The African Union Commission chairperson has (finally) condemned the deadly violence against protesters calling for an end to police brutality in Nigeria. However, some critics feel AU’s declaration is coming too late considering the wide spread attention that the EndSARS Movement has garnered all over the world.
EWN reports that the African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat has “strongly condemned the violence that erupted on 20 October 2020 during protests in Lagos, Nigeria that has resulted in multiple deaths and injuries.”
However, Mahamat’s statement did not specifically denounce the actions of the security forces’ actions. This past Tuesday, protesters calling for the disbandment of the infamous and an end to police brutality, were shot at by security forces at Lekki Toll Gate. The incident occurred shortly after an abrupt 24-hour curfew had been imposed by the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the AU has called for all involved “political and social actors to reject the use of violence and respect human rights and the rule of law” and recommended that they “privilege dialogue”.
The recent statement from the AU comes after Amnesty International Nigeria confirmed that the Nigerian military had fired live ammunition at the protesters. The body announced, “Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports confirm that between 6:45pm and 9:00pm on Tuesday 20 October, the Nigerian military opened fire on thousands of people who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.”
Prior to Amnesty International Nigeria’s announcement, the Nigerian military had vehemently denied both their presence and involvement in the shooting at Lekki Toll Gate. They even went as far as labelling their involvement as “fake news” on their Twitter account.
Many on social media have expressed their skepticism towards the announcement particularly after the AU, the United Nations (UN) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were deafeningly silent following the violence in Nigeria.
The BBC reports that ECOWAS has also released a statement which “calls on all protesters to remain peaceful in the conduct of their demonstrations.” Additionally, the body has also urged “Nigerian security operatives to exercise restraint in the handling of the protests and act professionally.”
While there has been no official death toll, Amnesty International estimates that at least 56 people have been killed since the #EndSARS protests began with about 38 having been killed this past Tuesday alone.