Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) strongly condemns the use of excessive force by the Government of Nigeria’s security forces, including firing into a crowd, to disperse protesters in the Lekki area of Lagos on October 20, reportedly causing several deaths and many injuries. We call on the Nigerian government to immediately conduct a full and transparent investigation into the conduct of security forces accused of excessive use of force and other violations during the #EndSARS protests, and to hold perpetrators accountable.

For more than two weeks, Nigerians across the country have gathered to protest the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – a unit of the Nigerian Police that has seen many allegations of abuse. The events of October 20 were not the first time state security forces attempted to disperse the #EndSARS protests with violence, and video footage from civilians at the scene suggests that the protesters in Lekki were fired upon without provocation. The Government of Nigeria has an obligation to investigate incidences of excessive use of force and other potential violations by security forces toward civilians.

“Firing upon protesters like this is unacceptable and brings into even sharper relief the concerns which first inspired the protests more than two weeks ago,” said CIVIC’s Executive Director Federico Borello. “The Government of Nigeria should immediately investigate the event, hold those responsible accountable, and take bold steps to signal its commitment to protect civilians.”

CIVIC calls on the Nigerian government to take the actions necessary to prevent and mitigate civilian harm, including through investigating the incident, holding violators accountable, and implementing reforms, as well as training to prevent future occurrences. Nigeria should also adopt without delay its draft protection of civilians policy – which it had announced it would in 2018 – to underscore its commitment to preventing, mitigating, and responding to civilian harm.