LAGOS | Nigeria woke up in shock Wednesday morning after an attack on peaceful protesters by armed forces in Lagos that left at least 25 injured and several dead.
“Black Tuesday”, “Bloody Tuesday” posted the headlines of several Nigerian press titles and, on social networks, calls for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari, carried in particular by the star of Nigerian music Davido and his millions of subscribers, multiplied.
More than 1,000 protesters gathered peacefully on a toll in Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria, were dispersed Tuesday evening by live ammunition, after the entry into force of a total curfew imposed to extinguish the popular protest movement which has been reaching the country for more than 10 days.
Gunshots were heard around the tollgate late at night and until Wednesday morning by an AFP journalist, while the business districts of the Lagos Islands were completely empty, and all shops closed.
Several demonstrators were killed on Tuesday evening, the NGO Amnesty International told AFP on Tuesday evening, which was still trying “to determine their exact number”.
25 injured are currently being treated in three hospitals in the city, said the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, adding that he visited them in the morning.
“The responsibility for this unfortunate incident lies with me and I will work with the federal government to define what happened,” he tweeted on Wednesday, saying that the crackdown has “escaped” his “control” .
The Nigerian military has denied on Twitter that it was behind the shooting, but videos widely shared on social media show men in military uniform firing live ammunition.
Joe Biden and Rihanna
On Tuesday, police announced the immediate nationwide deployment of their riot unit as protests in several cities escalated. In Lekki, where the incidents took place, the protests have always been peaceful.
On Wednesday morning, outrage spread to the web, far beyond the borders of Nigeria.
US presidential candidate Joe Biden called on “President Buhari and the Nigerian military to stop the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already claimed several lives,” in a message written on his website.
“The United States must stand with Nigerians demonstrating peacefully for police reform and an end to corruption in their democracy,” he added.
“I can’t stand seeing the torture and brutality that continues to plague our nations,” US superstar Rihanna wrote on Twitter. “My heart is broken for Nigeria (…) I am so proud of your strength and not to let down your fight for what is right”, added the singer, to her nearly 100 million subscribers.
This unprecedented mobilization in Nigeria was born in early October on social networks to denounce police violence and has gradually turned into a movement against the power in place and bad governance.
At least 18 people, including two police officers, have died in these marches since the start of the movement.