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Youth rep quits Lagos panel on protester shootings, police brutality

by Reuters
Friday, 12 February 2021 19:45 GMT

LAGOS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - One of the two youth members of a Lagos state panel investigating police brutality and the deadly shooting of protesters has resigned, she wrote in a tweet on Friday.

Rinu Oduala, 22, cited "undue intimidation of peaceful protesters" and the panel's recent vote to re-open Lekki Toll Gate, where the Oct. 20 shootings took place, before the panel concluded its investigation.

"I will be stepping down from the Lagos Judicial Panel as it is now obvious that the government is only out to use us for performative actions," she said in a Tweet.

A Lagos state government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters could not reach the panel for comment.

It was not immediately clear whether the panel, which convened on Oct. 26, promising neutrality and justice, could move forward without both youth members.

Thousands of Nigerians protested nationwide for nearly two weeks last October, demanding an end to a police unit called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which they said was responsible for extortion and human rights abuses. The police disbanded SARS, but denied most accusations.

On Oct. 20, witnesses and groups such as Amnesty International said soldiers opened fire at protesters, killing some. The military has denied shooting live rounds and the police have denied involvement.

In the aftermath, the government directed each state to convene a panel to investigate police brutality claims. The Lagos panel was also tasked with investigating the shootings.

But protesters have since been detained, had bank accounts frozen, and received threatening and harassing calls that they say come from those linked to government.

Nigeria's information minister warned activists earlier this week to drop plans for a protest in Lagos over the reopening of the toll gate, saying it risked being "hijacked by hoodlums". (Reporting By Alexis Akwagyiram and Libby George; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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