At least three people have been killed in Ondo town of Ondo State as police shot at peaceful protesters, witnesses including one of the protesters told PREMIUM TIMES.
The police, however, said the protest was hijacked by thugs and they had to restore law and order.
Witnesses told this newspaper that the police attacked the protesters opposite Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Yaba, Ondo town Wednesday morning.
Our sources said the protesters defied a state government curfew, announced Tuesday, to continue their protest against police brutality before they were dispersed with gunshots.
“The police were shooting at us,” one of the protesters told our correspondent. “The police first fired live ammunition before firing teargas to disperse,” the young man added asking not to be named for security reasons.
Another witness, who works in the area, said he saw the protesters gather close to a Diamond Bank opposite the central police station. He said the protesters were not armed before they were shot at by the police.
“Everybody including me who was just passing by ran for our lives,” the witness said asking not to be named.
The witness sent a gory video of one of the gunshot victims, a man who was shot in his arm and was bleeding profusely. PREMIUM TIMES could not confirm if the man died from the injury.
Other protesters also shared videos and photos of the incident with PREMIUM TIMES.
Another witness, a journalist, refuted the claim of the police that the protesters were violent. He said the protesters were on the street when they were directly shot at by the police officers.
The journalist, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation by his employers, said three people died from the shootings including two secondary students.
“The students were returning from school in their uniform,” he said. “Everyone there saw their corpses.”
When asked how he confirmed the students were dead, the journalist said he saw their bodies and that of a third man, a protester.
Apart from the shooting near the police station, there were clashes between protesters and police officers in some other parts of Ondo town, this newspaper learnt. The exact casualty from those incidents have not been confirmed.
When contacted, the Ondo police spokesperson, Tee-Leo Ikoro, told our correspondent that the protest was hijacked by hoodlums.
“Some hoodlums hijacked the protest and were trying to attack one of the police stations in Ondo town,” the spokespesron said. “To avoid the attack on police facilities, our men engaged them but did not shoot because we have warned against using arms on protesters.”
While Mr Ikoro said no police officer was killed in the violence. He could not answer the question of how many civilians died in the process.
Perhaps angry at the shootings, some hoodlums have attacked the secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Ondo State capital, Akure.
PREMIUM TIMES reports that violence against protesters by security forces have continued across Nigeria despite the condemnation by local and international officials.
On Sunday evening, soldiers fired at unarmed protesters in Lekki, Lagos. The Lekki incident has been condemned by many Nigerians with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu vowing a probe.
Over a dozen people have been killed by security operatives across Nigeria during the protest with the police also confirming that at least three officers have been killed, allegedly by protesters.
The protesters were demanding an end to police brutality and a reform of the police.