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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari Appeals to Youth to End Street Protests

People rise their hands as they approach a police check point in Lagos, Nigeria, Thursday Oct. 22, 2020. Lagos streets were empty and shops were shuttered Thursday, as residents of Nigeria's largest city obeyed the government's curfew, stopping the…

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is urging youth involved in protests against police brutality to end the demonstrations and begin a dialogue with the government.

In Buhari's address to the nation Thursday, his first public comments on the unrest gripping Nigeria, he urged protesters to not be used by subversive elements seeking to create chaos with the aim of truncating the country's democracy. However, Buhari did not mention the shooting by security forces of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll plaza earlier this week. At least 12 protesters were shot dead by Nigerian Security Forces.

In a series of tweets late Wednesday, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo expressed his condolences and promised justice for those shot dead at the Lekki toll plaza.

The United States on Thursday condemned police brutality in Lagos.

“We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces. Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Amnesty International on Wednesday reported that a total of 38 people died in protest-related violence on Tuesday. Amnesty International also said at least 56 people have been killed over the past two weeks in protests directed at the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, which the international rights group accused of torture and murders.

The government disbanded SARS last week, but that has not tempered the outrage.

Nigeria’s military has denied responsibility for the shootings near the Lekki toll gates.

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