Nigeria shooting that killed protester condemned as massacre

Image copyright The Guardian Image caption One person was killed and several others injured in the shooting

A judicial panel has condemned the shooting of 25 protesters as “a massacre” in Lagos, Nigeria.

The protesters had gathered outside a toll gate in the Lekki division to complain of the use of force to force them out of the territory.

Officers of the Nigeria Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) fired at the crowd, killing one and injuring four.

It came as the government started collecting toll fees from motorists using the 26-mile bridge.

Protests against the toll booths – which cost drivers about 60 naira (20p) to cross – have continued in Lagos.

Image copyright The Guardian Image caption About 50,000 people are expected to cross the bridge each day

According to a local report, the judicial panel’s report released on Tuesday said: “In our esteemed findings the detention of those arrested and the shooting of those of the protesting community was a crime punishable by law”.

It added that the use of SARS had caused “a dangerous mix of law enforcement actions.”

Image copyright ABC Image caption Workers set up heavy machinery on the highway to force traffic through

“This strike is not a criminal action. The action of the protesters was completely legal and was a manifestation of rights enshrined in the constitution,” it said.

“That to kill, injure, to maliciously destroy property, is considered a violent act without any justification on the part of any of the protesters. The use of crude weaponry to suppress crowd is also a violent act without any justification.”

On Saturday, 50,000 vehicles moved across the bridge and thousands more turned up to use it the following day.

But the new tolls, which have led to a heavy traffic snarl up on the Murtala Muhammed International Airport to Lagos roads, have turned the political scene upside down in the oil-rich nation.

Traffic arrived at the toll booths by all means – from buses, commercial vehicles, taxis and from private cars. But it is clear that the new rules are scaring some away.

“I do not think we are going to get much support from Lagos residents over this,” said BBC correspondent John Daley in Lagos.

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