Press release October 21, 2020
Nigeria: Freedom House Condemns Attacks on Peaceful Protesters
The latest killings in Nigeria highlight the urgency of ending impunity.
In response to security services shooting at peaceful protesters in Lagos on October 20, which led to reported fatalities and dozens of injuries, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Nigerians taking to the streets in large numbers to protest police brutality deserve the protection of security services, not to be targeted by them,” said Jon Temin, director of Africa programs at Freedom House. “Similar to movements around the world, including in the United States, the #EndSARS movement reflects the widespread demand among Nigerians to end impunity for police who use excessive force. Police or members of the military who opened fire on protesters—as well as those who gave the orders—should be held to account. In addition to disbanding abusive police units and pursuing justice for victims of police brutality, the government of Nigeria should engage in a comprehensive dialogue with protesters and civil society representatives to address a wide range of civilian security concerns.”
Nigerian security services opened fire on protesters in the commercial capital, Lagos, on the night of October 20. This followed close to two weeks of peaceful protests demanding the end of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police force long known for brutality and corruption. The Nigerian government has committed to disbanding SARS, but concerns remain that abusive police officers will reappear in other police units. Security force abuses are rife throughout the country, including in response to violent extremism in northern Nigeria.