Home Lagos ENDSARS: Governor Sanwo-Olu ordered the Army to Lekki Tollgate – Panel

ENDSARS: Governor Sanwo-Olu ordered the Army to Lekki Tollgate – Panel

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The Lagos State Judicial Panel on Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Related Abuses and other matters and October 20, 2020, Lekki Tollgate Shootings has released the names of the victim from the End SARS protest last year and admits that there was a massacre.

The panel revealed that the protest was “very peaceful on all the days, including the 20th of October” and that it was not hijacked by hoodlums.

“In trying to justify the deployment of the army, its principal witness before the panel, Brigadier-General Taiwo, stated that once a protest goes past 2-3 days, it will be hijacked by hoodlums. The panel finds that this proposition was not substantiated. The EndSARS protest at Lekki Tollgate, in particular, was peaceful and orderly and was not hijacked by hoodlums,” the report reads.

“The Panel finds that the mayhem and violence recorded in other parts of Lagos State did not happen at the Lekki Tollgate, so there was no need for any apprehension on the part of the government or the security agencies to seek to dispel that peaceful assembly, with soldiers bearing lethal weapons.”

“The deployment of the Army to Lekki Tollgate on 20/10/2020, in the absence of any reported violence, was totally unwarranted.”

The panel in its key findings established that peaceful protesters were shot at by the Nigerian military: “The Nigerian Army was invited for intervention in the State and was deployed to Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th of October 2020.

“At the Lekki Toll Gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenseless 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 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 Nigeria Police Force was also found wanting as the report stated that it “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 police officers also tried to cover up their actions by picking up bullets.”

Lekki Concession Company Ltd (LCC) was 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.”

The LCC was also accused of manipulating the video footage of the event; “It manipulated the incomplete CCTV Video footage of the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of the 20th of October 2020, which it tendered before the Panel.”

The panel also answered the infamous question of ‘who ordered the Lekki shooting?’ When it revealed in the report that the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu invited the Nigerian army and that the crime scene was tampered with to cover up the Lekki massacre.

“The Panel found that there was an invitation of the Nigerian Army to Lagos State made by the Lagos State Government through the Governor before the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army deployed its soldiers to the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of the 20th of October. 5.

“The Panel found that there was an attempt to cover up the Incident of the 20th of October by the cleaning of the Lekki Toll Gate and the failure to preserve the scene ahead of potential investigations.”

The panel also revealed that both live and blank bullets were shot at protesters that night: “From the evidence of General Taiwo on pages 6, 7, 21, 22, the Panel finds that both blank and live bullets were fired by the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.”

In the 309-page report, the panel gave 32 compendium of recommendations, which includes; that the Police be adequately funded, effectively trained, given the right equipment and acquire a more ‘harmonized communication.’

“Panel recommends reorientation and training of police and security personnel or handling of crime scenes.

“Panel Recommends Training and retraining of all Security officials – including Civil defense, Police and the Army on rules of engagement and management of protest.”

It seeks that erring officials be punished; “The Panel recommends disciplinary actions to the following officers (Lt. Col S.O. Bello and Major General Godwin Umelo), who refused to honor the summons of the panel in order to frustrate the investigation.

“All officers (excluding Major General Omata) and men of the Nigerian Army that were deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020 should be made to face appropriate disciplinary action, stripped of their status, and dismissed as they are not fit and proper to serve in any public or security service of the nation.

“The DPO of Maroko Police Station along with policemen deployed from Maroko Police Station on the 20th and 21st of October 2020 should be prosecuted for arbitrary and indiscriminate shooting and killing of protesters.”

That all those who were arrested be released while also discouraging the involvement of the Nigerian Army in civil security.

“The Panel recommends that all those arrested in the course of the protest should be granted bail, prosecuted for any offence that may be alleged against them or where no prima facie evidence of culpability is disclosed upon due investigation, they should be released forthwith.

“The panel recommends that the Nigeria Army be discouraged in intervening in internal security.”

In acknowledging the power of social media in the spread of the event, the panel warns against its use to spread false information while lauding the efforts of some hospitals in the role they played in taking care of victims and urged the Lagos State government to fulfil its pledge of footing the hospital bills.

“The Panel having found that the use of social media played significant roles in escalating the crises and appeals for restraint in spreading unverified pieces of information to the general public.

“Panel commends Reddington Hospital, Vedic Life Healthcare, Grandville Trauma Centre, Victoria Island Consultancy, General Hospital Marina, and medical Services Hospitals, LASUTH, Doreen Hospital, Saint Nicholas Hospital Lagos Island, Avon Medical Practice Clinic, Britannia Hospital Lekki, First City Diagnosis Limited, Lekki, Budo Specialist Hospital Lekki, Saint Edward Specialist Hospital and Cardiac Centre Lekki, Lagos Executive Cardiovascular Clinic Lekki, Olive Multi-Specialist Hospital Lekki, Preston Hospital Lekki, Lagoon Hospital Ikoyi and all the medical doctors and personnel that attended to the victims of gunshot wounds from the Lekki Toll Gate and treated all of them free of charge. Panel recommends them for special awards by the Lagos State and Federal Governments.

“The Panel recommends that the commitment made to the hospitals by the Lagos State Government through the Governor and the Commissioner for Health for the payment of the hospital bills of the EndSARS protesters should be fulfilled.”

They implored the government to be more proactive in its grievance address scheme, engage the youth more often and increase its publicity on curfew arrangements.

“Panel recommends that Grievance Address mechanism should be improved upon to engender speedy attention and action.

“Government should engage regularly with youths and be proactive and responsive when tense situations arise.

“Panel recommends that Curfew regulations should be widely publicized.”

In terms of handling corpses, they suggested that autopsy be done within one month of incidence and guidelines must be followed. In lieu, health officials must be adequately trained.

“Panel recommends that Coroner inquests and autopsies should be done in cases of suspicious death within a maximum of one month of occurrence of the incident.

“Panel recommends that there should be guidelines & standard procedures for mortuaries on information to be requested and documentation done in cases of bodies brought to them

“Panel recommends Training of health officials particularly LASEHMU.

While insisting that pieces of evidence gotten from the crime scene be well preserved, the panel recommended that the Lekki Tollgate be renamed ‘ENDSARS TollGate’ and that moving forward, October 20 of each year be a day of remembrance of those who died during the protest.

“The situation of the integrity of the scene of incident must be preserved and items of physical evidence should not be removed between the time-lapse from the incident and scene examination in any other situation.

“The Panel recommends that the Lekki Toll Plaza be made a memorial site for ENDSARS Protest: By renaming to “ENDSARS TOLLGATE”

“The panel recommends that October 20th of every year, the day is made a “Toll Free Day” at the Lekki Toll Gate as long as the tollgate exists 21. That Oct 20th of every year be made EndSARS day Nationally for the remembrance of our falling youth.”

The judiciary panel also asked that the federal government apologise to the youth, while the state government do all it can to reconcile itself with the youth and build a monument with the names of all the victims on it.

“That for the purpose of restitution, healing and reconciliation, the Federal Government needs to publicly apologize to the youth for abruptly undermining the protest with their state actors.

“The Government should do all it can to bridge the gap of distrust with the Youth.

“A monument memorializing the lives lost and those injured at the Lekki Toll Gate with the names inscribed on the Monument.

“Recommends the establishment of a standing committee to bridge the gap between the society and the police via information gathering, community engagement, youth sensitization, prompt intervention on issues that require intelligence-led policing and community policing principles for the review and action of the State Commissioner of Police. (Action: NEC, Timeline: 18 Months).”

They also recommended that the Nigerian army’s process of discipline be transparent while scaling up the NPF complaint unit.

“It is recommended that the scrutiny of all disciplinary processes of the Nigerian Army and the police be made transparent and outcomes made public periodically.

“The dark days of military rule is over and more democratic principles and approaches are required to win both the peace and public trust. (Action: NEC, Timeline: 6 Months)

“The Panel recommends that the Complaint Response Unit of the Police at the FHQ must be reinforced to scale up its national responsibilities in prompt engagement and treating public complaint against erring officers across the country to avoid conflagration.

“It is recommended that the unit, given its influence and prompt engagement will be more effective reporting directly to the IGP. (Action: NEC, Timeline: 2 Months).

“It is recommended that any data that may have been generated over the years on the impunity of the Police across Nigeria be studied and deployed as early warning signs (EWS) mechanism. (Action: NEC, Timeline: 3 Months).”

The report also stated that victims of the incident should be compensated and a human rights centre be set up by the state government.

“It is recommended that compensation to the victims in cases emanating from the Lekki Incident of 20th October 2020 be facilitated and promptly disbursed to ensure Justice is served and seen to be served for accelerated healing to win the peace and build public trust. (Action: NEC, Timeline: 1 Month).

“Panel recommends a special trust fund for compensation of Victims of the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of October 20, 2020 and other established and proven human rights abuses.

“In view of the volume of complaints against the Nigeria Police received by the Panel, it is recommended that the Lagos State Assembly should set up a standing Human Rights Committee or Tribunal made up of representatives of the Nigeria Police, Ministry of Justice, National Human Rights Commission, Office of the Public Defender, Legal Aid Council, CSOs and other relevant stakeholders with mandate to receive and make determinations in respect of complaints made against the Nigerian Police and other security agencies.

“Panel recommends that all petitions filed before the panel but that could not be heard due to time constraints should be channeled through the Ministry of Justice to the Standing Human Rights Committee or Tribunal.”

The nine-man panel who were sworn in on the 19th October, 2020, include; The Honourable Justice Doris Okuwobi, a Retired Judge of the Lagos State High Court as Chairperson of the Panel, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN (Representative of the Civil Society), Rtd. D.I.G. Frederick Taiwo Lakanu, Patience Patrick Udoh (Representative Civil Society), Mr. ‘Segun Awosanya (Human Rights Activist), Mrs. Oluwatoyin Odusanya (Director, Citizens’ Rights), Mr. Lucas Koyejo, Esq. (National Human Rights Commission), Majekodunmi, Temitope Oluwaseun (Youth Representative Nominated by the Youth), and Mr. Babajide Boye (Secretary).

The panel submitted its report to the governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos on Monday.

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