According to witnesses, dozens of soldiers disembarked from at least four trucks, flanked by police officers. They approached the scene of a major protest site where more than a thousand people had taken over a toll gate in Lekki, a large district in Lagos Island. Almost instantly, hundreds were forced to flee as a rain of bullets rang out. First into the air, and then towards the crowds.
Amnesty International said at least 12 people were killed by soldiers and police in the shootings.
It has fuelled outrage at the Nigerian government and security forces for clamping down on one of the most striking protest movements in decades in Nigeria.
Lagos’ governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, caused outrage by claiming that there were no casualties. Nigeria’s army claimed that reports which accused soldiers of shooting at the scene were false.
Protester Emmanuel Edet, 28, said, “It was soldiers. Do they think we don’t know what the army look like again?” he said.
Emmanuella Fortte, a 23-year-old poet, said the protests had been a place of inspiration. “It shows us what we can achieve together, our generation, pooling our own resources and gifts,” she said. She fled on Tuesday as the shooting began.
Despite the shootings, the protests were just the beginning of a long-term quest for change, she said. “I’m just glad to be home and to rest but soon, we go again. We cannot afford to back down now. Nigeria will never ever move forward if we back down.”