Police say assailants attacked a prison in upscale Lagos neighbourhood as violence continues.
Gunfire rang out in the affluent Ikoyi neighbourhood of Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos on Thursday with witnesses saying assailants attacked a detention facility in the area that is home to government offices.
Smoke was also seen rising from the direction of Ikoyi correctional facility, and trucks carrying police were seen heading towards the prison. The wreckage of a dozen cars smouldered in the upscale Ikoyi neighbourhood and two official buildings were ablaze.
“The Ikoyi prison is mainly surrounded by government buildings and security establishments. Residents said they saw hoodlums armed with clubs and then gunfire was heard and the fires and smoke were later seen,” said Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital Abuja.
Other accounts suggested the gunfire resulted from an attempted jailbreak by prisoners. It was unclear if any inmates escaped.
Soldiers patrolled the streets of the city on Thursday a day after several buildings – including police stations, a TV channel and the port – were torched.
The city of 20 million is under a round-the-clock curfew imposed after nearly two weeks of protests against police brutality – the West African nation’s biggest wave of unrest since the end of military rule in 1999.
“The number could be much higher.”@Amnesty International says at least 12 people were killed on Tuesday night during an #EndSARS protest in Lagos and blames the violence on the military. pic.twitter.com/k5kcOk45Po
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 22, 2020
Amnesty International said at least 12 people were killed by the Nigerian army and police in a crackdown on protesters on Tuesday that drew international condemnation. Overall, 56 people have died across the country since demonstrations against police abuse and bad governance began on October 8.
Several states are also under curfew and the oil-producing Delta state said it would enter a 48-hour curfew from 6pm (17:00 GMT) on Thursday.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari – who has not yet commented on Tuesday’s shooting – met national security leaders on Thursday as nationwide unrest continued.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said his “heart goes out” to the victims of Tuesday’s shooting, as well as policemen and others who have lost their lives in several days of turmoil in Africa’s most populous country.
“The pain of these terrible events is palpable in our towns and cities, and some losses are irreplaceable, but we can and will get justice for all of them,” Osinbajo said in a statement.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said reports that lights were turned off and surveillance cameras removed at the scene before Tuesday’s attack suggested it was “premeditated, planned and coordinated”.
Violence escalated on Wednesday as groups of young men and armed police clashed in some neighbourhoods following the shooting at a toll gate in the Lagos district of Lekki.
Al Jazeera’s Idris reported violence also erupted again in Lekki on Thursday and security forces were deployed to the area.
“We have heard calls from religious and community leaders calling on the president to address concerns about escalating violence across the country, the abuse allegedly committed by security forces, and the way things are getting out of hand,” said Idris.
“Looters and arsonists are now taking over what started as decent protest marches.”
Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday condemned what it called excessive use of force by the Nigerian military for firing on unarmed demonstrators.
“We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Nigeria’s army has dubbed as “fake news” reports that soldiers opened fire on demonstrators. Police Minister Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi told the BBC that troops were not ordered to open fire on protesters.
Pompeo said those involved “should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law”.
“The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles,” Pompeo said.