The Nigerian music star says that, if nothing changes after the protests “then it is over”.
Nigeria’s protests against police brutality are “the most important moment” in the country’s history, music star Burna Boy has told Sky News.
His words come two weeks after protests began, sparked by a video showing a man being beaten, apparently by police officers from SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad).
Since then, the End SARS movement has spread across Nigeria and at least 56 people have died – 38 of them on Tuesday alone, Amnesty International claims.
Amnesty International said it has evidence of multiple fatalities after armed men used live rounds at a protest against police brutality at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, Africa’s most populous city.
Burna Boy, who spoke to Sky News from London, said: “It is shocking when you see it happen in that place, in such a place, that was the landmark of everything.https://8c4904cb81105f5f0854b343212c431c.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlAdvertisement
“The Lekki Toll Gate, that was the most peaceful place to protest, the most peaceful venue in the whole country and then that is the place where [the shootings] happen. It is not something that you can just wrap your head around.”
The best-selling Afrobeats artist, who has mixed rap, funk and dancehall influences on international hits like On The Low and Ye, said nationwide protests against SARS have changed the nature of politics in his homeland.
“This is the most important moment in Nigeria’s history… that is what we are witnessing right now because if nothing changes after this, if this doesn’t work, then it is over.”
When asked what he meant by this, he replied: “Look at what is going on right now: the youth have come together, like something unexplainable (sic), something that no one man could have possibly organised or led, the youth of the largest black nation in the world came together, said enough is enough and this was triggered by police brutality.
“It’s not like it was triggered by all the other things that it should have been triggered by all these years.”
Burna Boy said Nigerians had a right to know who ordered the shooting at Lekki Gate – and which branch of the security services carried it out.
These questions have not been addressed by the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, who did not mention the violence at the Lekki Toll Gate in a nationally televised address.
“You just can’t kill all these people in this place, whose only crime is asking for a better future and not have any explanation of how it happened.
“How can you, the governor [of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu], wake up next day and say nobody died and just say all this s*** you said? This is what people want to hear. Who is responsible? Who exactly gave the order?”
President Buhari said he has met the demands of the demonstrators, including ordering the disbandment of SARS and the creation of compensation funds for the unit’s victims.
The time has come, Mr Buhari added, for the protesters to desist.
But Burna Boy became angry at the suggestion Nigeria’s policing problems had been solved.
“They have said that before, haven’t they? They’ve said that two or three times, haven’t they? So what makes this time different? So we should go home, everyone should go home because you say it again?
“So far all you have showed me is the blood of my people.”
The West African musician, who has worked with artists such as Drake, Stormzy and Ed Sheeran, said he has little time for his profession as members of his generation fight for a future they can believe in.
“I don’t care about no music right now, it doesn’t matter to me right now, none of that matters to me right now, you know? I don’t want to hear about no music right now.”
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