ACCRA, GHANA - Nigerians in Ghana are joining growing diaspora protests against police brutality in the West African nation, spurred on by events on Tuesday night in Lagos where soldiers allegedly opened fire on protesters.
Across the world, people are expressing outrage over the events in Lagos late Tuesday.
On Tuesday, after Lagos state authorities announced a 24-hour curfew, eyewitnesses said soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki Toll Plaza, with casualties reported.
Nigeria’s army denied it was responsible for deaths at the scene, branding stories that blame soldiers for the casualties as “fake news.”
Meanwhile, what started out as a movement to end a notorious police unit has now evolved into demands for widespread reform in Nigeria.
In Accra, on Wednesday about 150 people gathered outside the Nigerian High Commission. Most were from Nigeria but they were supported by a handful of Ghanaian compatriots.
Franklin Digber, a Ghanaian DJ, said he was there because the two nations were intertwined in many aspects, especially with entertainment. He said what was happening in Nigeria was “atrocious” and called for solidarity.
“It’s very necessary we are here. When we saw the George Floyd thing happen and it was like “yes okay, Black lives matter.” This is something that we saw and have solidarity across the world for. So if you are in Ghana and you saw this happening in Nigeria, then we should all come together as people,” said Digber.
Also at the protest was Nigerian citizen Aondohemba Orya. He said he hoped the protests would lead to real change in his country.
“If I was in Lagos yesterday, I would have been at the protest ground because I am passionate about my country. I hate it when people talk bad about Nigeria, if the Nigerian government is good, 50 per cent of Nigerians across the world would go back home - settle back home - and do legitimate business,” said Orya.
There have also been protests and candlelight vigils across the world in the past week, including in Canada, the United Kingdom, the U.S., Egypt, Australia and South Africa.
Damilola Odufuwa in Lagos said it is more important than ever to see global solidarity as Nigeria’s largest city is now under curfew. The activist is one of the founding members of the Feminist Coalition, a Nigerian organization working to get legal help, funding and supplies to protesters across Nigeria.
She wanted global bodies to also speak out for Nigerian protesters and believed international pressure would help Nigerians “exercise our constitutional rights.”
“We are united in this fight against police brutality, and against bad governance. All we want is good leadership and that is what is really touching, to see people come out and stand up for us, and we pray that tomorrow, while we are under some form of curfew where our internet is kind of slowing down, that people speak up for us," said Odufuwa.
As the protest has evolved, the hashtag #EndBadGovernance has also trended on social media. The protests are also backed by global celebrities such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, singing star Beyonce and Nigerian entertainers Davido and Wizkid.
U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the state response to the demonstration on Tuesday, with Clinton tweeting that Nigeria’s president and army should “stop killing young #EndSARS protesters.”