Plan International has condemned the use of force on peaceful protesters by Nigerian security operatives at the Lekki toll gate protesting ground, Lagos.
According to media reports several people were killed and wounded in Tuesday’s shootings.
Protests over a now-disbanded police unit - the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) - have been taking place for the past 2 weeks, with demonstrators using the social media hashtag #EndSars to rally crowds.
Brute force against young people
“The use of brute force against young people who were exercising their rights to peacefully protest and make demands that could improve human rights and citizen participation is a huge setback for a country that has lived through almost 3 decades of military authoritarian rule,” said Plan International Nigeria’s Country Director, Hussaini Abdu.
It is a major threat to democratic culture.
“It is antithetical to democratic norms and capable of plunging the nation into anarchy.
"This unacceptable state violence could stifle youth voices and further shrink the already injured civic space. It is a major threat to democratic culture that young people are beginning to demonstrate.”
Mr Abdu called on the public to avoid any form of violence and destruction of public property as, “it not only derails developmental gains made by the country, but also presents opportunity for politicians with corrupt tendencies to further help themselves from the public till.”
Nigerian leadership must engage with youth
Mr Abdu called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the political leadership across the 36 states of the country to engage with young people and open up the political space for their effective participation, rather than the use of force as happened in Lekki.
“No nation can make progress when the most significant segment of its population is being brutalised by security operatives who are paid to protect them,” said Mr Abdu.