Lekki Tollgate Shooting Was A Massacre: Lagos State Panel of inquiry Faults Nigerian army in Lekki ‘massacre’

Lekki Tollgate Shooting Was A Massacre: Panel Of Inquiry Faults Nigerian Army In Lekki ‘Massacre’
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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.

EndSARS

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.

Lekki Tollgate during the peaceful protest of October 2020… [File: thenationonline]

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.

Lekki Tollgate Shooting Was A Massacre: Panel Of Inquiry Faults Nigerian Army In Lekki ‘Massacre’
Peaceful protesters Lekki Tollgate before the shooting. [File: Vanguard]

Details.

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.

Lekki Tollgate Shooting Was A Massacre: Panel Of Inquiry Faults Nigerian Army In Lekki ‘Massacre’
Nigerian soldiers at the Lekki Tollgate during the shooting . [File: pmnewsnigeria]

“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.

Lekki Tollgate Shooting Was A Massacre: Panel Of Inquiry Faults Nigerian Army In Lekki ‘Massacre’
Nigerian flag soaked with blood after the Lekki shooting. [File: indepthnews]

“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.


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