n recent days, protests against police violent law enforcement broke out in several cities in Nigeria. Several witnesses said that on the 20th local time, Nigerian soldiers shot at protesters in the Lekki district of Lagos city, and at least two were hit. Due to increased tensions, the governor of Lagos State stated that it will implement a 24-hour martial law in Lagos State from the 20th. On the same day, the Nigerian government stated that on the 19th, protesters attacked two prisons in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, resulting in the escape of about 2,000 prisoners.
According to a Reuters report on the 21st, thousands of Nigerians have been protesting and demonstrating across the country for nearly two weeks. The object of their protest was a police force called the “Anti-Robbery Special Operations Team,” which has been accused by multiple human rights organizations of racketeering, harassment, abuse, and murder over the years. Although the force was disbanded on October 11, the protesters still insisted on protesting and demonstrating, calling on the Nigerian government to promote a series of law enforcement reforms.
The report quoted a witness who said: “They (soldiers) shot at the demonstrators and I saw one or two bullets hit.” Another witness, 26-year-old photographer Inyene Akpan, said at the time. More than 20 soldiers came to the toll booth in the Lekki area and opened fire. A total of two were shot. Another witness pointed out that he heard police sirens and gunshots.
The video verified by Reuters showed that someone lined up towards the demonstrators. A truck with flashing lights was behind them and gunshots could be heard. Another video showed demonstrators waving Nigerian flags at toll booths and people fleeing amid gunfire. At present, the status of the two suspected shots remains unclear.
In response to the above incidents, the Nigerian military stated on Twitter that no soldiers had been to the scene of the incident in the Lekki district on the evening of the 20th. The governor of Lagos State Babajid Sanuru posted a photo of him visiting the wounded in the hospital on Twitter. He called the incident “an unfortunate shooting in the Lekki district.” He said that there are currently 25 people undergoing treatment in the hospital. The injuries of these people range from mild to moderate. Two are in the intensive care unit and three have been discharged.
Reuters reported that San Ulu also issued a statement on the 20th that from 16:00 on October 20 (23:00 on the 20th, Beijing time), a 24-hour martial law will be implemented in Lagos State. He emphasized in the statement that at present, peaceful protests have evolved into “monsters” that threaten the well-being of society. Criminals and thugs are using these protests as a cover to create chaos. In the statement, Sanur did not mention the end date of martial law.
According to “Deutsche Welle”, no one is allowed to stay on the streets during the martial law except for basic service personnel and emergency personnel. “Martial law will not end tomorrow… Until we lift martial law, no one will move.” Lagos State Governor spokesperson said.
It is worth noting that Lagos is the fifth state in Nigeria to announce such measures in the past two days. In addition, due to the increase in attacks on police facilities, the Nigerian National Police Chief has ordered the deployment of anti-riot forces across the country.
In addition, according to French 24-hour television news, Nigerian Ministry of Interior spokesman Mohammed Manga said on the 20th that armed groups had attacked two locations in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, on the 19th. Prison facilities and uniformed guards on duty, causing 1993 prisoners to escape and disappear. The total number of prisoners in the prison before the attack is unclear.
Manga said in a statement that these prisoners were being held in these two prisons for committing a variety of crimes, some of them were on death row waiting to be executed, and some were awaiting trial for violent crimes.