Written by Staff Writer
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) — Police fired tear gas in Lagos on Friday as protesters on Friday mourned the death of 45 people from a January 28 shooting on the Lekki/Ikoyi stretch of the Toll Gate.
This video footage appears to show the police firing into a crowd, eliciting chants of “No! No!” and a cry of “With blood we will make a change” from some of the thousands of protesters.
Protests have frequently been violent in this country of more than 180 million people, whose international airport handles around 150,000 passengers a day. The detention of activist pastor Taiwo Osipitan and several others this week, for allegedly urging violence during Wednesday protests, was a cause of further anger in the country.
Osipitan was detained for several hours after he traveled from Lagos to Abuja to register a complaint at the police headquarters. The pastor said he was prevented from entering the grounds and released without charge.
Thursday, police announced the arrest of 14 protesters from Gbagada and Ajah, in the Lagos suburbs, for allegedly pelting them with stones. Police have claimed that a mob attacked officers trying to quell protests on January 29, after a civilian guard on duty shot dead a soldier and his colleague.
Amaechi: Lagos belongs to all Nigerians
When asked whether there was any culpability on the part of civilians involved in the January 30 killing, police spokesman Chike Oti told CNN on Thursday that he would not discuss “such sensitive issues.”
Nigeria’s defense minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, spoke out in support of the Lagos police force and accused protesters of taking advantage of mourning to further their own political agenda.
Speaking in Abuja, the capital, Dan-Ali said the Lagos police acted lawfully in quelling an unruly crowd of civilians. He said that police had attempted to clear roads so the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, could respond to a call for help.
“It is very unfortunate that the same criminals are again using innocent Nigerians to serve their selfish political, economic and personal interests, which are detrimental to the security and well-being of this nation. It’s embarrassing,” said Dan-Ali.
“The internal security of Lagos State is largely responsible for the historic incidents that have been discussed. This has affected a number of people from various places and demographics and contributed to the brutal killings of innocent Nigerians.”
He praised the police for what he described as the action they had taken in the past week to “restore peace” to Lagos.
“Indeed, there has been a shift of the reins of power from the federal government to the state governments.”
More than 70 others were injured in the multiple shootings in the Lagos and the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The regional police command in Lagos said 11 of the injured had since been discharged.
Authorities have been struggling to keep protesters under control in Abuja in recent weeks. Thousands of people attended a funeral procession for victims of an attack in October on the Shiite Muslim sect.
Protests sparked by a schoolgirl’s rape
President Muhammadu Buhari issued a public apology in early January for the “bloody clashes” that broke out between law enforcement officers and protesters protesting the rape of a 14-year-old girl by soldiers in northeast Nigeria.
Protests were sparked by the nationwide protest over the 14-year-old girl, who says she was abducted by suspected members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Her family says she was abducted when the group raided a secondary school in the town of Chibok on April 14, 2014, killing more than 200 people.
Buhari said that he approved the judicial inquest to investigate the circumstances that lead to the teenager’s “unfortunate” death.
“I wish to express my regret and to pledge our full commitment to ensuring that this unfortunate incident does not happen again,” Buhari said.