Sports stars including heavyweight boxing champ Anthony Joshua and Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo have spoken out amid reports of protestors being shot in Nigeria, with some posting pictures of a bloodied flag.
Protests against police brutality and the now-disbanded unit SARS (the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, have been ongoing in Nigeria throughout October and witnesses said as many as 12 people were killed by soldiers on Tuesday evening when they reportedly opened fire in Lagos.
Everton winger and Nigeria international Alex Iwobi posted a broken heart emoji on Twitter alongside a picture of a blood-soaked Nigerian flag.
British boxing star Joshua, who holds the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight belts and is of Nigerian descent, wrote in a Twitter thread:
“The situation has escalated, the violence and killings are horrendous. All because of people saying they want to live in peace?
“I pray God opens the gates for the heroes of Nigeria! This was never a trend for me! It’s real life and I want to learn how to make lasting change.
“I’m looking at hospitals to support, along with food and care packages in the time being. Change will happen.”
The situation has escalated, the violence and killings are horrendous. All because of people saying they want to live in peace?
Ighalo, who won 35 caps for the Super Eagles before he retired from international football last year, posted a video from the pitch at the Parc des Princes following United’s 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League.
“The Nigerian government, you guys are a shame to the world for killing your own citizens,” he said. “Sending military to the streets to kill unarmed protesters because they are protesting for their own rights? It’s uncalled for.”
Pray for NIGERIA🇳🇬✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/V7i4Ngs9qd
Wilfried Zaha, who plays for Crystal Palace and the Ivory Coast, wrote: “I don’t know what is going on in Nigeria right now but I pray it all stops because it’s painful seeing innocent people killed daily.”
I don’t know what is going on in Nigeria right now but I pray it all stops because it’s painful seeing innocent people killed daily #EndSARS
The protests in Nigeria have been ongoing for two weeks.
A number of other Premier League stars including United striker Marcus Rashford, Chelsea duo Tammy Abraham and Antonio Rudiger, and Leicester City and Nigeria midfielder Wilfred Ndidi have expressed solidarity with protestors throughout October.
So too had Arsenal legend Ian Wright, who retweeted a video from Amnesty International giving a background on SARS, which was accused of committing torture and murder.
The Nigerian army dismissed reports of Tuesday’s shootings on Twitter as “fake news,” but Amnesty International said they had“received credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos.”
An eyewitness said soldiers opened fire on peaceful protestors and prevented ambulances from arriving to treat the wounded in an ordeal that lasted around 90 minutes.