The Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by Lagos State has said that officers and soldiers of 65 Batallion of the Nigerian Army, led by Lt. Col Bello, and men of Nigeria Police Police “directly and pointedly” shot and killed peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
We sighted the report indicting the Lagos State Government, Nigerian Army and Police in the death of defenseless youths at Lekki Toll Gate and an attempt to cover it up.
The report uncovered that army officers were deployed to the tollgate on October 20, 2020, with blank and live ammunition to confront peaceful protesters holding national flags. It added that live bullets were shot directly and pointedly amidst “defenseless members of the civil populace, youth and young adults” to “assault, maim and kill”.
Nigerian police shot and killed protesters at the Toll Gate waterside after the soldiers left Lekki Toll Gate”, the panel furthered.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution on Lekki Toll Gate shooting Incident and cases of Police brutality had on Monday submitted the report to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
After one year, Nigerian youths accused the government of massacring peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20th, 2020, the End SARS panel in the report said it discovered that the cases of death; massacre or injured protesters were credible and uncontroverted.
The soldiers were also nailed for turning back ambulances that were invited to render first aid and assistance to the wounded protesters.
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry concluded that what happened at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20 2020 was a massacre considering that protesters were defenseless members of the civil populace, youth and young adults; which “both the Lagos State Government and indeed the Federal Government were well aware of their status, objectives and the nature of their protest”.
The panel added that the presence of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate did not threaten the territorial integrity of Nigeria and could not be considered as a civil insurrection to warrant the intervention of the Nigerian Army.
Nigerian soldiers, according to the report, took one of the protesters for dead, Olalekan Sanusi escaped and narrated that 11 corpses were in the van, where he was placed and presumed dead.
It was alleged and corroborated that the soldiers had their vans parked at the Lekki Toll Gate and removed as many bodies and corpses of the fallen protesters which they took away with their vans.
Another eyewitness, Miss Dabira Ayuku, told the panel that she saw about seven dead bodies placed in one of the military trucks at the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of 20th October 2020.
Attempt to Cover up
The panel revealed that there are abundant evidence in its possession indicating that the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) “effectively cleaned up the Lekki Toll Gate scene immediately after the incident of October 20, 2020.”
The panel disclosed that three trucks with brushes underneath were brought to the scene of massacre in the morning of October 21 to clean up the scene of bloodstains and other evidence.
It further revealed that several unidentified bodies were removed by security personnel and Lagos State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit and deposited at various hospital mortuaries in Lagos State.
The Panel uncovered that “most EndSARS protesters and victims of the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of October 20, 2020 were largely unwilling to be identified in public for fear of persecution or harassment by the security agencies and the government generally.
“Immediately after the protest, there was palpable fear that the Army and Police were visiting hospitals to ‘finish up’ the protesters to the extent that some of them could not return home immediately. Some of the protesters received threats and some were being trailed by unknown persons.