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It has been a year to the day since security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki tollgate. The shooting quashed Nigeria’s nascent youth protest movement known as #EndSARS. No one has yet been held responsible for the violence.

Organizers of Wednesday’s protests called the deceased “fallen heroes” and said they had to show up at the toll booth to remember them.

There was sometimes an impasse between security forces and protesters, who made a handful of arrests, including a man who was being interviewed by CNN.

Ahead of the commemorative event, organizers and the Lagos State Police Commissioner agreed that the only way a protest could take place was in vehicles and not by steps on the street.

However, some of the protesters took to the streets chanting “solidarity forever” and “how many of us are you going to kill? “

Police quickly released tear gas to disperse those demonstrating in the streets, calling them “disbelievers” in a media interview.

Meanwhile, at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the Nigerian government again denied that police fired on protesters on October 20 last year – calling it a “phantom massacre” – and called described CNN’s reports of the shooting as “baseless”. “

In a report released Tuesday, the mother of a 32-year-old man who took part in last year’s protest at Lekki’s tollgate told CNN how she found him lying in a pool of blood on the ground after running to the scene when she heard about the shooting.

“When I saw my son I screamed and held him … There was too much blood, there was a gunshot wound on his chest. His clothes were torn and the bullet came out. her back, “she said, crying.

Her son died in her arms as she tried to take him to the hospital. A year later, she is still waiting for answers on what happened.

CNN also spoke to several families during an investigation last year who had yet to locate the bodies of their missing loved ones – protesters at the toll booth – who, according to dozens of eyewitnesses, were shot dead, from first by members of the Nigerian army, then by members of the Nigerian army. hours later by the police.
There is no official toll, but an Amnesty International investigation found that at least 12 people died at the Lekki tollgate and another site on October 20 last year.

Eyewitnesses told CNN they saw the military remove a number of bodies from the scene.

The #EndSARS protests lasted nearly two weeks in October 2020 before being silenced by the Lekki toll shooting. Their initial demands were the shutdown of a notorious police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, but the marches turned into protests campaigning for police reform and an end to bad governance. in the oil-rich country.

CNN’s Stephanie Busari reported from Lagos and Nimi Princewill from Abuja.


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