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Nigerians living in SA call for change back home as Buhari appeals for calm

A human rights group claims there were multiple casualties. The Nigerian army, however, denied the involvement of soldiers in the shooting.

Hundreds of Nigerian nationals living in South Africa on 21 October 2020 took to the streets of Pretoria in protest against the widely criticised Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) back home. Picture: Veronica Makhoali/EWN.

CAPE TOWN/ PRETORIA – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday appealed for calm after demonstrations turned bloody this week against the widely criticised Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) with reports of security forces opening fire on protesters in Lagos.

A human rights group claims there were multiple casualties. The Nigerian army, however, denied the involvement of soldiers in the shooting.

On Wednesday, a group of Nigerian nationals living in Cape Town demanded the disbandment of their government over its alleged failure to protect the country’s citizens.

Dozens of protesters marched to Parliament calling for support to bring about change in the west African country. They joined the local leg of the #EndSARS protest.

Many explained that they had to escape their dreadful living conditions back home.

“Nigerians escaped Nigeria. We escaped death and poverty. And we said that must end at least for our unborn children it has to end,” said one protester.

Other demonstrators want international agencies like the United Nations (UN) to assist with peacekeeping.

“They should stop killing us, we are tired. The UN must come to our rescue, they must help us,” a protester said.

Marchers also called on governments around the globe to help bring about change in the country.

PROTEST IN PRETORIA

Meanwhile, the dozens of demonstrators who descended on the capital said they were unhappy with how Nigerian authorities had handled lawlessness and police brutality.

One man said their calls for action extended to several special tactical police squads who were also accused of gross human rights violations in the West African country.

“All the security agencies are inclusive, the military, police, the civil defence, all of them. In Nigeria, we have no rights and people can die without accountability,” he said.

He said Buhari was complicit in the crimes.

“When you keep quiet, you are complicit to the crimes. That is why I’m not afraid to call Buhari the murderer in chief,” the man said.

The violent protests in Nigeria drew condemnation from around the world from the likes of Hillary Clinton, human rights activists, and social media campaigns.

AU CONDEMNS VIOLENCE

At the same time, African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat strongly condemned the violence that erupted in Lagos.

Mahamat encouraged authorities to conduct an investigation to ensure the perpetrators of acts of violence are held to account.

He said all parties should talk to de-escalate the situation and find concrete and durable reforms.

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