Lekki shootings: Ighalo, Anthony Joshua criticise Nigerian government

World heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua and Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo have condemned the Nigerian government following reports that soldiers opened fire on protesters in Lagos.

Nigerians have been demonstrating peacefully nationwide every day for nearly two weeks against a police unit called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). SARS have been roundly accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders.

The government announced that the unit was disbanded on October 11 but the protests have persisted and at least two people were shot on Tuesday. The immediate announcement by the Police chief of a new unit called SWAT created the doubts.

In a Twitter post, the Nigerian Army said no soldiers were at the scene of the shooting but several videos have been posted online indicating that the soldiers were indeed at the scene.

Joshua has called for change while Ighalo, following United’s 2-1 Champions League win over PSG, released a video message criticising the country’s government.

Joshua said: “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.”

Ighalo posted his tweet from the Parc des Princes pitch, having been an unused substitute on Tuesday night.

Ighalo said: “The Nigerian government, you guys are a shame to the world for killing your own citizens, sending military to the streets to kill unarmed protesters because they are protesting for their own rights? It’s uncalled for.

“You people will be remembered in history as the first government to send the military to the city to start killing their own citizens. I am ashamed of this government, we are tired of you guys and we can’t take this anymore.”

Ighalo, who won 35 caps for Nigeria before retiring from international football after last year’s Africa Cup of Nations, has called on the world to continue to bring awareness to the situation in his country.

His video was shared to millions of people through team-mate Marcus Rashford and former United star Rio Ferdinand.

“They will keep killing if the world don’t talk about this,” added Ighalo.