must be held accountable through fair trials.
Authorities must ensure access to justice and effective remedies for the victims and their families.”