The United States government has condemned, in strong terms, the shooting of a group of young Nigerians who were protesting against police brutality at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos. In a similar vein, the government of the United Kingdom has expressed concern at recent developments in Nigeria.
Both U/S. and UK told the Federal Government to bring the perpetrators of the attack to book. Some security operatives in military uniform had shot into the crowd of protesters on Tuesday night, leaving an unspecified number of people dead and others wounded.
The Nigerian Army has since denied that its personnel were involved in the operation, but this defence has been controverted by the testimonies of those in the crowd and the vicinity of Lekki.
Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, who made the condemnation yesterday, described the deployment of soldiers to quell a civil protest as excessive use of force and urged the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to conduct an investigation into the incident and bring to justice, all those involved in the operation.
“I strongly condemn the use of excessive force by military forces who fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos, causing death and injury. We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces.
Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law. “The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles.
We call on the security services to show maximum restraint and respect fundamental rights and for demonstrators to remain peaceful. We extend our condolences to the victims of the violence and their families,” Pompeo said.
Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Mr. Dominic Raab, said that widespread reports of civilian deaths as a result of crack down on protesters was disturbing and called on the Nigerian government to investigate the incidents that led to the fatalities. “I am deeply concerned by the violence in Nigeria, including widespread reports of civilian deaths. We call for an end to all violence.
The Nigerian government must urgently investigate reports of brutality by its security forces and hold those responsible to account,” Raab said. It would be recalled that UK High Commission in Nigeria had, on the heels of the military attack on protesters, announced the shutdown of its Visa Application Centres in Nigeria for 48 hours, with effect from Wednesday, October 21, 2020.
The High Commission, in a brief statement made available to the media, asked applicants with appointments for Wednesday and Thursday, to reschedule their appointments from Monday, October 26th.
“Due to the ongoing protest in Nigeria and for the safety of both staff and applicants, our Nigeria centres will be closed for 48 hours at a minimum. For applicants with booked appointments within this period, please you will need to reschedule your appointment for next week, from 26th October 2020.
“We will continue to post regular updates on this page, so please keep checking back for the latest information on reopening. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding,” it said.
The action of the UK High Commission came barely a day after the U.S. shut down its Lagos Consulate, following the outbreak of violence from the #EndSARS protests in Lagos and Abuja as well as other major cities in the country.