The judicial panel set up by the Lagos government to probe cases of police brutality — including the Lekki shooting — says protesters were killed at the Lekki toll gate in what could be described in the as a “massacre”.
The panel also says police officers attempted to cover up the shooting of protesters at the toll gate on October 20, 2020.
On the fateful day, in what appeared to be an attempt to disperse protesters, officers of the Nigerian Army stormed the Lekki toll gate and started shooting at peaceful protesters, some of who were waving flags and singing the national anthem.
Police officers were also said to have been present at the toll gate area as well.
In a report on its findings, which was submitted to the Lagos government on Monday, the panel said protesters were killed at the toll gate, adding that security operatives prevented ambulances from reaching injured demonstrators.
“At the Lekki toll gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenceless 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 report said.
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“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 officers shot at, assaulted and battered unarmed protesters, which led to injuries and deaths.”
Over the past year, the panel has heard petitions on police brutality and has also investigated the contentious Lekki toll gate incident.
The panel said the attack on protesters resulted in injuries and deaths.
According to the panel’s report, police officers tried to cover up their actions by picking up bullets.
“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 report reads.
The report also said, “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.”
The report continued, “It was alleged and corroborated that the soldiers had their vans parked at the Lekki toll gate and removed as many bodies and corpses of the fallen protesters which they took away with their vans.
“The police officers also tried to cover up their actions by picking up bullets.”
The panel said the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) refused to provide vital evidence that would have aided its investigation.
LCC was also accused of manipulating the CCTV footage presented to the panel during its sitting.
“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,” the report reads.
“It manipulated the incomplete CCTV Video footage of the Lekki tollgate on the night of the 20th of October 2020, which it tendered before the panel.”
According to the panel, the cleaning of the Lekki tollgate after the incident and failure to preserve the scene ahead of potential investigations proves there was a cover-up attempt.
The panel recommended the sanctioning of the officers of the army and police who participated in the “shooting, injuring and killing of unarmed protestors”.
The panel also recommended a public apology to #EndSARS protesters who were killed, injured, and traumatised by the incident.