by AljazirahNews | November 17, 2021 4:58 am
By Abdulkadir Umoru, Lagos
Sequel to release of the report by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution on Lekki Toll Gate Shooting Incident and Cases of Police Brutality and human rights violations which indicted the Nigerian Army and the Police of complicity in the death of protesters at the Lekki Toll gate, the United Nations has swiftly called for the implementation of the recommendations of the panel to rebuild trust and start the process of healing and reconciliation.
A statement issued yesterday by UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon indicated that the submission of the report is welcomed.
Kallon stated that the submission of the report would accelerate the process of justice and accountability.
In this vein the UN urged the Lagos State Government and the Federal government to implement the recommendations of the judicial panel of inquiry to rebuild trust and start the process of healing and reconciliation.
The panel concluded that the Nigerian Army shot and killed unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, while they were singing the national anthem, without provocation or justification.
“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 also “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 .
In addition the Lekki Concession Company, LCC, operators of the toll gate, was found to have “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.
The panel stated that “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.
“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”.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had in the wake of the shootings denied that unarmed protesters were killed at the toll gate on October 20, a position that angered many.
The Federal Government as at the time of filling this has not reacted to the panel’s report. But AljazirahNigeria reports that the Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Mohammed, who once described the incident as a “massacre without bodies’ ‘, has come under spiraling condemnation from civil society organisations with some calling for his outright sacking. The Nigerian Army also denied any wrongdoing.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack his Minister immediately.
HURIWA, in a statement pointed out that: “As there has emerged undisputed evidence that indeed there was systematic annihilation of many civilian protesters in Lekki Toll gate in Lagos State last October, we are asking the President Muhammadu Buhari as a father of all to order the arrest and prosecution of his minister of information”.
Meanwhile, other men of good conscience have also reacted to the panel’s report Dr. Aiteo Peterside yesterday thanked God for the courage given to the panel of inquiry but expressed mixed feelings over the report. According to him, he laughed at the government for living in denial about the incidents of EndSARS that no life was lost and the Information Minister repeatedly saying that “It was massacre without bullet” and was not happy for the loss of lives of innocent young Nigerians who want the societal ills corrected and their parents who are mourning their dead. He called on governments to always take responsibility in matters like this and stop always living in denial.
Also Frank Tietie, Deji Adeyanju and the heroine of the EndSARS DJ Cuppy have all reacted thanking God for vindicating the struggle. Frank Tietie admonished the US, British envoys who were inconsistent in their accounts and advised them to shun quick response to issues especially this one that a judicial panel had been set up. He said that the process to healing had just begun but said Nigerians should not expect much from the implementation because not all would be implemented. He thanked the panel and cautioned that the report shouldn’t be swept under the carpet like many others in the past.
However, the Federal government as of the time of going to press has kept quiet on the Lagos Judiciary panels report.
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