2020 Lekki toll gate capturing: Nigerian judicial panel condemns capturing as ‘a bloodbath’

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The Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution on the Lagos Court docket of Arbitration had been charged with investigating final 12 months’s infamous Lekki toll gate capturing in Lagos, when Nigerian safety forces opened fireplace on younger folks protesting peacefully towards alleged police brutality.

Its bombshell report — which took greater than a 12 months to supply — accuses Nigerian Military officers of getting “shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenseless protesters, with out provocation or justification, whereas they had been waving the Nigerian Flag and singing the nationwide anthem and the way of assault and killing might in context be described as a bloodbath.”

The panel additionally discovered “the conduct of the Nigerian Military was exacerbated by its refusal to permit ambulances render medical help to victims who required such help. The Military was additionally discovered to not have adhered to its personal Guidelines of Engagement.”

The panel’s report underscores and repeatedly references earlier reporting by CNN, which used time stamps, video knowledge, and geolocation final 12 months to investigate hours of video filmed by protesters.

'They pointed their guns at us and started shooting'

CNN’s investigation discovered the Nigerian military fired reside rounds into crowds at Lekki toll gate, killing and wounding a number of folks. A number of witnesses additionally instructed CNN final 12 months that ambulances had been prevented from getting into the location to assist wounded protesters.

Police officers arrive at the scene of protest commemorating the one-year anniversary of #EndSARS, a movement against police brutality, at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, on October 20, 2021.

Regardless of an abundance of video proof, the Nigerian authorities has lengthy denied that protesters had been shot. Final month, on the one-year anniversary of the capturing, Nigeria’s Minister of Data Alhaji Lai Mohammed described the incident as a “phantom bloodbath” and continued to dismiss CNN’s investigation as faux information.

The federal government and navy didn’t reply instantly to requests for touch upon the judicial panel’s Monday report, which cites CNN dozens of instances.

Nevertheless, Lagos Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has mentioned the Lagos state authorities would implement the panel’s suggestions, based on native media.

“This can assist in correct restitution and compensation for everybody who should have been wronged. I need to guarantee you, a white paper will probably be issued. I’m going to represent a committee to evaluate the doc between two weeks and produce out a white paper,” Sanwo-Olu mentioned, based on the Worldwide Centre for Investigative Reporting.
Round 70 victims of police brutality have been awarded a complete of 410 million naira (round $1 million) as compensation, the chairperson of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, was quoted in an announcement launched by Lagos State authorities Monday.

What occurred

Forward of the bloody occasions at Lekki toll gate final 12 months, demonstrators had been collaborating in day by day protests throughout Nigeria for almost two weeks over widespread claims of kidnapping, harassment and extortion by a police unit often known as the Particular Anti-Theft Squad (SARS).
The capturing on October 20 would finally quash Nigeria’s fledgling youth protest motion, often known as #EndSARS.

The investigating panel was initially arrange in October 2020 by the Lagos state authorities to look into circumstances of alleged police brutality — and the now-disbanded Particular Anti-Theft Squad — and later tasked with investigating the toll gate incident.

'He died in my arms.' Twelve months on, a mother's agonizing wait to find out why her son died at Lekki toll gate

The panel’s report moreover alleges cover-up makes an attempt by police, which it says cleaned up the aftermath of the capturing at Lekki toll gate and did not protect the scene for investigators. “The cops additionally tried to cowl up their actions by choosing up bullets,” the report says.

It additionally accuses Nigerian authorities of tampering with CCTV footage and eradicating the our bodies of the lifeless from the scene.

The report recommends that each one members of the Nigerian Military apart from one main normal that had been deployed to the Lekki toll gate face “applicable disciplinary motion and be stripped of their standing,” earlier than being dismissed.

“They aren’t match and correct to serve in any public or safety service of the nation,” it says.

It additionally recommends that the Nigerian military ought to be “discouraged” from intervening within the nation’s inside safety, including that “the darkish days of navy rule is over and extra democratic ideas and approaches are required to win each the peace and public belief.”

The federal government, it says, ought to do “all it could possibly to bridge the hole of mistrust with the youth,” and requires a monument to be erected on the Lekki Toll Gate with the names of the victims inscribed.

Response to the report led to an emotional outpouring on social media platform Twitter late on Monday evening in Nigeria. Many younger folks have instructed CNN they really feel vindicated by the findings.

“Tears crammed my eyes. The reality wants no protection,” mentioned DJ Change, who live-streamed a few of the occasions of that evening and was later pressured to flee the nation.

Akin Olaoye, who was on the frontline of the protest that evening, instructed CNN, “The findings of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry in its report defining the atrocities on the toll gate as a bloodbath, is a giant win and leads us on a pathway to acquiring justice for lots of the harmless victims, survivors and misplaced souls nonetheless mendacity in unmarked graves.”

Serah Ibrahim, who took half within the #EndSARS protests and likewise gave proof on the panel inquiry, instructed CNN justice and accountability now must comply with. “I hope all of the suggestions are carried out. On one half is admitting it occurred, on one other half is accountability,” she mentioned.

“Justice is completely incomplete with out accountability,” Ibrahim added.