The crackdown by security forces on more than 1,000 demonstrators gathered in Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria, left several dead, according to Amnesty International, and many wounded by gunshots, according to testimonies gathered by AFP on the spot.
“Several protesters were killed, we are trying to find out exactly how many,” Isa Sanusi, spokesperson for the NGO, told AFP.
Many wounded were taken to several private hospitals in the city which had opened their doors to demonstrators.
“I have two people with me in my car, a woman and a man, in critical condition,” Innocent A., one of the protest participants, told AFP.
“I have already dropped two people off at Lagoon Hospital [à Ikoyi], one was shot in the back, and the other in the stomach, “he said. “These are the four people I was able to take care of, the rest I don’t know. “
More than 1000 demonstrators gathered peacefully on a toll in Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria, were dispersed Tuesday evening by “numerous” shootings, after the entry into force of a total curfew in an attempt to extinguish a popular movement which continues to expand across the country.
“All the protesters were seated peacefully, and after dark the street lights and billboards went out suddenly,” said Toye, a 32-year-old protester.
“Everyone shouted and men came and started shooting and everyone ran for their lives,” she told AFP.
Many people appeared injured in videos posted on social networks by demonstrators who recorded more than 100,000 “views” live. A man was bleeding as many other demonstrators did not appear to want to leave the area surrounded by police and security patrols, according to these images and testimonies collected on the spot.
At 4:00 p.m., when the curfew officially took effect in Lagos, a thousand protesters sat down at the Lekki tollgate they have occupied for over a week, waving flags to signify their “non-violence. “.
“Are you worried? No ! We will die here! Chanted a cheering crowd, according to AFP reporters on site.
“We survived the confinement, we will survive the curfew”, “We will no longer remain silent” or “The youth is building Nigeria”, could be read on their signs.
Protests against power
Youth protests against police violence have spread to protests against power and for twelve days, thousands of young Nigerians have been pounding the streets in the big cities of Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and the leading economic power in the country. continent.
At least 18 people, including 2 police officers, died in the marches, which until recently had been largely peaceful.
The Inspector General of Police on Tuesday afternoon ordered the immediate deployment of a riot police unit across the country “to protect Nigerians and their property, and to secure much needed national infrastructure.”
Earlier in the morning, very angry young people had taken control of almost all roads in the economic capital. In the west of the city, a police station was set on fire, shots were fired and several people were shot and wounded, witnesses told AFP.
“The peaceful protests have escalated into a monster,” state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on Twitter before the full curfew was announced. “Criminals and scoundrels are now hiding under the aegis of this demonstration to bring about chaos,” he said.
Serious clashes also broke out in the capital Abuja, where dozens of vehicles and buildings were set on fire, and where police were deployed, according to an AFP journalist.
In the north of the country, in Kano, unrest also erupted on Tuesday. Hundreds of young people took to the streets, and some burned cars and businesses, according to an AFP reporter.
This unprecedented mobilization in Nigeria – which was born in early October on social networks to denounce police violence – has gradually turned into a movement against the power in place and bad governance.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who announced earlier last week the dismantling of a controversial police unit and pledged police reform, has not spoken since.
In addition to better representation of youth in the political arena, protesters in processions demanded wage increases and more jobs.
The first economic power on the African continent thanks to its oil, Nigeria is also the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty in the world.
The youth unemployment rate is massive there, and the global economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has not helped. The country expects to return to recession for the second time since 2016.