Protest killings, Nigeria's worst since military dictatorship

He was killed
He was killed

The fatality figures are wide-ranging, depending on the source, and events leading to the deaths. While labour unions and civil society blame state-related killings of fuel subsidy protesters for more than a dozen deaths, authorities have placed the figure at less than five.

But rights groups say, in scale and brutality, the deaths caused by state forces since the protests began eleven days ago are some of the worst the nation has witnessed since military dictatorship.

On Thursday, Amnesty International urged the immediate stoppage of police “firing indiscriminately at protesters,” a day after asking the Nigerian authorities to scrap the notorious police code 237 which allows summary execution of leaders of a demonstration that turned violent.

Still, the violent crackdown continued on January 12, the day 11 of street protests and civil unrest across the country.

Yahaya Abubakar Adamu, 25, was killed on Thursday at Lambata, Niger state, after anti-riot policemen opened fire on youths who pelted them with stones. He died almost immediately, the second death for the day.

Rabiu Abubakar had earlier been shot in the stomach, according to reports and was rushed to the Suleja General Hospital where he passed away having been denied treatment due to the ongoing strike.

The brutal endings have seemed as rapid as the protests, spreading across cities where  activists have demanded a reversal of petrol pump price to N65. Each death has come with varying accounts from witnesses and the police.

The Niger deaths brings the figures above 20, since the first casualty recorded in Ilorin, Kwara state, on the first day of demonstrations.

Twenty three year old Muyideen Mustapha, a young man who had just graduated from a computer training school, was shot dead in Ilorin. Family and witnesses blamed the police, and autopsy report pointed to a gun shot wound. But police accused a butchers’ stab for the killing, and still promised investigation.

That will signal the start of deaths, and more deaths allegedly at the hands of security forces.

In Lagos, photographs show Ademola Aderinto, a young man in his early 20s, dragged by four armed police officers, while he appeared to be pleading. Then he sat on the floor with one of the officers clutching his green shirt. The adjoining footage showed a bloodied half-nude Ademola wheeled in a barrow, dead. Police say a divisional police officer, suspected to be responsible for the death, had been arrested, and will be prosecuted – the only case for which the police accepted responsibility.

In the Ketu area of Lagos, a commercial motorcyclist was burnt to death after being knocked down by a bus swerving away from bonfire set by the protesters. The bike’s two passengers escaped with injuries.

In Ibafo, a suburb of Ogun State, one person, was killed after police challenged street miscreants who mounted a roadblock to extort money from motorists. Others escaped with wounds.

In neighbouring Osun state, a young musician, Raheem Mojeed, was reportedly matcheted by a driver who sought to dismantle a road block mounted by protesters, which Raheem, was among. He died later in hospital.

On Wednesday, in Kaduna, 23-year-old Abdulgafar Mohammed Hadis was shot in the head by policemen attempting to enforce a curfew and bar rampaging youth from advancing to the governor’s office.

A spare parts dealer, Olurin Olateju,  yesterday, was also reportedly killed by the police in in Ogbere, Olunloyo area of Ibadan, Oyo State. The police had been trying to disperse irate crowd. According to reports, the deceased’s wife had just put to bed.

Similar confrontation occurred in Kano involving youth pushing to access the governor’s office. Police fired and killed about five, according to witnesses.

On the same day, six protesters were reportedly killed in Maiduguri, Borno state. Four deaths were also reported in Jalingo, Taraba state, on Thursday, with witnesses blaming the police.