The Nigerian Army has revealed that its troops were invited to Lekki by the Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led Lagos State Government to intervene in the fallout of the #EndSARS protest after he imposed a curfew in the state.
KanyiDaily had reported how Nigerian Soldiers opened fire on peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate, killing nine people and injuring so many others on Tuesday night, October 21, 2020.
Following the incident, Governor Sanwo-Olu blamed “forces beyond his control” for the attack, while insisting that he had no authority over military engagements.
Initially, the Nigerian Army denied deploying soldiers to the shooting scene at Lekki, adding that videos showing soldiers opening fire on the protesters were untrue as it was photoshopped.
However, the Army Chief, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai admitted that Nigerian soldiers were deployed to Lekki, noting that the officers were only ensuring compliance with a curfew put in place by Sanwo-Olu, earlier that day during the #EndSARS protest.
During an interview with CNN on Monday, Governor Sanwo-Olu pointed accusing fingers at the Nigerian Army for being responsible for the shooting of protesters at Lekki toll gate.
The 81 Division of the Nigerian Army have now reacted to the accusation in a statement issued on Tuesday by its acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Major Osoba Olaniyi.
In the statement titled “Alleged Massacre of Protesters at Lekki Toll Plaza”, the Army said its troops were deployed to Lekki, but that its operatives never opened fire on the protesters.
The Army Division explained that the intervention of the soldiers was on the request of the Lagos State Government to restor order to the troubled state.
“The attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilian protesters were massacred by soldiers at Lekki Toll Plaza.
“This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country. At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian.
“From the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos were involved.
“However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government (LASG) after a 24-hour curfew was imposed.
“This was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.
“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.
“The intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for Internal Security operations and all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Internal Security operations.
“Finally, Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army reiterates Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities did not shoot at any civilian as there are glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact.
“This allegation is the hand work of mischief makers who will stop at nothing to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Army. The general public is hereby enjoined to discountenance this allegation as there is no iota of truth therein,” he added.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that peaceful #EndSARS protesters killed at Lekki Toll Gate will get justice.