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Lack of self-control on behalf of Tukur Yusuf points to firearms in vicinity of scene
Analysis of CCTV footage from Lekki toll gate raises new questions about shooting
A debate is brewing in Nigeria over the use of firearms by security forces following the fatal shooting of a suspected kidnapper at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos state on Thursday.
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Initial evidence suggests that the shooting occurred following a scuffle during which the victim had thrown coins at the officers, who were armed with sticks and knives.
But a reported shortage of self-control on the man’s part raises the question of whether firearms were present in a more significant presence in the area, which is cordoned off by CCTV cameras.
Video footage posted on social media on Friday shows a man in a tracksuit chase after two officers who are following a car with tinted windows.
A woman and a child are captured on CCTV apparently holding hands in a struggle with the men. Some of the officers can be seen pushing the woman aside before a shot is fired.
An eyewitness tells a BBC reporter on scene that the woman is a victim of violence from Boko Haram, which is fighting to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
Jonathan Nyarko (@NyarkoUK) I’m at the toll gate and I’m interviewing a lady and her daughter. They were assaulted by a gunman, I believe they were from Boko Haram. She says their (Boko Haram’s) men targeted her as well.
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A female police officer was killed in the incident and four people were wounded, the Guardian understands.
Of the 10 dead, seven were believed to be members of the 1st Battalion Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) from the army’s 82 Division, Lagos command, a military source has said.
But Human Rights Watch has suggested that an officer from the Lagos state police station was also killed, possibly by his colleague.
A manhunt was under way for members of the group involved in the shooting on Friday morning.
On Thursday, the Lagos state police commissioner, Imohimi Edgal, said officers were trying to clarify the circumstances of the incident.
Edgal said the arresting officers “probably used their firearms when he resisted the arrest and they have been carrying firearm all of their lives”.
“But when I was talking to the SARS people, they said ‘no, this guy threw two hands at us, I won’t allow you do that because he’s dangerous, you will have trouble with him’,” he added.
Tukur Yusuf, a member of the cult group Generation Next, was shot dead by officers at a toll gate on the outskirts of Lagos. Photograph: Flickr/Gabriel Adelmea
“The man continued to resist the arrest and the officers were asking him to stop resisting and not attempt to bite, and the person continued to continue resisting, so two of the policemen reached out and pushed him. So he reacted with hitting with a stick and pulling his hand in the air, causing another one of the SARS operatives to shoot him dead and the rest of them ran.”
But Gordon Oluwole, a professor of African history at the University of Ibadan, said the response to the man’s suspected involvement in kidnapping was typically over the top in Nigeria.
Oluwole said it was common for suspected members of criminal groups to be killed by security agencies.
“If the person was a kidnapper, there is need for the arresting officers to exercise necessary caution. No arrest should be made without evidence,” he said.
“However, the action of killing someone in order to seize his object or hand, is criminal. It is a blood libel and constitutes the negation of human dignity and is punishable by law.”
But Oluwole said the mass killing of suspected kidnappers was not a uniquely Nigerian phenomenon, and part of an enduring African tradition.
“Most of the major cases of abduction in Nigeria take place where there is the presence of a rural community or armed groups who mount ambushes, kill the abductees and then abandon the objects,” he said.
• This article was amended on 2 February 2020. An earlier version said it was believed that Jonathan Nyarko is a member of the Red Cross. This has been corrected to a different journalist.