Africa News Bulletin

Nigeria: Lagos rejects brutality against protesters

The government of Lagos State, Nigeria, rejects Amnesty International’s accusations of torture, persecution of people and disproportionate use of force to maintain public order and control demonstrations, claiming that security forces never fired with live ammunition.

The accusations by human rights organizations are false and have political ends, the authorities argue, denying that there was a massacre on October 20, 2020. However, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Amnesty International (AI) called on Friday for the release of 15 people detained following protests against police brutality in Nigeria in 2020, warning of a “resurgence” of violence by law enforcement, announced AFP.

On October 20, 2020, police and military officers opened fire on a peaceful demonstration at the Lekki Toll Plaza, in Lagos, repressing the largest anti-government protests in Nigeria’s modern history, according to AI.

Three years later, Amnesty International says that at least 15 of the protesters detained in 2020 “remain arbitrarily detained, most without trial” in Lagos, with some claiming to have been tortured. “I am innocent. My life has been destroyed. I need my freedom,” one of the detainees, Sodiq Adigunm, told the NGO, adding that he has been detained without trial since 2020. French news agency AFP asked the police for a reaction, but they have not yet received a response.

Several protesters gathered on Friday at the main site of the 2020 events and called for the release of those detained, in front of a reinforced and imposing police apparatus. In previous demonstrations to mark the repression, police carried out arrests and fired tear gas grenades.

During the events of 2020, according to Amnesty International, police killed at least 12 protesters in Lagos, the economic capital, and more than 50 across the country. Other people were killed in the violence that followed.

The NGO also warned of the resurgence of police brutality and called for reforms. The police “regularly commit human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, harassment, arbitrary arrests and extortion, with almost absolute impunity,” the NGO accused.

Bet on lithium

Nigeria is currently the scene of a real hunt for lithium. Many Nigerian and foreign operators, mainly Chinese, have dedicated themselves to the extraction – sometimes illegally – of the much-coveted mineral, used in the manufacture of rechargeable batteries and electric vehicles. Currently, lithium is mined in Nassarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Ekiti and Cross River states.

Aware of the situation, the Government declared that no company will be authorized to extract and export raw lithium without a business plan that benefits local communities. “The era of exporting raw solid minerals from Nigeria is over. Any company wishing to invest in the solid minerals industrial sector in Nigeria must henceforth add local value,” Dele Alake, Nigeria’s Minister of Solid Materials, told AFP, noting the creation of transformation and refining facilities in the country. Alake also stated that this measure is essential to help create jobs: “I am pleased to mention that this initiative is already underway, as some companies have already started operations in Nigeria.”

Nigeria is also rich in gold, limestone and zinc, but its mining industry is underdeveloped. It contributes less than 1% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to several environmental experts, the illegal and uncontrolled extraction of minerals leads to environmental degradation with terrible consequences for the population. Something that the Government also says it is paying attention to. However, the country’s miners’ association accuses the Government of a lack of oversight of mining activities.

Jornal de Angola

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