Commission of Inquiry Finds Nigerian Army Guilty of Lekki ‘Massacre’ | Police News

A commission of inquiry has found that the Nigerian military was guilty of slaughtering and killing unarmed citizens protesting against police brutality in the commercial capital of Lagos in October last year.

In its report, which leaked on Monday, just hours after it was submitted to the Lagos State government, the panel found that there were 48 victims, including 11 people killed and four people missing, over the course of of what he described as a “massacre”.

The military failed to abide by its own rules of engagement and its conduct “was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances to provide medical assistance to victims in need,” according to the report.

Nigerian authorities did not immediately comment.

For years, young Nigerians have cried out against the repeated and discriminatory acts of torture, mutilation, extortion and even killings carried out by officers of a rogue police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). These complaints exploded in two weeks of peaceful #EndSARS protests across most of southern and central Nigeria.

On the evening of October 20, 2020, a large number of peaceful young people were at a toll plaza in Lekki, an upscale neighborhood of Lagos, continuing the protests despite a curfew.

“At the Lekki toll booth, Nigerian army officers shot, wounded and killed unarmed, helpless and defenseless protesters without provocation or justification as they waved the Nigerian flag and sang the national anthem. be described as a massacre, ”the report said.

‘Open secret’

Earlier today, men believed to be state government officials tampered with surveillance equipment at toll plazas, but the ongoing storyline was captured by live feeds on social media platforms .

The next morning, the committee said “there was a lot of evidence in front of the panel” that three Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) trucks with brushes underneath were brought on. places “to clean up places of blood stains and other evidence.” He also said the police “tried to cover up their actions by picking up bullets.”

“The result of the investigation … essentially confirmed open secrecy that the sinister attacks on young Nigerians were orchestrated by state actors, premeditated and that there was a coordinated attempt to erase the memory of the victims.” said Adewunmi Emoruwa, senior strategist at Gatefield, an Abuja-based political analysis and media firm whose accounts have been frozen by authorities for giving journalists small grants to report on the brutality policewoman last year.

“Acknowledging the massacre is the first step, but the biggest obstacle will be to hold the perpetrators to account, for they have a hold over the institutions established to serve this purpose. “

There were other violent episodes attributed to security forces elsewhere in Lagos that day, including one in the densely populated low-income neighborhood of Mushin where police reportedly killed more than 10 people and left dozens injured.

While the commission, officially known as the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution, was tasked by the state government to investigate extrajudicial violence a day before the Lekki shooting, the governor “expanded the Panel’s mandate ”to cover the incident. .

The investigation was marred by a number of controversies from the start.

Rinu Oduala, named as one of her young representatives after being heavily involved in the protests, resigned, saying she would “not be part of a cover-up”.

Meanwhile, Sanusi Ovada Bello, the lieutenant colonel who allegedly led the troops from the Bonny camp barracks just 5 km (3.1 miles) from the toll gates, received two summons but did not appear in court. the panel. Other military officials also repeatedly ignored the panel’s convocation for months, although some of them filed affidavits, as the report acknowledges.

The government has categorically denied that the army fired at the protesters, despite testimonies and findings from reports and rights groups such as Amnesty International. Information Minister Lai Mohammed, who called the incident a “phantom massacre”, threatened to sanction CNN journalists for investigating the case.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who blamed the shooting on “forces beyond his control”, previously said there were only two deaths in the incident.

The panel also cited a lack of time to complete its investigation, saying it “was unable to determine all the petitions arising from the Lekki toll incident” and recommended that they be heard. by a human rights tribunal.

Local media reported that Sanwo-Olu, who appointed a four-person committee headed by the state attorney general to review the findings and issue a white paper on the government’s position, has pledged to help “a restitution and appropriate compensation for all those who must have been harmed ”.

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