Nigerian police arrested a small group of protesters in Lagos on Saturday after attempting to hold a rally calling for justice for victims of deadly shooting during demonstrations last year.
Activists called for new protests on Saturday after a judicial committee approved the reopening of the city’s huge Lekki tollbooth, where security forces shot protesters in October.
The mostly youth-led # EndSARS protests against police brutality and governance last year brought Africa’s largest city to a standstill in October in a campaign that was supported by many high-profile celebrities.
The police on Saturday bundled around 17 protesters in a black truck at the toll booth, where security forces had been stationed since Friday evening, said an AFP reporter on site.
“The Lekki toll booth should be turned into a resistance museum rather than a money-making memorial,” said 24-year-old Damilare Adebola, speaking from the police car in which he was being held.
There were no other protesters at the gate and traffic flowed normally. Some drivers sang “End SARS” as they drove by.
A young protester in a red T-shirt managed to get away from the police who were chasing him.
The Nigerian government warned this week against holding new protests in Lekki, saying the rallies could lead to violence in the name of justice.
“We call on all Nigerian authorities to demonstrate commitment to protecting the right to peaceful protest,” watchdog Amnesty International told Twitter.
The original #EndSARS protests, named after the SARS police charged with abuse, continued to spread even after the government disbanded the unit and promised reforms.
The demonstrations ended abruptly after the shooting in Lagos and a subsequent wave of looting and unrest.
An investigation into the violence in Lekki last year stalled as representatives of the armed forces failed to appear before the panel.
Security forces say they only used empty rounds to break up demonstrators who opposed a curfew, despite Amnesty International said soldiers shot at least 10 people.
Following the fatal shooting in October, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and the UK called on authorities not to use excessive force.
The wave of protests in October was the biggest show of force in years in Africa’s most populous nation, as young people gathered to demand broader change.
The huge motorway tollbooth at Lekki in Lagos became the epicenter of the protest movement, in which musicians and celebrities took part in rallies during weeks of demonstrations.