West Africa - Nigeria

Call for fresh protest kicks in Nigeria’s most popular state

The investigation into the shooting has lingered as representatives of the armed forces have failed three times to appear in front of the panel.

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Protesters, angry at the decision to restart commercial activities at the tollgate where unarmed civilians died, are calling for a fresh protest to demand justice.

Activists behind massive protests that swept across Nigeria in October have called for a new rally on Saturday in Lagos as an investigation stalls into a deadly shooting during last year’s demonstrations.

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Youth-led protests against police brutality and bad governance brought Africa’s largest city to a standstill last year, with the campaign drawing support from many high-profile celebrities.

[files] An aerial view shows protesters gathering at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, on October 15, 2020, during a demonstration to protest against police brutality and scrapping of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Pierre FAVENNEC / AFP

On social media, the hashtag “OccupyLekkiTollGate” was widely shared after a decision on Saturday by a judicial panel to authorise the reopening of the Lekki tollgate where security forces shot at peaceful protesters on October 20.

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After the shooting, the army said only blank rounds were fired to disperse the crowds who had defied a curfew but Amnesty International said soldiers killed at least 10 protesters.

Demonstrations that had spread across the country came to a sudden halt after a wave of looting and civil unrest followed.

Amnesty said at least 56 people had died in the October protests.

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Calm returned to Lekki but the company in charge of the tollgate had stopped operating — until a judicial panel launched by the state of Lagos said on Saturday it could resume its work.

Protesters, angry at the decision to restart commercial activities at the tollgate where unarmed civilians died, are calling for a fresh protest to demand justice.

“No Justice, No Re-Opening. You can’t open a tollgate where victims of state sanctioned murder are yet to get justice,” was a slogan largely shared on social media.

The investigation into the shooting has lingered as representatives of the armed forces have failed three times to appear in front of the panel.

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“If they reopen Lekki Tollgate & start collecting blood money, the people should occupy it again,” wrote one protester, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, who has 120,000 followers on Twitter.

Some are worried that the protest could be used as an excuse to loot properties and have called for a counter-protest to take place on Saturday at Lekki, with the hashtag “DefendLagos” also trending on social platforms.

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