“We will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions.”
Earlier, senior officials of the United States Government on Thursday met with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and expressed displeasure over the shootings.
Although the Nigerian Army had denied deploying soldiers to the scene, the US officials demanded that the soldiers behind the shootings be brought to justice.
The spokesperson for the State Department, Morgan Ortagus, said in a statement that the officials were led by the Counsellor of the US State Department, Ulrich Brechbühl.
Others at the meeting include Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali.
The officials, according to the statement, raised concerns over the ongoing violence in Nigeria as well as human rights violations and human trafficking.
The statement read in part, “Counsellor T. Ulrich Brechbühl met with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo today in Abuja, Nigeria as part of a previously scheduled delegation, which included Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali, to raise US concerns about ongoing violence in Nigeria, human rights, religious freedom, and trafficking in persons, and to hear from senior Nigerian government officials how they are addressing those issues.
“The counsellor expressed the US condemnation of the use of excessive force by military forces that fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos. He expressed condolences to the victims of these shootings and urged the government of Nigeria to abide by its commitment to hold those responsible accountable under the law.”
According to the statement, Osinbajo, as well as the counsellor, noted that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles.
“Counsellor Brechbühl and Vice-President Osinbajo emphasised the importance of US and Nigerian collaboration on common goals of improving security cooperation and strengthening economic partnership to foster mutual prosperity,” the statement read.
The Nigerian Army had on Wednesday denied that soldiers were at the toll plaza despite eyewitnesses’ accounts and video evidence showing soldiers shooting.
International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, had also acknowledged receipts of complaints over the incident.
She tweeted, “My office has been closely following the events around the current protests in Nigeria and the reaction of Nigeria’s law enforcement and security agencies.
“Any loss of life or injury is concerning. We have received information alleging crimes and are keeping a close eye on developments, in case violence escalates and any indications arise on that Rome Statute crimes may have been committed.”
However, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) made no mention of any investigation or arrest during his national broadcast on Thursday.