Nigerian police have reportedly opened fire on protesters in Lagos after 12 days of demonstrations against police brutality.
Two people are believed to have been shot after more than 20 officers started shooting at demonstrators in the city’s Lekki district on Tuesday, witnesses told Reuters.
Video shown on Nigeria’s Channels Television appeared to capture audio of live rounds being fired at the scene.
State officials have already imposed a 24-hour curfew on the 20 million people who live in Lagos – Africa’s largest city – in a bid to bring the protests to an end.
But the demonstrations, against a unit of the Nigerian police force called SARS (the Special Anti-Robbery Squad), show little sign of slowing down.
SARS was established in 1992 to tackle robbery, kidnappings and other violent crime, but has been widely criticised for human rights abuses including torture, extortion and extrajudicial killings.
Nigerians claim plainclothes police officers frequently target young men with tattoos, dreadlocks and expensive cars arbitrarily.
Amnesty International, the human rights organisation, said late Tuesday there is “credible but disturbing evidence” that security forces in Lagos have fatally shot protesters demonstrating against police brutality.
The organisation said in a tweet: “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.”
Gbenga Omotoso, the Lagos state commissioner for information, said in a statement Tuesday night only that “there have been reports of shooting at the Lekki Toll Plaza following the 24-hour curfew imposed on Lagos”.
He added: “The state government has ordered an investigation into the incident.”
The alleged shootings came just hours after Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu warned on Twitter that the growing protests against police brutality in Nigeria had “degenerated into a monster that is threatening the well-being of our society”.
A police statement also had warned that security forces would now “exercise the full powers of the law to prevent any further attempt on lives and property of citizens”.
The demonstrations began on 8 October after a video that allegedly showed SARS officers shooting a man in Nigeria’s Delta State was widely shared on social media.