Following the President’s speech on Thursday 22nd October 2020, tensions in Nigeria continue to rise in response to police firing shots to disperse protestors demanding the abolition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and its replacement combatant unit called Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).
Commenting, Ene Obi, Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, said:
"Chaos has been unleashed on the streets of Nigeria and many have lost their lives or are now in hospital. The protests started off as being one of the most beautiful mass movements ever seen in the history of Nigeria. Although it was devoid of any known leadership, the level of coordination by young people working with feminist voices to project their demands is amazing and worthy of applause."
"But since last week, we have seen violence unleashed onto our young, peaceful protesters. Tuesday (20th October 2020) was one of the most bloody in Lagos, Kano, Jos, Abuja and many other cities. At Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, where a huge number of protesters were quietly seated, albeit in defiance of the curfew in place, a squad of military suddenly came and opened fire directly, killing many and injuring several others. It seemingly looked like a war zone with Lagos Airport shut until further notice and the Nigerian Army still in patrol across various locations.
"The current level of impunity cannot continue. ActionAid Nigeria applauds the tenacity of the young people airing their grievances on rights violations and urgently calls for clear reform plans with timelines and commitments to be drawn up and implemented in collaboration with the critical stakeholders. We also need citizen-friendly security cover so that when next protests take place, it will be devoid of chaos and casualties."
"As things stand, decorum should be maintained in order to prevent Nigeria from slipping into avoidable anarchy. Under no circumstances should lethal weapons ever be used to disperse, let alone kill, unarmed peaceful protesters as it is inhuman, cruel and a gross violation of national and international laws."
For more information, including interviews with Ene Obi who is based in Abuja, email email@example.com or call the media team on: 07753 973 486.
Notes to Editors:
ActionAid is an international charity that works with women and girls living in poverty. Our dedicated local staff are helping end violence against women and girls and changing lives, for good. We won’t stop until women and girls are out of danger, out of poverty and on track to create the future they want.