UN’s Antonio Guterres condemns Nigerian protest violence

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Oct. 21 (UPI) — United Nations’ Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Wednesday condemned the escalation of violence during protests in Nigeria on Tuesday that led to one death and numerous injuries.

Guterres called for an end to police brutality and abuse, according to a statement from his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

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Police in Lagos fired shots in the air Wednesday in an attempt to disperse demonstrators who took to the streets despite curfews and shelter-in orders.

One person died from a shooting in the upmarket suburb of Lekki Tuesday and others hurt in the violence, Lagos State Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said Wednesday. Witnesses blamed the police for ratcheting up the chaos.

Protesters by the thousands had demanded the government shutdown the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, accusing it of police brutality and harassment. While the government ended the squad’s operations on Oct. 11, the protests continued, calling for more law enforcement changes.

“The Secretary-General encourages the authorities to swiftly explore avenues to de-escalate the situation,” a statement from the United Nations said. “He reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to support national efforts towards finding a solution.”

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nation’s human rights chief, condemned the use of force authorities used against protesters, saying it was disproportionate to what was needed.

“While the number of casualties of yesterday’s shooting at the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos is still not clear, there is little doubt that this was a case of excessive use of force, resulting in unlawful killings with live ammunition, by Nigerian armed forces,” Bachelet said.

Sanwo-Olu called the violence “an isolated incident” and was not sure if the person who died was a protester. He said 30 people were being treated for “mild to moderate” injuries.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement called for calm..

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