21st October 2020
Nigerian nationals living in South Africa have taken to the streets to join the global protests against police brutality in their country, marching to the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria on Wednesday morning.
In Lagos meanwhile, authorities have declared a 24-hour curfew as violence flared in widespread protests that have been happening across the country.
According to Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, only essential service providers and first responders would be allowed on the streets from 4 pm on Tuesday.
The eNCA reports that at least 18 people have died in recent demonstrations that saw key roads and access to the international airport being blocked by crowds.
A report by AFP described a violent dispersion of crowds in Abuja, whereby black smoke was visible over the city as security forces fired warning shots and tear gas.
According to IOL, Soldiers opened fire on Nigerians protesting in the Lekki district of Lagos on Tuesday night.
The Nigerian Army tweeted a denial of any military presence in the area despite multiple eyewitness accounts and several posts on social media showing the chaos in Lekki.
Inyene Akpan, 26, a photographer, told IOL that more than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire and said he saw two people being shot.
Akinbosola Ogunsanya, another IOL witness, said he saw around 10 people being shot.
Ogunsanya also said that lights went out shortly before the soldiers arrived and reportedly saw soldiers remove bodies.
Protests began 12 days ago against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad division of the police in Nigeria, which according to locals, regularly violated the human rights of members of the public.
Allegations of extortion, harassment, murder, kidnapping, assault, and the torture of innocent citizens have also been made against the police unit.
The protests are believed to have been sparked by a video that began circulating on social media in early October, allegedly showing SARS officers shooting a man in southern Delta state for no apparent reason.
The Nigerian government announced that it would scrap SARS and begin implementing reforms to the police, but many demonstrators that journalists spoke to expressed skepticism of the 'paper-thin promises' officials made.
The Nigeria Union of South Africa announced a peaceful march to the High Commission of Nigeria in Arcadia, Pretoria.
"A memorandum will be submitted to the Nigerian High Commissioner, Ambassador Kabir Bala. We have been following the protest with keen interest to see what direction the Nigerian government will follow," said NUSA President Adetola Olubajo.
The hashtags #LekkiMassacre and #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeriaNOW were trending on Twitter on Wednesday, sparking an international response in outrage.
An image of a bloodied Nigerian flag reportedly used to carry one of the protestors who was injured during the altercation with authorities in Lekki, is in circulation across social media platforms as a harrowing depiction of the situation in Nigeria.