Nigeria's Lekki Toll Gate shooting was a massacre, panel says

The Nigerian military shot dead at least 11 peaceful unarmed protesters and injured dozens more during a protest last year, in an incide...

The Nigerian military shot dead at least 11 peaceful unarmed protesters and injured dozens more during a protest last year, in an incident that can be described as a massacre, a government panel found.

Four other people were missing and now “presumed dead”, according to the expert group report of October 20, 2020, pulling on a toll in Lekki, an upscale suburb of Lagos, in southwest Nigeria.

The “atrocious mutilations and killings of unarmed, helpless and unresisting demonstrators, as they sat on the ground and waved their Nigerian flags, while singing the national anthem can be likened to a ‘massacre’ in the context,” the Lagos State Court report said. SARS Abuse Restitution Inquiry Group and Other Issues.

The demonstration at the Lekki tollgate was one of the many demonstrations across the country at the time against police brutality. The anger of the demonstrators was particularly focused on the Special Anti-Theft Brigade (SARS), a notoriously corrupt police unit.

The panel’s report, which was submitted to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, was leaked to the media on Monday and a copy was obtained by The New York Times. He listed 48 people as shooting victims.

The job of the panel, headed by Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge, was to end the controversy over whether what happened on the night of October 20 qualifies as a “massacre.”

The army had claimed to have fired blank to disperse the demonstrators. But the judicial panel reported evidence that the soldiers “in fact fired live ammunition and blanks directly and in a targeted manner into the midst of the protesters at the Lekki toll gate, with the deliberate intention of assaulting, mutilating. and kill “. He also noted that soldiers turned back ambulances that arrived to help injured protesters.

The panel considered the military’s response to be unwarranted, claiming that “the chaos and violence witnessed in other parts of Lagos State did not happen at the Lekki toll gate, it did There was therefore no fear on the part of the government or the security agencies to seek to dispel this peaceful gathering, with soldiers carrying deadly weapons. “

When the panel met last year, a representative of the Nigerian military, Brigadier. General AI Taiwo insisted that the troops at the tollgate “strictly follow” the army’s rules of engagement for internal security. He said the military had used non-violent means to bring the situation under control.

But the panel concluded that since the deployment of the army was not warranted, whether the troops followed a rule of engagement was irrelevant. He also noted that General Taiwo’s testimony was “hearsay” since he was not present at the time of the incident. The general claimed to have monitored events “on the Internet”.

After a few appearances before the panel, the military stopped cooperating with its investigation.

Although the Nigerian government and several pro-government activists have argued that no massacres have taken place, some social media users, including Nigerian songwriter and musician Obianuju Catherine Udeh, who goes by DJ Switch, broadcast the demonstration live. The people, frightened and scarred, could be heard in the video shouting “they shoot” as they ran in different directions in search of shelter.

On the first anniversary of the protest last month, Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, asked for an apology of the trio of Amnesty International, CNN and DJ Switch “for misleading the world”.

“The army did not shoot protesters at the Lekki toll booth on October 20, 2020, and there was no massacre at the toll plaza,” Mohammed told reporters in a statement. press conference in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. “The only recorded massacre was on social media.”

The panel report, however, said several protesters were hit by bullets when the army started firing and when police returned hours later to disperse what was left of the rally.

“Evidence provided by forensic experts (Sentinel Forensics Ltd) engaged by the panel confirmed that several muzzle flashes consistent with the ammunition discharge were observed,” the report said.

“From all the evidence produced, it can be safely concluded that there was the use and unloading of live ammunition at the Lekki toll booth on October 20, 2020, resulting in injuries and deaths. “

In the aftermath of the protest, DJ Switch was attacked by government supporters, who accused her of spreading lies about the protest.

On Monday evening, after the panel report leaked, she wrote on Twitter: “I have shattered so many lives, I have tried to destroy mine. Only so that what you were desperately trying to hide is made public… by you! The truth does not need defense! #EndSARS

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Newsrust - US Top News: Nigeria's Lekki Toll Gate shooting was a massacre, panel says
Nigeria's Lekki Toll Gate shooting was a massacre, panel says
Newsrust - US Top News
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