The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll gate has submitted its report to the state government.
KanyiDaily had reported how soldiers opened fire on #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate, on Tuesday night, October 21, 2020, killing an unconfirmed number of persons and injuring so many others.
The #EndSARS protest was held across the country against the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force over cases of brutality, illegal arrest, extortion, extra-judicial killings, among others.
According to the report submitted by the Lagos Judicial panel on Monday, November 15, 2021, nine protesters were confirmed dead while four others were presumed dead.
The report listed 48 names as those who were casualties of the Lekki shooting incident. Among which, 24 sustained gunshot injuries, while 15 others were assaulted by soldiers and police.
The panel, headed by Justice Doris Okuwobi, also noted that 96 other corpses were presented by a Forensic Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Professor John Obafunwa.
Report On Lekki Shooting Of EndSARS Protesters
The report partly reads, ”The evidence before the panel shows that after the Nigerian Army left, Nigeria Police Force, followed up with the killing of the protesters, shooting directly at fleeing protesters into the shanties and the Lagoon at the Lekki Phase 1 Foreshore, close to the Lekki Toll Gate, floating corpse and one shot close to Serah Ibrahim.
“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.
“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.
“The testimony and report of Professor John Obafunwa, a forensic pathologist of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, showed that three corpses were deposited at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba Hospital, all from the Lekki Toll Gate and the autopsy conducted thereon revealed death from bleeding caused by penetrating objects or rifled weapon.
“The panel finds that the fact of lack of identity of some of the other 96 corpses on the list supplied by Professor Obafunwa would not obliterate the fact that some of them could have come from the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of October 20, 2020, or that some other unidentified corpses may have been removed by their families or the military, as claimed by the #EndSARS protesters, far and beyond the list tendered by Professor Obafunwa.”
Victims Of Lekki Massacre
Investigation By Lagos Judicial Panel On #EndSARS
The Panel reached its findings and prepared its reports despite the evidence of the Nigerian Army that was limited, as most of the officers who were summoned and who filed affidavits never appeared before the Panel.
At the conclusion of the investigation of all relevant parties, key issues which called for determination and upon which the findings of the Panel were based are summarized as follows:
1. That the Nigerian Army was invited for intervention in the State and was deployed to Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th of October 2020. At the Lekki Toll Gate, 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 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.
2. The Panel 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.
3. The panel found that LCC 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. 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.
4. The Panel found 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.
5. 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.
Upon the above key findings amongst others, the Panel made a total of 32 recommendations, which included but not limited to:
• Holistic Police Reforms covering welfare, training and proper equipping of Policemen and their working environment;
• Sanctioning of the officers of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force respectively who participated in shooting, injuring and killing of unarmed protestors at the Lekki Toll Gate on the 20 and 21st of October 2020;
• Development of more robust engagement between the Youth and the Government;
• Setting up of a Standing Committee/Tribunal to deal with cases of Violation of Human Rights by security agencies and a trust fund to settle compensation awarded by such committee/tribunal;
• A public apology to #ENDSARS protesters who were killed, injured and traumatized by the Incident of the 20th of October 2020;
• The memorialization of the Lekki Toll Gate and the 20th of October going forward
At the presentation of the report on Monday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu promised to set up a Four-Man Committee led by the Honourable Attorney-General to prepare a White Paper for the purpose of implementing the findings and recommendations expressed in the report and to give it legal backing; and to send the report to the National Economic Council for implementation.
This comes a few weeks after the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed insisted that nobody was killed during last year’s EndSARS protest at the Lekki Tollgate.