Nigeria's SARS saga: Amnesty International disputes army's claim it did not shoot Lagos civilians

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Protesters march at Alausa Secretariat in Ikeja, Lagos State, during a peaceful demonstration against police brutality in Nigeria.
Protesters march at Alausa Secretariat in Ikeja, Lagos State, during a peaceful demonstration against police brutality in Nigeria.
Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nigeria's Lagos state government asked the army to intervene to restore order amid anti-police brutality protests, but soldiers did not shoot civilians, the military said, an assertion an Amnesty International investigation disputed on Wednesday.

Nigeria has been on edge following one of its biggest social upheavals in 20 years. Demonstrations across the country turned violent on 20 October when witnesses in Lagos said the military opened fire on peaceful protesters shortly after local authorities imposed a 24-hour curfew, drawing international condemnation.

The Lagos government asked the army to deploy due to "violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away," the military said in a statement published late on Tuesday said.

The army, which has said it was not at the site of the shooting at the Lekki Toll Gate, and the Lagos state governor's office did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment. The military statement did not say how they intervened to curb unrest beyond denying that its men shot civilians.

Amnesty International on Wednesday published an investigation in which the rights group said it had tracked Nigerian army vehicles from their Lagos barracks at Bonny Camp to Lekki Toll Gate using photographs and videos of the soldiers' movements culled from social media.

Police and soldiers allegedly killed at least 12 people in two Lagos neighbourhoods on 20 October, according to witnesses and rights group Amnesty International. Police have also denied involvement.

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