How peaceful anti-brutality protests turned violent. The 39-year-old businessman says he returned to Nigeria last year after two decades abroad because he wanted to help his country. When nationwide demonstrations began on October 8, he volunteered to manage logistics at the main protest site in Lagos.
Tears fill Ephraim Osinboyejo’s eyes as he recalls the idealism that drove thousands of Nigerians like him into the streets to campaign against police brutality – and the night he saw young activists gunned down.
But what began as a largely peaceful movement, driven by young, tech-savvy activists who used social media to grab global attention, turned into some of the worst street violence the country has seen since the end of military rule in 1999.
Police and soldiers enforcing a curfew killed at least 12 people in two Lagos neighbourhoods on October 20, according to witnesses and rights group Amnesty International. The army and police denied involvement. In the following days, crowds set fire to police stations and government offices. Looting was reported at shopping malls and government food warehouses. Curfews were imposed on millions.
Protest organisers, some in hiding, are now urging followers to stay off the streets and campaign online as police have made their presence increasingly felt.
“I feel defeated. I feel disappointed. I feel sad,” Osinboyejo said at the Lekki district toll gate where hundreds had gathered to protest abuses by a notorious police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Days later, cars were passing through the toll gate as the protests subsided. The image of a clenched fist daubed onto the road and a few Nigerian flags lying in a gutter were the only reminders of the joyful crowds who danced and sang there a week ago.
Source – News365
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