According to reports, Amnesty International said late Tuesday there was “credible but disturbing evidence” that special forces shot dead at least a dozen protesters demonstrating against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria. Gbenga Omotoso, the Lagos State Commissioner, said in a statement Tuesday, “there have been reports of shooting at the Lekki Toll Plaza following the 24-hour curfew imposed on Lagos,” adding, “the state government has ordered an investigation into the incident.”
Several videos circulating social media appear to capture audio of multiple rounds being fired. In a tweet from Amnesty International, the human rights NGO stated: “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.”
The hashtag #EndSARS was initially created in 2017 during the first wave of protests calling for the disbanding of the anti-robbery squad, however, protests broke out a few weeks ago after a video captured officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, brutally beating a man. This footage sparked nationwide protests as young demonstrators filled the streets under the familiar banner – #EndSARS.
Since the movement gained viral status, a number of celebrities have lent their voices and platforms to amplifying the movement’s call to end police abuse. Beyoncé took to Instagram where she posted, “I am heartbroken to see the senseless brutality taking place in Nigeria. There has to be an end to SARS,” adding, “We have been working on partnerships with youth organizations to support those protesting for change. We are collaborating with coalitions to provide emergency healthcare, food and shelter. To our Nigerian sisters and brothers, we stand by you.”
Rihanna also shared her thoughts, tweeting that she “can’t bare to see this torture and brutalization that is continuing to affect nations across the planet.” She added, “It’s such a betrayal to the citizens, the very people put in place to protect are the ones we are most afraid of being murdered by! My heart is broken for Nigeria man!! It is unbearable to watch! I’m so proud of your strength and not letting up on the fight for what’s right!”
In an interview with USA Today, actor John Boyega said, “Nigeria has struggled for such a long time. Since independence, we have gone through various regimes, various changes in terms of political power, and now Nigerians are very, very tired.”
Prior to Tuesday’s events, Kanye West, Chance The Rapper, and Lil Baby each expressed their solidarity with the protesters in Nigeria.