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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday called for calm amidst the arsons and clashes that have ended the peaceful street protests of young Nigerians protesting against police brutality.
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‘I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy,’ Buhari said in his recorded national broadcast.
‘I, therefore, call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage the government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding,’ he added.
In Lagos, unrest escalated after the government security forces, including the army, fired live ammunition on protesters in Lekki toll-gate on Tuesday. Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu described it as “among the darkest hours” of the state history.
Sanwo-Olu blamed “forces beyond our direct control” for the shooting while questions are still being raised over who ordered the shooting.
At least seven people were killed according to DJ Switch, a popular disc jockey who broadcast live from the scene on Instagram. In the video, protesters were seen struggling to remove bullets from injured protesters.
In other footage, protesters carrying bloodied Nigerian flags were seen begging security officials to allow medics to treat victims.
The incident attracted condemnations from the United States, the United Nations, and the African Union. An International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also said her office ‘received information alleging crimes’ were committed.
The Nigerian army has since denied involvement in the shooting. It has tagged several reports indicating it as ‘fake news.’
Lagos State governor said in no fatalities were recorded that night.
Buhari also downplays the incident as he conspicuously avoided to mention the episode in his speech.