Lekki Toll Gate Shooting was a massacre
- No fewer than nine #EndSARS protesters were killed at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.
- The report listed 48 names as those who were 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.
On October 20, 2020, the Nigerian Army shot and murdered unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, according to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for victims of SARS-related abuses and other concerns.
The Panel’s findings were made public on Monday in a report obtained by Ejes Gist News.
The Nigerian Army was “invited for intervention in the State and was deployed to Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th of October 2020,” according to the Panel.
“At the Lekki Toll Gate, Nigerian Army officers 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 be described as a massacre in context.”
“The Panel also found that the Nigerian Army’s actions were exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances to provide medical assistance to victims who needed it.”
“It was also discovered that the Army did not follow its own Rules of Engagement.”
The Panel also “found that on the night of October 20, 2020, the Nigerian Police Force deployed its officers to the Lekki Toll Gate, and between that night and the morning of October 21, 2020, its officers shot at, assaulted, and battered unarmed protesters, resulting in injuries and deaths.”
“By picking up bullets, the police officers attempted to hide their actions.”
Furthermore, the operators of the toll gate, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), were found to have “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.”
“On the night of the 20th of October 2020, it manipulated the incomplete CCTV Video footage of the Lekki Toll Gate, which it tendered before the Panel.”
“The Nigerian Army was invited to Lagos State by the Lagos State Government through the Governor before the Nigerian Army hierarchy deployed its soldiers to the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of October 20th,” the Panel noted.
“The Panel discovered that the cleaning of the Lekki Toll Gate and the failure to preserve the scene ahead of potential investigations were attempts to cover up the Incident of the 20th of October.”
On October 20, the Federal Government disputed that unarmed protestors were slain at the toll gate.
Mr. Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, described the incident as a “massacre without bodies.”
In addition, the Nigerian Army denied any wrongdoing.
However, the report listed 48 names as those who were 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 also noted that 96 other corpses were presented by a Forensic Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Professor John Obafunwa.
According to the 309-page report, the protesters were killed by suspected policemen and soldiers.
Part of the report read, ” The evidence before the panel shows that after the Nigerian Army left, Nigeria Police Force, followed up with the killing of the protesters, shooting directly at fleeing
protesters into the shanties and the Lagoon at the Lekki Phase 1 Foreshore, close to the Lekki Toll Gate, floating corpse and one shot close to Serah Ibrahim.
“Several unidentified bodies were removed by security agencies and LASEHMU (Lagos State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit) and deposited at various hospital mortuaries in Lagos.
“Three trucks with brushes underneath were brought to the Lekki Toll Gate in the morning of October 21st October, 2020 to clean up the scene of bloodstains and other evidence.
“The testimony and report of Professor John Obafunwa, a forensic pathologist of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, showed that three corpses were deposited at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba Hospital, all from the Lekki Toll Gate 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 Professor Obafunwa would not obliterate the fact that some of them could have come from the Lekki Toll Gate 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 Professor Obafunwa.”
The panel was inaugurated on October 19, 2020, to look into complaints of citizens against human rights abuses by the police. But following the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, the Terms of Reference of the panel were expanded to cover that incident.
The panel sat for over one year, listening to testimonies of petitioners, witnesses, experts, and lawyers.
The panel treated 235 petitions and awarded N410 million as compensation to 70 victims.