Young people in Cork call for action against police brutality in home country of Nigeria

Young people in Cork call for action against police brutality in home country of Nigeria

Angela Akinwunmi during the candlelight procession held on Wednesday night in Cork city. Photo credit: DavidAkPhotox photography.

Nigerian youths in Cork have called for action to be taken against police brutality in their home country.

Protests in Nigeria started with calls for a police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), to be disbanded.

The peaceful protests began on October 8, after a video allegedly showing a man being beaten by a SARS operative circulated online.

President Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the Sars unit days later, but the protests continued, demanding broader reforms in the way Nigeria is governed, and escalated on Tuesday last as video footage of unarmed protesters being shot at in Lagos emerged.

Rights group Amnesty International said security forces killed at least 12 people but Nigeria's army denied any involvement.

Nigeria's chief of police Mohammed Adamu has since ordered the immediate mobilisation of all police resources to put an end to street violence and looting.

Volunteers sweep burnt out tyres on the roads in Lagos Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Nigeria's president says 51 civilians have been killed in unrest following days of peaceful protests over police abuses, and he blames "hooliganism" for the violence while asserting that security forces have used "extreme restraint."(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Volunteers sweep burnt out tyres on the roads in Lagos Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Nigeria's president says 51 civilians have been killed in unrest following days of peaceful protests over police abuses, and he blames "hooliganism" for the violence while asserting that security forces have used "extreme restraint."(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

He said criminals had hijacked anti-police brutality protests and taken over public spaces.

Angela Akinwunmi, who had been taking part in peaceful protests here in Cork before Level 5 measures were introduced, is calling on the Irish Government to put pressure on a Nigerian government that has “turned a blind eye”.

A candlelight procession was held on St Patrick’s Street on Wednesday in remembrance of the victims of the Lekki shootings and for those who have lost their lives under police brutality.

Due to Level 5 restrictions, Ms Akinwunmi said that protests in Cork city will not continue but an online meeting was held with Lord Mayor of Cork Joe Kavanagh over the weekend.

Protestors have also written a letter in the hope that Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and President Michael D Higgins will respond.

Explaining the current situation in her country, she told The Echo: “For a very long time there has been police brutality against citizens. 

“People, especially young people, have become sick and tired of the brutality so they decided to protest. It’s just too much, people are angry." 

Ms Akinwunmi, who has been living in Ireland for almost 20 years, said she is worried for her family members who remain in Lagos.

“People are hurt, I’m hurt," she said. "I have family in Lagos where it happened, they live nearby and I’m worried.

 "Everybody is worried about their families back home and we just want Ireland and other countries in the EU to speak up." 

“We want that international pressure on the Government of Nigeria because they are just in silence and they are turning a blind eye and that is just not on at all." 

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