Human Rights Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana has said compelling evidence does not support claims of the Nigerian Army that they were not involved in the shooting of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday.
The hierarchy of the country’s army has denied deploying soldiers to attack #EndSARS protesters who assembled at the toll plaza in Lagos State.
There were multiple reports gunshots fired at peaceful protesters last night at the toll gate, but the Nigerian Army through its official Twitter handle posted series of screenshots of such reports and tagged them “FAKE NEWS”.
The army is however is yet to release a comprehensive press statement distancing the institution from the shots fired at demonstrators in Lekki.
“I do not want to believe that that denial can come from the military authorities, because the evidence on ground does not support a denial,” Falana said when he appeared on ARISE News.
“Again this is where the duty of the government comes in, it is not enough to deny serious violation of the rights of citizens including opening fire on them and killing them.
“Assuming, without conceding that the barbaric invasion of the right to life of those young men and women was carried out by hoodlums, what has the government done? The duty of the government is to prevent killings and bring to book those who have carried out such exercise,” the human rights lawyer stated.
According to Falana, this will not be the first time the country’s army is denying incidences of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.
“In 2014, hundreds of Shiites were killed in Zaria and the army came out to say, our chief of army staff, the same chief of army staff, General Yusuf Buratai was going to be attacked and so (they) repelled those who wanted to kill him and about five or seven people died.
“But the government of Kaduna state set up an inquiry and at the commission of inquiry, hospital officials came to say 347 dead bodies were dumped in our hospitals and they were taken from the hospital and given a mass burial in an unmarked grave.
“Up till now, the panel recommended that those who carried out the gruesome massacre be fished out and prosecuted, but that has not been done and I can reel out other cases of extrajudicial killings,” he said.
He however appealed to young men and women who have taken to the streets to protest “not to be provoked because of the unfortunate and tragic incident of Tuesday night but should allow the human rights community, the Nigeria Bar Association, the pan-African lawyers association, and others that have indicated their wish to pursue this matter to a logical conclusion.”
By Abel Ejikeme