The Amnesty International has insisted that up to 56 people were killed during the October 2020 #ENDSARS protests in Nigeria.
Today Wednesday October 20 marks a year anniversary of the protests, with some of the organisers marking it in different parts of the country.
There have been some clashses with security operatives in the process.
While the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday morning berated the AI and other organisations for projecting what he callled fake reports about a massacre, the AI said killings truly happened.
In a statement signed by Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, it said:
“Under the pretext of restoring order, horrific injuries were inflicted on hundreds of people and at least 56 people were killed, among them dozens of young people lost their lives as Nigerian security forces used unnecessary and excessive force to disperse peaceful protesters across the country.
“It is unacceptable that despite overwhelming evidence, the government continues to deny the use of live ammunition on protesters at Lekki toll gate exactly a year ago.
“Amnesty International had documented incidents at Lekki Toll Gate Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, showing the violent response of the Nigerian security forces to peaceful protests. The clear aim of the crackdown was to instil fear, discourage peaceful protests and punish those demanding an end to widespread human rights violations by the police.
“After reviewing videos and photos of the protest sites, Amnesty International found that in nearly 21 incidents where violence occurred between peaceful protesters and pro-government supporters, security forces not only failed to take preventive measures to avoid peaceful assemblies from being disrupted, but they also failed to protect protesters from violent attacks.
“In many instances, the police and other security agents watched as apparently government-backed armed thugs attacked peaceful protesters. In some cases, these thugs were brought to the protest sites in government vehicles. On at least two occasions, these attacks resulted in the death of protesters.
“Almost every person arrested during the protests described being beaten with the butt of a gun, whips and fists during their arrests. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 12 journalists were attacked during the #EndSARS protests by security forces and unidentified perpetrators.
“Many of those detained interviewed by Amnesty International said that they were tortured while in detention. In many cases, police abuse continued in detention, in police stations and other holding facilities, and on the way to detention, in police vehicles. Several such cases amount to torture and other ill-treatment.
“Several lawyers and human rights defenders said they spent days moving from one police station to another trying to find out where those who had been arrested were being.
“One person arrested during a protest on 18 October 2020 and held at Lagos state Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Panti, said he repeatedly asked to call a lawyer. He was told by a police officer to shut up. While in detention, he was denied access to a lawyer who had come to see him and was unable to meet with a lawyer until a week after being arrested.
“Providing timely access to lawyers is an important safeguard for many human rights, such as the right to a fair trial and ensuring the detainee’s rights are respected in custody, including the right to access medical care when needed, as well as protection from coerced confessions and torture and other ill-treatment.”