After long months – over a year – of painful wait by the victims of the #LekkiMassacre and the rest of the world, on the 15th of November, 2021, the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution on the Lekki Toll Gate Shooting Incident and Cases of Police Brutality handed over a 309-page report on the infamous #EndSars Protests cum Lekki Toll Gate shootings to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
Read more about #EndSARS
Despite hitches, delays, scepticism, and denials by the federal government and its allies, the Panel led by Retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, Retired Deputy Inspector General of Police Frederick Taiwo Lakanu, a representative of the Civil Society, Patience Udoh; Ebun Adegboruwa (SAN); the Director of Lagos Citizens Mediation Centre, Olutoyin Odunsanya, Segun Awosanya, a human rights activist, and Temitope Majekodunmi, a youth representative, after series of questioning eyewitnesses, victims, experts and lawyers, submitted the following findings;
First, the Nigerian Army on the 20th of October 2020, deliberately opened fire on unarmed, defenceless, and helpless protesters, without any provocations or justifications, at the Lekki Toll Gate, killing 11 people. The shooting went on despite the waving of the Nigerian flag and the singing of the national anthem by protesters.
Second, the Nigerian Army refused ambulances access to killed and injured protesters, hindering them from offering the victims any form of medical assistance, which worsened the incident, and was a breach of the Rules of Engagement on the part of the Nigerian Army.
Third, the Nigerian Police Force officers deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of 20th of October also shot at unarmed, defenceless and already injured protesters. In an attempt to cover up their act, the Nigerian Police Force were seen picking up bullets.
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Fourth, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) whose CCTV captured the event of that night initially denied the Panel access to its CCTV video footage and when the video footage was finally released, it had been tampered with. However, the forensic experts engaged by the Panel claimed that shootings had happened as they were able to match the bullets with the guns of the Nigerian Army and Police used at the October Incident.
Fifth, the Lagos Government had requested the presence of the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Toll Gate. Despite the first request, the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army deployed another set of its military personnel to the area. Therefore, there was a heavy military presence and eventual shootings of which they tried to clean up the scene of the shooting, intending to erase all forms of evidence.
With all the abovementioned findings, Retired Honourable Justice Doris Okuwobi asserted that,
“The atrocious maiming and killing of unarmed, helpless and unresisting protesters, while sitting on the floor and waving their Nigerian flags, while singing the National Anthem can be equated to a ‘massacre’ in context.”
With this exposition coming a few weeks after Minister for Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed had called the Lekki Massacre a mirage, a “bloodless and business” massacre and a “massacre without blood”, the Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu promised to release a White Paper to the effect, which will consist of carrying out the 32 recommendations of the Panel that hinged on public apology by the State and Federal Governments to the affected victims of the EndSars protest, police reforms, institution of human rights watch and organisations, and development of robust engagement between Youths and the Government.
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