Former United States Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the killing of protesters demonstrating against police brutality in the West African country.
The protests against the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which erupted earlier this month have continued even after the government agreed to disband the unit which is known for beating up and torturing citizens.
Clinton’s call, posted on her Twitter account, came after a number of people taking part in the protests, which have garnered widespread attention due to the viral social media tag #EndSARS, were reportedly shot dead or injured at the Lekki toll gate in Nigeria’s populous city of Lagos on Tuesday night.
‘I’m calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Army to stop killing young #EndSARS protesters. #StopNigeriaGovernment,’ Clinton said.
BBC reported that an eyewitness had counted about 20 dead bodies and at least 50 injured people after soldiers opened fire to the crowd.
The Nigerian army has refuted claims of killings or injuries. On its official Twitter page, it pasted screenshots of stories from various news outlets reporting on the shootings, labelling them as ‘fake news.’
The authorities have promised an investigation into the shootings, but have imposed an indefinite 24-hour curfew in Lagos and other areas.
Rights group Amnesty International said it had received credible evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at the Lekki toll gate.
‘While we continue to investigate the killings, Amnesty International wishes to remind the authorities that under international law, security forces may only resort to the use of lethal force when strictly unavoidable to protect against imminent threat of death or serious injury,’ it said.
On Monday, Amnesty spokesperson Isa Sanusi told French news agency AFP that at least 15 people had been killed, including two policemen, since the protests erupted earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Nigerians in South Africa said they would march in solidarity with their compatriots back home.
A flyer posted on the Facebook page of the Nigeria Union of South Africa on Monday, and confirmed by its president Adetola Olubajo, said the West African country’s nationals would gather on Wednesday for a peaceful march to the High Commission of Nigeria in the capital Pretoria.