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Nigerian Protests turn bloody: CPJ calls for protection of journalists

A Nigerian youth seen waving the Nigerian national flag in support of the ongoing protest against the unjust brutality of The Nigerian Police Force Unit named Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Lagos on October 13, 2020. - Nigerians took to the streets once again on October 13, 2020, in several cities for fresh protests against police brutality, bringing key roads to a standstill in economic hub Lagos. Demonstrations organised on social media erupted earlier this month calling for the abolition of a notorious police unit accused of unlawful arrests, torture and extra-judicial killings. The government gave in to the demand on October 11, 2020, announcing that the federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was being disbanded in a rare concession to people power in Africa's most populous nation. (Photo by Benson Ibeabuchi / AFP)


News Reporter

LAGOS – The Committee to Protect Journalists this week called on the Nigerian government to protect journalists covering the ongoing protests protests against brutality in the country.

Protests against police brutality in Lagos turned bloody despite a state-wide curfew, sparking courting global outrage Wednesday, after security forces opened fire into a crowd of protesters, killing at least 10 people and deepening the unrest spurred by anger at Nigerian police.

Ten people died and dozens were wounded after uniformed men took aim at demonstrators the night before at a Lagos toll gate plaza, Amnesty International said, a clash captured from multiple angles on social media.

CPJ this week urged authorities to ensure that journalists are able to do their jobs freely and safely, while covering the protests against police brutality in the country.

The media watchdog said local media had reported violence against both protesters and journalists during the demonstrations, which began as a movement to disband the police’s Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

“Journalists in Nigeria must be permitted to freely report on demonstrations without threat of violence or intimidation,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator.

“Journalists in Nigeria are too often attacked simply for working to keep the Nigerian public and the world informed about what is happening in their country. Journalists’ safety is part of what it means to have freedom of the press, and is critical for Nigerian democracy.”

In 2019 and 2020, at least two journalists–Precious Owolabi and Alex Ogbu–were killed at protests in Nigeria, according to CPJ research. CPJ has also documented a years-long pattern of violence, arrests, and harassment of the press by Nigerian security forces, including the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

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