Nigeria: a handful of demonstrators arrested at the symbolic toll of Lekki

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Nigerian police on Saturday in Lagos arrested a small group of a dozen people trying to assemble at the Lekki tollgate, where several protesters were shot dead by security forces last October.

Several figures from the #EndSARS movement against police violence, which swept Nigeria in October, called for this toll to be occupied on Saturday to demand justice for the victims, after a court decision to authorize its reopening.

The police, deployed since Friday evening at the toll booth, embarked a dozen demonstrators in a van, noted an AFP journalist.

There were no other demonstrators and traffic was flowing normally.

“The Lekki tollgate should be turned into a museum of resistance and not into a monument dedicated to making money,” said Damilare Adebola, 24, from the police van.

Nigerian authorities this week warned those planning to demonstrate in Lekki on Saturday against “a very high risk of violence.”

Several large cities in Africa’s most populous country were rocked in October by a wave of demonstrations demanding the dismantling of a police unit, the Special Anti-Theft Squad (SARS), accused of multiple abuses.

After the dissolution of SARS, protests continued against police violence in general, and even against the government. Violence has sometimes erupted, attributed by some demonstrators to thugs paid according to them by the authorities to intimidate or discredit the movement.

On October 20 in Lagos, security forces fired on the peaceful crowd at the Lekki tollgate, the epicenter of the protest in the economic capital, killing at least 10 people, according to Amnesty International.

The security forces for their part ensure that they only used blank bullets to disperse demonstrators braving the curfew.

The movement came to an abrupt halt after the shooting and the week of violence and looting that followed.

An open investigation into the violence in Lekki has stalled, as representatives of the security forces did not appear before the commission.