The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Inquiry which investigated the Lekki Toll Gate shooting of #EndSARS protesters on October 20, 2020, has said the incident can be classified as a massacre carried out by the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force.
The panel, led by its Chairperson, Justice Doris Okuwobi (retd.), stated this in its report which was submitted to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, on Monday.
According to the panel, 48 protesters were either shot dead, injured with bullet wounds or assaulted by soldiers.
The panel stated that nine persons were killed. Those killed, according to the report, were Victor Sunday Ibanga, Abuta Solomon, Jide, Olalekan Abideen Ashafa, Olamilekan Ajasa, Kolade Salami, Folorunsho Olabisi, Kenechukwu Ugoh and Nathaniel Solomon.
It also stated that four persons are still missing since October 2020 and are presumed dead. It mentioned the names of the persons as Abiodun Adesanya, Ifeanyi Nicholas Eji, Tola and Wisdom.
The panel added that 20 sustained gunshot injuries, while 13 others were assaulted by the military.
The report partly read: “The atrocious maiming and killing of unarmed, helpless and unresisting protesters, while sitting on the floor and waving their Nigerian flags, while singing the National Anthem can be equated to a massacre in context.
“It was alleged and corroborated that the soldiers had their vans parked at the Lekki tollgate and removed as many bodies and corpses of the fallen protesters, which they took away with their vans.”
“The panel finds corroboration of the case of gunshot wounds in the testimony of Dr Aromolate Ayobami of the Grandville Trauma Centre, where several victims of gunshot wounds were treated comprehensively and discharged.
“General Taiwo was shown video clip 202010.wa0313 of Hq81D file where protesters were shouting that the Army had shot and killed. He admitted seeing someone lying on the ground with what looked like blood, but stated that the video was fake when he did not produce his own original video on behalf of the Army.
“The testimony and report of Prof John Obafunwa, a forensic pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, showed that three corpses were deposited at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba Hospital, all from the Lekki Tollgate 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 Prof Obafunwa would not obliterate the fact that some of them could have come from the Lekki Tollgate 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 Prof Obafunwa.”
“Panel also finds that the shooting of the protesters by the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020 was unwarranted, excessive, provocative and unjustifiable in the circumstances of the state of the protests, which were peaceful and orderly.”
The panel in its report also said the Nigerian Army was invited to the Lekki Toll Gate following a request by Governor Sanwo-Olu, and that its soldiers shot at the protesters, which led to injuries and deaths.
It also noted the Nigeria Police Force deployed its officers to the toll gate on the night of October 20, 2020, adding that officers of the law enforcement agency attempted to cover up its act by picking up bullets at the scene.
It also stated that the Leki Concession Company, the company responsible for managing the Lekki Toll Gate, manipulated camera evidence.
The report read: “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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
The report recommended the “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”.
It also, among others, recommended that a public apology #EndSARS protesters who were killed, injured and traumatized by the Incident of the 20th of October 2020, and the memorialization of the Lekki Toll Gate and the 20th of October going forward.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, while receiving the report on Monday, announced the setting-up of a four-man committee to raise a White Paper on the report.
The committee will be headed by the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), with the Commissioner for Youths and Social Development, Mr Segun Dawodu; the Special Adviser, Works and Infrastructure, Mrs Aramide Adeyoye; and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Mrs Tolani Oshodi, as members.