Manchester United football player Odion Ighalo said he is ashamed of the Nigerian government after reports emerged that soldiers shot dead protesters after shooting at them in the Lekki district of the commercial capital Lagos on Tuesday.
Nigerians have been demonstrating for nearly two weeks against the now-disbanded police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), that rights groups had for years accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders.
The unit was disbanded on October 11 but the protests have persisted.
In a Twitter post, the Nigerian Army said no soldiers were at the scene of the shooting.
Nigerian Ighalo said in a video message on Twitter that while he rarely talks about politics he could not stay silent about events back home.
Pray for NIGERIA🇳🇬✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/V7i4Ngs9qd
— Odion Jude Ighalo (@ighalojude) October 20, 2020
“The Nigerian government, you guys are a shame to the world for killing your own citizens, sending military to the streets to kill unarmed protesters because they are protesting for their own rights? It’s uncalled for,” he said.
“You people will be remembered in history as the first government to send the military to the city to start killing their own citizens. I am ashamed of this government, we are tired of you guys and we can’t take this any more.”
Ighalo called on the United Kingdom government and world leaders “to please see what’s going on in Nigeria and help us”.
“They will keep killing if the world don’t talk about this,” he added.
Four witnesses told the Reuters news agency that soldiers fired at the protesters who had gathered in Lekki, defying an indefinite curfew imposed hours earlier.
Hundreds of people were at the site at the time of the shooting.
A witness said more than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire.
Another witness also told Reuters he saw soldiers remove the bodies.
Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu tweeted pictures of him visiting people in hospital who were victims of what he referred to as the “unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki”.
He said 25 people were being treated for mild to moderate injuries, two were receiving intensive care and three had been discharged.
Human rights group Amnesty International said it had received “credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos”, adding that it was investigating “the killings”.