LAGOS STATE ENDSARS JUDICIAL PANEL REVEAL THERE WAS A MASSACRE AT THE LEKKI TOLLGATE
In a report released on Monday November 15, the Lagos State Judicial Panel has revealed that not less than 11 persons were killed during a peaceful protest at the Lekki Tollgate.
Recall that the panel was inaugurated on October 19, 2020, by Governor Sanwo-Olu to investigate alleged cases of brutality and human rights violations.
The report, which described the October 20, 2020, shootings a 'massacre' also revealed that four persons were declared missing but presumed dead, taking the death toll to 15.
It also stated that there were a total of 48 casualties from the Lekki incident which hit global headlines last year. Of the 48 casualties, 25 sustained gunshot wounds while 15 others were extrajudicially harassed.
The panel, comprising of a retired Judge of the Lagos State High Court, Justice Doris Okuwobi as Chairperson, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Taiwo Lakanu, Patience Patrick-Udoh (Representative Civil Society), ‘Segun Awosanya and Oluwatoyin Odusanya, Lucas Koyejo, Majekodunmi Oluwaseun and Mr. Babajide Boye, who acted as secretary presented the report to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos House, Ikeja.
According to the panel, there was evidence of cover-up by the Army when they removed the corpses of the fallen protesters with their vans.
The Panel stated that the Army should never have been deployed in the first place since the protest was largely peaceful. “in the light of all the above that issue of whether or not the Army kept to any particular rules of engagement is immaterial since the invitation of the Army to Lagos state and the deployment of the Army to Lekki Toll Gate in the first place was totally unwarranted. The Army should on no account be deployed against unarmed.”
It also found out that most of the 96 corpses for which autopsies were conducted by the State’s chief pathologist, Obafunwa, remained unidentified but were labelled #Endsars, lending credence to the belief that the shooting by security agencies resulted in mass deaths.
Furthermore, it declared that all officers (excluding Maj. Gen. Omata) and men of the Nigerian Army that were deployed to the Lekki tollgate on the date should be made to face appropriate disciplinary action, stripped of their status, and dismissed as they are not fit and proper to serve in any public or security service of the nation.
The panel stated that all those arrested in the course of the protest should be granted bail, prosecuted for any offence that may be alleged against them or where no prima facie evidence of culpability is disclosed upon due investigation, should be released forthwith.
It also recommended that the Nigeria Army should be discouraged from intervening in internal security of the country forthwith.
The Governor said a ‘formal committee,’ which would be headed by the Attorney-General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, would look into the reports within two weeks and bring forward the white paper that would be considered at the Lagos state executive council and presented as the white paper coming from the panel of inquiry.
Governor Sanwo-Olu said“I imagine that they would immediately read through and bring forward every little thing that has been recommended in this report,” he said.
Other members of the panel include the commissioner for youth and social development; Olusegun Dawodu, special adviser on works; Aramide Adeyoye, and the permanent secretary of the cabinet office.
The Governor noted that the panel had no external influence whatsoever.
He said; “It is instructive for us to put it out on record that the panel has been totally independent.
“The panel has had its full request and has been given full authority to summon to inquire, to ask, to request anybody or anything so wish that would help them come to conclusion.
“As the governor, I have not seen any of the panel members including the chairperson who I saw last on October 19.’’
The Governor, who commended the conduct and proceedings of the panel, added that the submission of the reports would commence a healing process for those who have suffered in the hands of the police.