LAGOS State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for victims of SARS-related abuses and other matters has disclosed in its report that the Nigerian Army shot and killed unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
According to the Panel of Inquiry, “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 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 stated.
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.
It noted that the soldiers “removed many bodies and corpses of fallen protesters which they took away in their vans.
“One of the protesters who was shot and taken for dead, Olalekan Sanusi, who eventually escaped to narrate his ordeal and experience stated that 11 corpses were in the van, where he was placed in and presumed dead. Miss Dabira Ayuku also corroborated the above by stating that she saw about 7 dead bodies placed in one of the military trucks at the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of 20th October 2020.”
“It was alleged and corroborated that soldiers picked bullet shells on the night of October 20 and policemen followed up in the morning of October 21 to pick bullet shells.
“Several unidentified bodies were removed by security agencies and LASEHMU (Lagos State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit) and deposited at various hospital mortuaries in Lagos State,” it stated.
“Three trucks with brushes underneath were brought to the Lekki Toll Gate in the morning of October 21st October 2020 to clean up the scene of bloodstains and other evidence.
“There was abundant evidence before the Panel that the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) indicated in its Twitter handle that it had effectively cleaned up the Lekki Toll Gate scene immediately after the incident of October 20, 2020.”
It stated that many victims of the Lekki tollgate massacre were overwhelmed with fear of persecution and harassment and thus unwilling to be identified publicly.
The Panel noted “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 report however concludes that “the cases of death or injured protesters was credible and uncontroverted.”
“The Army was also found not to have adhered to its own Rules of Engagement.”
The federal government had denied that unarmed protesters were killed at the toll gate on October 20. The Nigerian Army also denied any wrongdoing.
The Panel of Inquiry was chaired by Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge, Babajide Boye is the secretary while Jonathan Ogunsanya is its legal counsel.
Members of the panels include Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a senior lawyer, Fredrick Taiwo Olakanu, a retired deputy inspector general of police , Patience Udoh, Segun Awosanya, Oluwatoyin Odusanya, Lucas Koyejo, and Temitope Majekodunmi.