LAGOS: Buildings were torched in Nigeria's biggest city Lagos on Wednesday (Oct 21) as authorities shut down the economic hub after the shooting of peaceful protesters by security forces caused international outrage.
At least 12 people were killed by the Nigerian army and police in two locations in Lagos on Tuesday in a deadly crackdown on demonstrations, Amnesty International said.
Peaceful protesters had gathered despite a curfew imposed to end spiralling protests over police brutality and deep-rooted social grievances.
"Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports confirm that between 6:45pm and 9:00pmon Tuesday 20 October, the Nigerian military opened fire on thousands of people," Amnesty said in a statement.
The Lagos governor at first insisted no fatalities had been recorded but later said the authorities were investigating the death of one person resulting from "blunt force trauma to the head".
He said at least 25 others were wounded.
Demonstrator Paul Sunday who was at the scene told AFP that the men who shot at the crowd were wearing masks and had army uniforms.
"They attacked us from back and from front," he said. "They came around 7pm when everywhere is dark."
Pictures and videos showing scenes of chaos in the aftermath of the shooting were widely shared on social media.
The shooting drew international condemnation, with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet saying reports suggested it could have been premeditated.
"There is little doubt that this was a case of excessive use of force, resulting in unlawful killings with live ammunition, by Nigerian armed forces," she said.
"Reports that CCTV cameras and lighting were deliberately disabled prior to the shooting are even more disturbing as, if confirmed, they suggest this deplorable attack on peaceful protestors was premeditated, planned and coordinated."
Human Rights Watch corroborated reports that the Nigerian army had opened fire on the crowd in "a shooting spree".
"The authorities should immediately withdraw the military from the streets," said Anietie Ewang, a Nigeria researcher with the rights group.
The Nigerian army did not respond to AFP's requests for comment but on Twitter it called reports of soldiers firing on protesters "fake news".
The centre of Lagos, a sprawling city that is home to 20 million people, was largely deserted and shops closed on Wednesday under a curfew.
An AFP journalist said several buildings were burnt around the area of the shooting and remnants of violence – broken glass, torn banners – could be seen.
A few people were drifting around, but Lekki Toll Gate had emptied out, only graffiti denouncing police violence and bad governance remained.
A dozen soldiers and heavily armed police officers patrolled nearby.
In another district a bus station was set ablaze and there were sporadic clashes between bottle-throwing youths and police, who occasionally shot into the air.
A TV station linked to one of the ruling party's most powerful politicians was also torched.
Concerned by the escalating violence reported on Wednesday in a string of cities including Lagos, the International Committee for the Red Cross called for restraint.
"It is of paramount importance that first responders and ambulances are respected by all, so they can reach injured people safely," said Eloi Fillion, head of the ICRC delegation in Nigeria.
Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a televised broadcast, ordered all "state activities" to be halted across the city forRead More – Source