Nigerian police beat, arrest protesters at site of Lekki shootings

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Nigerian police beat, arrest protesters at site of Lekki shootings - witnesses



© Reuters.

By Angela Ukomadu and Seun SanniLAGOS, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Nigerian police beat and arresteddemonstrators on Saturday as a small group protested over thereopening of the site where activists denouncing policebrutality were shot last year in the commercial capital, Lagos,Reuters witnesses said.Rights group Amnesty International and witnesses have saidsoldiers opened fire on protesters on Oct. 20, killing at least12 people at a toll gate in the city’s affluent Lekki districtand another area. The military has denied shooting live roundsand the police have denied involvement. There was a heavy presence of armed police officers onSaturday at the toll gate, where a group of about 15 protestersgathered despite calls by the government this week to scrap thedemonstration, Reuters witnesses said.At least six of the protesters were beaten with truncheonsand arrested before being driven away in police vans. “They are already manhandling us, but we’re not going to bedeterred. We’re not going to step down,” said one man, who didnot provide his name and spoke to Reuters as he was beingarrested.A Lagos state police spokesman said in a text message he wasunaware of the arrests but would look into accusations thatactivists had been manhandled.Nigeria’s information minister warned activists earlier thisweek to drop plans for the protest, saying it risked being”hijacked by hoodlums”. On Friday, one of the two youth members of a Lagos statepanel investigating the October shootings resigned, citing”undue intimidation of peaceful protesters” and the panel’s voteto reopen the toll gate – a source of revenue for the stategovernment – before the probe had been finished. Thousands of Nigerians calling for police reforms stagedlargely peaceful protests nationwide for about two weeks inOctober, but the Lekki shootings sparked street violence andlooting across the country.The wave of civil unrest was one of the worst since the endof military rule in 1999.
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