AU Commission condemns killings during Nigeria protests

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari spoke to the nation about the unrest that has gripped the country in recent days without making any mention of the shootings of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll plaza on Tuesday night that prompted worldwide outrage.

Rights group Amnesty International said security forces killed at least 12 people in Lagos on Tuesday.

In his speech on Thursday, Buhari did not mention the shooting.

I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. "Under no circumstances will this be tolerated", he said. "Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding".

A protester holds a stained Nigerian flag along a road during a protest against the Nigeria rogue police, otherwise know as Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Protests demanding accountability and structural reform have continued across Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the USA and beyond.

The shooting of protesters has prompted a wave of criticism of Nigerian authorities and the behavior of its security forces.

The Nigerian army took to Twitter repeatedly on Wednesday, labeling various reports about Tuesday's alleged incident as "fake news".

Violent unrest erupted Wednesday in Lagos as mobs vandalized and burned police stations, courthouses, TV stations and a hotel.

The President noted that while demonstrating peacefully was a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of Nigeria's Constitution, protestors must respect the rights of other citizens and operate within the law. As looting gangs stormed through parts of Nigeria's largest city, spreading violence for a second day in Lagos.

Gunshots rang out and smoke rose from at least two fires in the commercial capital's affluent Ikoyi neighbourhood on Thursday, witnesses said. He did not describe the nature of the disturbance or say if anyone had been killed.

Reporting from Lagos, Fanny Fascar said there was "chaos" on the streets.

The police spokesman marked the "hoodlums" as separate from the thousands of demonstrators who had been protesting police brutality.

"They are looting properties, looting shopping malls and attacking ATM machines, " Adejobi said. Gunfire was heard in several parts of Lagos. By the afternoon, eight people with bullet wounds had been taken to Ikeja General Hospital, said a medic who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to speak to journalists. The tragedy is being referred to as the 'Lekki genocide' across social media. However people both protesters and authorities said were not demonstrators had begun to carry out acts of vandalism and criminality on the sidelines of the protests.

Outrage and condemnation from the global community is growing.

President Muhammadu Buhari _ who has been largely silent about the protests engulfing his country _ was set to address the nation Thursday night.

The protests across the nation had been very peaceful, but all hell broke loose after Tuesday when security operatives used live arms at unarmed protesters in Lagos, resulting to deaths and injuries.

For almost two weeks, Nigeria, Africa's leading economic power and the continent's most populous country, has been rocked by unprecedented protests that began on social media.

The UN Human Rights chief said there was "little doubt that this was a case of excessive use of force", while United States presidential candidate Joe Biden and former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton both condemned the use of violence on the protesters.

"We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

The west African ECOWAS bloc appealed to the Nigerian government, its youth and civil society "to urgently pursue dialogue for an early and amicable resolution of this social unrest and maintain the Nigerian image as a bastion of law and order". "While the authorities have now dissolved SARS and announced a series of inquiries at both federal and state levels, there have still been few if any charges leveled against its members despite abundant evidence against various members of the squad, as well as members of other security forces and the army". We have received information alleging crimes and are keeping a close eye on developments, in case violence escalates. "I call for calm and restraint".



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