Nigeria: Police fire tear gas in Lagos as protesters honoring Lekki toll gate shooting victims spill on to streets

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It is one yr to the day since safety forces opened hearth on unarmed protesters on the Lekki toll gate. The taking pictures quashed Nigeria’s fledgling youth protest motion, often known as #EndSARS, however regardless of scores of movies shot by protesters, which confirmed the taking pictures, in addition to the useless and wounded, the Nigerian authorities continues to disclaim {that a} taking pictures even came about.

The organizers of Wednesday’s protests referred to as those that had died “fallen heroes” and mentioned they needed to come to the toll gate to recollect them.

There was at instances a tense stand-off between safety forces and the protesters, who made a handful of arrests, together with a person who was being interviewed by CNN.

Forward of the memorial occasion, the organizers and Lagos State commissioner of police agreed that the one means a protest may happen was in autos and never by means of marches on the road.

Nevertheless, among the protesters spilled on to the streets, chanting “solidarity without end,” and “how many people will you kill?”

Police quickly launched teargas to disperse those that had been demonstrating on the streets, calling them “miscreants” in an interview with the media.

A demonstrator raises a Nigerian flag from a car during a motorcade to mark the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protest at the Lekki toll gate on Wednesday.

In the meantime, at a press convention held Wednesday in Abuja, the Nigerian authorities as soon as once more denied that police had fired on protesters on October 20 final yr — calling it a “phantom bloodbath” — and described CNN’s reporting on the taking pictures as “baseless.”

In a report revealed Tuesday, the mom of a 32 year-old-man who took half in final yr’s Lekki toll gate protest informed CNN how she discovered him mendacity in a pool of blood on the bottom after racing to the scene when she heard concerning the taking pictures.
'He died in my arms.' Twelve months on, a mother's agonizing wait to find out why her son died at Lekki toll gate

“After I noticed my son, I shouted and held him … The blood was an excessive amount of, there was a bullet wound on his chest. His garments had been torn and the bullet had come out of his again,” she mentioned, weeping.

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Her son died in her arms as she tried to get him to a hospital. A yr later, she’s nonetheless ready for solutions about what occurred.

CNN additionally spoke to a number of households throughout an investigation final yr who had been but to find the our bodies of their lacking family members — protesters on the toll gate — who dozens of eyewitnesses say had been shot at, first by members of the Nigerian military after which hours later by police.
There isn’t any official loss of life toll, however an Amnesty Worldwide investigation discovered that a minimum of 12 folks died at Lekki toll gate and one other website on October 20 final yr.

Eyewitnesses informed CNN they noticed the military take away quite a lot of our bodies from the scene. The CNN investigation pieced collectively what occurred when the Nigerian military and later the police opened hearth on civilians as they protested police brutality. The police have denied opening hearth on the protesters. Video shot by an eyewitness seems to point out the military taking pictures towards the gang.

Final yr, the military admitted that each dwell rounds and blanks had been utilized by the military, but it surely says they solely fired into the air. Bullet casings had been retrieved on the toll gate by protesters. The Nigerian authorities threatened to sanction CNN for its report.

The #EndSARS protests lasted for almost two weeks in October 2020 earlier than they had been silenced by the taking pictures on the Lekki toll gate. Their preliminary calls for had been for a infamous police unit often known as the Particular Anti-Theft Squad, or SARS, to be shut down, however the marches morphed into protests campaigning for police reform and an finish to unhealthy governance within the oil-rich nation.

Minister denies ‘phantom bloodbath’

Chatting with the press Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s Info Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed continued to disclaim that the Lekki toll gate taking pictures occurred and criticized CNN and Amnesty Worldwide for his or her reporting.

Nigerian army admits to having live rounds at Lekki Toll Gate protests, despite previous denials

“Immediately marks the primary anniversary of the phantom bloodbath at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, which was the fruits of an in any other case peaceable protest that was later hijacked by hoodlum,” Mohammed mentioned.

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“One yr later, and regardless of ample alternatives for the households of these allegedly killed and people alleging a bloodbath to current proof, there was none: No our bodies, no households, no convincing proof, nothing.”

The minister went on to criticize CNN and Amnesty Worldwide for sustaining what he referred to as an “unproven stand.” His assertion particularly accused CNN of “overtly and unashamedly” holding on to what it referred to as a “flawed narrative” in its newest report, on the mom who discovered her son dying, saying it was “with out convincing proof.”

CNN continues to face by its reporting of the incident. “Our reporting was fastidiously and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” a CNN spokesperson mentioned.

The CNN investigation revealed final yr pieced collectively what occurred when the Nigerian military and later the police opened hearth on civilians as they protested police brutality. It used time stamps, video information, and geolocation to investigate hours of video shot by protesters — monitoring the military’s actions to the Lekki toll gate the place protests had been happening for nearly two weeks.

When requested why his workplace continued to discredit Amnesty Worldwide’s findings and CNN’s reporting, Mohammed mentioned: “CNN was invited to the panel of inquiry … to show its story. We’re saying that if anyone has misplaced a son or a daughter, and for greater than 8, 9 months there’s a panel of inquiry asking that individual to return out and the individual has not come out, why will I consider a cooked-up story of CNN?”

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A lawyer attended the panel on behalf of CNN.

Rights group: Prospects for accountability ‘bleak’

One yr on from the Lekki toll gate shootings, nobody has taken accountability for what occurred that evening, nor has anybody been held to account.

In a brief report launched Tuesday, titled “Nigeria: A Yr On, No Justice for #EndSARS Crackdown,” Human Rights Watch mentioned: “The prospects for accountability stay inconclusive and bleak. Nigerian authorities ought to take concrete and decisive steps to make sure that these implicated in abuses in opposition to protesters are held accountable.”

The judicial listening to arrange in October 2020 by the Lagos state authorities to look into circumstances of police brutality — and the now-disbanded Particular Anti-Theft Squad — and to analyze the toll gate incident has been beset with delays and different points.
Final month, it abruptly suspended its sitting till additional discover, saying it didn’t have sufficient time to finish its experiences on the circumstances, together with the Lekki taking pictures. It reopened briefly a couple of week later to listen to extra testimonies and ended its sitting Monday. Nevertheless, its report continues to be being ready.

“Nigeria’s authorities ought to take efficient steps towards accountability to point out victims that their loss, ache, and struggling isn’t in useless,” mentioned Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch.

CNN’s Stephanie Busari reported from Lagos and Nimi Princewill from Abuja.