Lagos EndSARS panel identifies 48 casualties of Lekki TollGate 'massacre'

Among the 48 casualties listed, 24 sustained gunshot injuries, while 15 others were assaulted by soldiers and police. The panel further confirmed 11 people dead and another four missing.
Lagos EndSARS panel identifies 48 casualties of Lekki TollGate 'massacre'
Lagos EndSARS panel

The Lagos Judicial Panel on EndSARS reaffirmed on Monday that several peaceful demonstrators were indeed killed during the ill-fated Lekki TollGate shooting that took place on 20 October, 2020.

The recent revelation is coming against the background of repeated denial and official narrative being peddled by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who swore that there was no evidence of dead bodies.

Findings released by the panel headed by Justice Okuwobi has shown that the massacre was carried out by both the military and the police.

This is just as the judicial panel questioned the deployment of soldiers to the toll gate as the demonstration was peaceful, unlike the pockets of violence in the other parts of the city.

The statement partly read, “The deployment of the army to Lekki Toll Gate on 20/10/2020, in the absence of any reported violence was totally unwarranted.”

The report listed 48 names as casualties of the Lekki incident of October 20, 2020.

Among the 48 casualties listed, 24 sustained gunshot injuries, while 15 others were assaulted by soldiers and police.

The panel further confirmed 11 people dead and another four missing.

While presenting the names of the dead casualties and the injured, the Justice Okuwobi panel reported that the response to its Summons was hugely positive, as over 80 per cent of those summoned turned up for the invitations to give evidence, which assisted the team greatly in unravelling the October 20 bloodshed.

Okuwobi also disclosed that many of the affected demonstrators on their own attended the Panel’s proceedings to also table their own evidence, with some gave accounts of what happened despite not having physical injuries.

As it turned out, virtually all witnesses were cross examined by counsel to parties with opposing versions of the incident.

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.

After the conclusion of evidence of all relevant parties, the Panel thus made the following key findings:

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.

After 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 bythe 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 Sanwo-Olu promised

1. 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

2. To send the report to the National Economic Council for implementation.

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