LAGOS. — Nigerian security forces have opened fire on hundreds of protesters in Lagos, as rallies against police brutality continued in defiance of a 24-hour curfew imposed by the government earlier in the day.
Graphic scenes posted on social media showed protesters fleeing as security forces, including soldiers, shot live rounds towards the crowds.
At least seven people were killed according to DJ Switch, a popular disc jockey, who broadcast live from the scene on Instagram. Protesters were seen struggling to remove shrapnel from injured protesters and in one case failing to resuscitate a casualty.
In other videos protesters carrying bloodied Nigerian flags are seen pleading with security officials to allow medics to treat victims.
“They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,” Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer told Reuters. “I saw the bullet hit one or two persons.”
Lagos state government said it would open an investigation into the shooting, which witnesses said took place around 7pm.
Fears had grown of increased unrest after a curfew was imposed by Lagos’s governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, earlier in the day in an attempt to shut down protests against the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) police unit that have erupted across Nigeria.
Thousands have taken to the streets in recent weeks against the federal Sars unit, now dissolved but long accused of extra-judicial killings, torture and extortion.
More broadly the demonstrations have railed against systemic abuse by Nigerian police forces, but they have in turn been met by violence.
Last week, the Nigerian army warned it was ready to step in against “subversive elements and troublemakers”, while police have repeatedly fired on protesters across Nigeria. Armed gangs have attacked protesters in Lagos and the capital Abuja.
The demonstrations had “degenerated into a monster threatening the wellbeing of our society”, said Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos, in a statement on Tuesday after a police station was set on fire in the Iganmu area of Lagos on Tuesday morning. The national police chief also ordered the immediate deployment of anti-riot forces following increased attacks on police facilities, a police spokesman said. — Africanews.