(Refiles to add time reference in paragraph 6)ABUJA, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s information ministercalled on activists to drop plans for a protest in thecommercial capital Lagos over the reopening of the site wheredemonstrators against police brutality were shot last year,saying it risked being “hijacked by hoodlums”.Protesters were shot on Oct. 20 by people witnesses saidwere soldiers at the toll gate in the affluent Lekki district ofLagos. Rights group Amnesty International said soldiers andpolice killed at least 12 protesters in Lekki and anotherdistrict. The military and police have denied involvement.Nationwide protests against police brutality were largelypeaceful until the Oct. 20 shooting, which spawned some of theworst civil unrest since the 1999 return to civilian rule inAfrica’s most populous country. A judicial commission in Lagos is looking into theallegations that the army and police opened fire on protesterson Oct. 20. Social media campaigners said a demonstration wouldbe held at the toll gate on Saturday in protest at its reopeningbefore the commission had completed its investigation.In response, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said theplanned rally could turn violent because of “hoodlums”.”We therefore strongly warn those who are planning tore-occupy Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday to desist,” Mohammed tolda news conference on Thursday in the capital Abuja. “While peaceful protests are the constitutional rights ofNigerians, violent protests are not. At this time, the chancesthat any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high.”Violence would not be tolerated, he said, adding: “Thesecurity agents are ready for any eventuality.” The unrest in October led to the deaths of six soldiers, 37policemen and 57 civilians, as well as the destruction of 269private and public properties, Mohammed said.
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