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Minister Simon Coveney calls on Nigerian authorities to investigate violence against protesters

Amnesty International said that at least 12 peaceful protesters were killed in an incident involving the Nigerian army this week.

Police officers stop and search a bus carrying passengers around Lekki toll gate in Lagos.
Police officers stop and search a bus carrying passengers around Lekki toll gate in Lagos.
Image: Sunday Alamba via PA Images

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN Affairs Simon Coveney has called on the Nigerian authorities to investigate the excessive use of force against protesters, which have resulted in deaths and serious injuries this week.

On Tuesday, witnesses reported gunmen opening fire on a crowd of over 1,000 peaceful protesters singing the national anthem at Lekki toll plaza in Lagos after a curfew was imposed to end escalating protests over police brutality and deep-rooted social issues.

Amnesty International said that at least 12 people were killed in the incident.

The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari gave a televised address yesterday about the protests – but didn’t mention the protesters who had died.

The protests first arose to call for an end to the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which was launched to fight crime but is accused of carrying out unlawful detentions, extortion, torture and extra-judicial killings.

The #EndSARS campaign has been fuelled mostly by young Nigerians, who the President made a direct plea to engage with the government constructively and to stop protesting

The Nigerian army has labelled reports of soldiers shooting on protesters as “fake news” on Twitter.

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Department of Foreign Affairs

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said that he is “closely following recent developments in Nigeria”, which have seen credible allegations of the use of excessive force against protesters “resulting in many people dead and injured”.

The Minister expressed his condolences to those bereaved families and wishing a speedy recovery to those injured, and “recalled the need to act with maximum restraint”.

When asked about the Labour Party’s Brendan Howlin’s request that the Government call in the Nigerian Ambassador to Ireland over the issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that Minister Coveney calls on the Nigerian authorities to investigate these incidents to “hold the perpetrators accountable, and to continue to make every effort to reduce tensions”.

“Ireland’s Embassy in Nigeria continues to actively monitor the situation on the ground, working closely with EU partners,” the statement concluded.

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