On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, Nigerians received the shocks of their lives when men of the Nigerian Army unleashed terror and shot at unarmed peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.
This was coming two days after the Nigerian Army announced that it would launch its annual Operation Crocodile smile across the nation.
For 12 consecutive days, Nigerian youths took to the streets to call for an end to police brutality in the country by demanding the disbandment of the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Government’s initial response
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammad Adamu, following the outcry of Nigerians, announced the SARS unit’s disbandment on October 11.
A few days later, the IGP announced a new unit, the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT).
The IGP also promised deep police reforms.
However, Nigerians, who had grown tired of the gimmicks, failed to withdraw from the streets.
The reason was that SARS had been disbanded four times earlier.
Chaos in Lagos
The nationwide protest took a wrong turn when some criminal elements, under the guise of the #EndSARS protests, decided to attack government property.
On Tuesday, October 20, some hoodlums attacked Orile Igamu police station and set it ablaze.
In the Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area of the state, Yoruba and Hausa youths clashed at Fagba junction.
The fight resulted in the loss of lives and properties.
Hoodlums also attacked Ajeromi Local Government Secretariat.
The story was the same in Mushin and some other parts of Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu Declares Curfew
To restore sanity, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced a 24-hour curfew.
The governor said that the curfew would start by 4 pm.
Sanwo-Olu described the violence as monstrous.
He said: “Nobody, except essential service providers and first responders, must be found on the streets.”
Protesters are the Lekki Tollgate carried on with the #EndSARS protest, despite the curfew’s pronouncement.
Be Aware!!! pic.twitter.com/BgTxb2eXcq
— Nigerian Army (@HQNigerianArmy) October 21, 2020
Around 4 pm, the picture of a man removing the security cameras at the Toll Gate surfaced online.
According to reports, the man said that he was ‘ordered’ to do so.
Around 7 pm, the Nigerian Army descended on the peaceful protesters and shot at them.
While this was ongoing, Nigerians took to social media to condemn what has now been termed as a ‘massacre.’
Phones, drones to the rescue as Army denies killing
The Nigerian Army has tagged as fake news reports that its men attacked peaceful protesters and shot them.
However, DJ Switch, one of the protesters at the venue, was able to go live on her Instagram and captured the shootings.
Over 120,000 people watched live as the unharmed protesters were shot at by the Nigerian Army.
— Davido (@davido) October 20, 2020
People also witnessed how the protesters maintained their cool by reciting the national anthem despite being shot at.
In the live feed, Nigerians also witnessed how protesters tried unsuccessfully to carry out surgery on a wounded protester who was shot in the leg.
On Wednesday, a drone image also surfaced online regarding the attack.
In the video, people were seen running while men in green camouflage uniforms of the Nigerian Army shot at them.
Individuals and groups have condemned the attack on peaceful protesters at the Lekki Tollgate by men of the Nigerian Army.
A former US First Lady, Hillary Clinton, via her Twitter handle, called on the Nigerian Government to stop the killings of its protesters.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 20, 2020
In the same vein, United States Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, also spoke out against the attack.
He called on President Buhari to stop the clampdown on peaceful protesters.