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The civil unrest reached a tipping point on Tuesday when soldiers reportedly shot several protesters dead after a 24-hour curfew went into effect in Lagos state, which is home to Nigeria’s largest city of Lagos.
According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International, at least 56 people have died in the demonstrations. The group also alleges that “thugs” had been hired by the police to confront protesters and are among those who have been killed.
President Muhammadu Buhari is facing the daunting task of how to confront the protests and subsequent violence. He said that demonstrators should back off from the protests and help work to reform the issues at play.
Buhari, who assumed office in 2015 and was reelected in February of last year, told protesters to “resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos,” according to CNN. He called upon Nigerian “youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear, and we are responding.”
The United States and the United Nations have both called for an end to the violence and to respect the rights of peaceful protesters.
“The United States strongly condemns the use of excessive force by military forces who fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos, causing death and injury,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a Thursday statement. “The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles.”
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said that Guterres is calling on authorities in Nigeria “to act at all times with maximum restraint while calling on protestors to demonstrate peacefully and to refrain from violence.”
Original Author: Zachary Halaschak