Lekki Tollgate Shooting Was A Massacre: Panel Of Inquiry Faults Nigerian Army In Lekki ‘Massacre’
Report confirms that there were casualties as well as efforts to cover up shooting of unarmed #EndSARS demonstrators at Lagos’s Lekki last year.
There had been a public outcry by young Nigerians over the years against the repeated occurrences of torture, maiming, extortions, and even murder at the hands of security operatives in the especially the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a dishonest police unit. These complaints led to a widespread peaceful #EndSARS protests across the country.
The peaceful EndSARS protest was brought to an abrupt end on the evening of October 20, 2020 by men of the Nigerian Army who shot at a large number of peaceful youths at the toll-gate plaza in Lekki with live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the protesters. Young men Protesting against brutality were met with more brutality.
However the Government denied any wrongdoings by the Army irrespective of the fact that the shooting was caught on camera and streamed on social media. Witness accounts and findings by news reports and rights groups were overlooked. Information Minister Lai Mohammed described the incident as a “phantom massacre” and threatened to sanction CNN journalists for an investigation into the matter.
In the Aftermath of the shooting, the Lagos State Government set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters (Lagos EndSARS Panel) to investigate the matter. In its report submitted to the Lagos State government on Monday, the panel has faulted the Nigerian military in the shooting, killing and forced disappearances of unarmed citizens protesting against police brutality at the Lekki Tollgate in the city of Lagos in October 20, 2020.
According to the report, “the Nigerian Army was invited for intervention in the State and was deployed to Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th of October 2020.
“At the Lekki Toll Gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenseless protesters, without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian Flag and singing the National Anthem and the manner of assault and killing could, in context, be described as a massacre.
“The Panel also found that the conduct of the Nigerian Army was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances render medical assistance to victims who required such assistance.
“The Army was also found not to have adhered to its own Rules of Engagement.
“The Panel found that the Nigerian Police Force deployed its officers to the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of the 20th October, 2020 and between that night and the morning of the 21st of October, 2020, its officer shot at, assaulted and battered unarmed protesters, which led to injuries and deaths.
“The police officers also tried to cover up their actions by picking up bullets.
“The panel found that LCC hampered the panel’s investigation by refusing to turn over some useful and vital information/evidence as requested by the Panel and the Forensic Expert engaged by the panel, even where such information and evidence was by the company’s admission, available.
“It manipulated the incomplete CCTV Video footage of the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of the 20th of October 2020, which it tendered before the Panel.
“The Panel found that there was an invitation of the Nigerian Army to Lagos State made by the Lagos State Government through the Governor before the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army deployed its soldiers to the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of the 20th of October.
“The Panel found that there was an attempt to cover up the Incident of the 20th of October by the cleaning of the Lekki Toll Gate and the failure to preserve the scene ahead of potential investigations.”
Right now, Nigerians and the world at large are waiting for the Government’s reaction to the reports of the Lagos panel. Right now, most people would love to see justice delivered on the issue.