Soldiers uninstall CCTV cameras, open fire on #EndSARS protesters in Lagos ─Eyewitnesses

*Witnesses say soldiers ‘started firing ammunition toward crowd; they were firing into the crowd’ after disconnecting electricity supply to the area

*Hoodlums set ablaze 3 commercial bank branches along Admiralty Way, Lekki

*Nigerians slam President Buhari, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for allowing Army, Police to shoot at peaceful protesters

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As the nationwide protest marches against Police brutality, intimidation and abuse of human rights continue in Nigeria, soldiers opened fire on #EndSARS protesters in the Lekki area of Lagos State Tuesday, October 20, around 7 p.m. (1800 GMT), shooting at least two people, according to eyewitnesses.

ConsumerConnect reports that thousands of Nigerians, especially the youths have demonstrated every day for almost two weeks against the ill-reputed Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigeria Police, which human rights groups had repeatedly accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders over the years.

Alfred Ononugbo, a security officer, also told Reuters that “they started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd.

“I saw the bullet hit one or two persons.”

Inyene Akpan, who is a photographer, said more than 20 soldiers arrived at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, and opened fire on the #EndSARS protesters.

Akpan stated that he saw two people being shot in the process.

Akinbosola Ogunsanya, a third witness, said he saw around 10 people being shot.

He also said he saw soldiers remove bodies of the injured protesters.

A Nigerian Red Cross Society official was quoted to have said that at least two civilians were shot dead in the incident, adding, with at least six other deaths in the country Tuesday.

Incidentally, the shooting came hours after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State announced a 24-hour curfew to try and end disruptions in a region that’s home to over 20 million people and houses the headquarters of Nigeria’s biggest banks.

A collage of the ensuing confusion at Lekki Tuesday night   Photo: Channels TV 

It was gathered that before the armed security operatives started firing on the crowd, some state government officials ostensibly uninstalled the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the area.

Electricity supply to the protest area was also disconnected to prevent demonstrators from filming the attack, reports stated.

However, about 10 videos of the chaotic scenes of the incident said to have been shot and live-streamed on Instagram and Twitter, showed scenes of people running in near darkness, and the sound of what appeared to be gunfire in the ensuing confrontation.

Report indicates that the health condition of those injured was not immediately known moments after the incident in the country’s commercial hub.

It was, nevertheless, learnt that at least 28 injured protesters had started receiving treatment in hospitals on Lagos Island.

Governor Sanwo-Olu also disclosed this in a series of tweets Wednesday, October 21 the injured victims were receiving medical treatment across three hospitals in the state.

He stated that 10 victims are being treated at the General Hospital, 11 at Reddington, and four hospitalised at Vedic medical facility.

Three patients have so far been discharged from the hospital, while 25 others were on admission in the hospitals as of the time of report.

The governor said: “This is the toughest night of our lives as forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history, but we will face it and come out stronger.”

He also gave an assurance that the state government would continue to monitor and ensure that all the injured victims were given the best care.

A competent source confirmed to ConsumerConnect that a doctor at the private Reddington Hospital, on Victoria Island, Lagos, disclosed that the injured people were being treated for gunshot wounds.

The doctor, who did not want to be identified, however, did not specify the number of people being treated.

But Sanwo-Olu, in a special state-wide broadcast on the recent happenings in Lagos State, and monitored on Eko FM radio station Wednesday, October 21 morning, said that some of the injured protesters in the shootings at Lekki had been discharged from the hospital.

According to Amnesty International (AI), at least 15 people had been killed since the nationwide protests erupted Monday, October 5, 2020, in Africa’s most populous country.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has said that it will open an investigation into the shooting.

Earlier, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, Spokesman for Governor Sanwo-Olu, in tweets had stated:  “There have been reports of shooting at the Lekki Toll Plaza.

“The State Government has ordered an investigation into the incident.

The State Government Tuesday imposed a 24-hour curfew on Lagos in response to the persistent protests, which the governor said had turned violent.

Governor Sanwo-Olu visits some the injured protesters in Lagos hospital  Photo: Channels TV

Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, the State Honourable Commissioner for Information and Strategy, in a statement Tuesday night, also said: “There have been reports of shooting at the Lekki Toll Plaza following the 24-hour curfew imposed on Lagos State to stop criminals who hid under the #EndSARS protests to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens.

“The state government has ordered an investigation into the incident.

“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has advised the security agents not to arrest anyone on account of the curfew, which he urges residents to observe for the peaceful atmosphere we all cherish.”

Omotoso stated the governor advised Lagosians to “remain calm and not allow criminals who have hijacked the noble protest of our gallant youths to succeed in their evil plan of turning our dear state upside down.

“The governor will do everything within his power to ensure that the lives of all Lagosians are protected at all times.”

Hitherto, the protests had been largely peaceful, with the government issuing a directive to its security forces not to use violence.

It is recalled that the weeks-long protests were sparked by a video that began circulating in early October, which showed SARS where officers allegedly were shooting a man in southern Delta State of the country.

Though the Police authorities denied the shooting, SARS was disbanded Sunday, October 11, but protests have persisted in Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

In the meantime, Nigerians have taken to Social Media platforms to attack President Buhari and Governor Sanwo-Olu for allowing the Army and Police operatives to shoot at peaceful protesters in the Lekki Toll Gate area of the cosmopolitan state.

A Twitter user wrote: “Sanwo-Olu, you will cry. You will weep. You will suffer. I don’t know how. I don’t know when.”

Another user @DrOlufunmilayo, also wrote that “the Nigerian Army was ordered to go to Lagos. The state governor switched off lights and took down CCTVs.

“Young people unarmed were sitting on the floor singing the National Anthem. Soldiers shot and killed them.

“Tonight, our flag is soaked in blood by Buhari and Sanwo-Olu.”

@adesinaadesola8 commented that “the order of killing an unarmed democratic peaceful protester is from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu himself.

“What is the investigation that he wants to carry out? He has killed more than forty people at Lekki Toll Gate this night with the instruction given to soldiers.”

In a related development, three new generational bank buildings have been set ablaze along the Admiralty Way at Lekki, in Lagos.

The three affected financial institutions have been identified as Polaris Bank Limited, GTBank and Access Bank branches located in the area.

It was gathered that business premises, shopping malls and shops were looted by suspected hoodlums in the process.

The was reported to have occurred  Tuesday night following shootings by armed security agents at #EndSARS protesters demonstrating against Police brutality, harassment and intimidation of the citizenry in the Lekki Toll Gate area.

Additional reporting by Alexander Davis

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