HUMAN rights body Amnesty International has published its report on the October 20 shootings at the Lekki Toll Gate confirming that Nigerian Army troops fired on unarmed protesters and has called on the authorities to stop trying to cover-up the incident.
Last Tuesday, Nigerian Army troops opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, killing several of them. This cold blooded murder sparked a national outrage across the country and people have since taken to the streets, setting fire to public buildings and looting warehouses, shops and the homes of the wealthy.
However, since the incident, the Nigerian Army has been desperately trying to absolve itself of the shooting, claiming its soldiers did not kill anyone. Debunking this, Amnesty International said its crisis response experts investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirmed that security forces were present at the Lekki Toll Gate when the shootings occurred.
This evidence was published on the group’s website, Amnesty International Home today and Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) activist Raphael Adebayo, backed up these claims. In addition, the NBA further advised government to stop denying the incident and admit its error.
Eyewitnesses said that eight dead bodies of protesters were taken away by the soldiers of 81 Division of the Nigerian Army. The incident which was also live-streamed by a popular disc jockey showed the soldiers firing at the activists.
Lagos State’s Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, in his first reaction to the shootings blamed the incident on forces beyond his control. Later in an interview with Arise Television, the governor denied inviting soldiers to quell the protests.
In a statement titled Authorities must stop attempts to cover up Lekki toll gate massacre – new investigative timeline, Amnesty International provided photographs and footage confirming that the military vehicles conveying the troops left their base, Bonny Camp at 6.29 pm for the tollgate. It explained that the military vehicles were filmed leaving Bonny Camp on videos shared on social media.
Amnesty International further disclosed that footage also showed four vehicles with flashing lights in a convoy and they appeared to be vehicles used by the Nigerian military and police. It added that the same vehicles headed east along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue and passed several international embassies and consulates, including the Japanese Embassy and the Australian High Commission.
Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria country director, said what happened at the Lekki tollgate had all the traits of the authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings. She demanded identity of the officials who gave orders for use of the lethal force on the peaceful protesters, wondering why the security cameras at the plaza were dismantled.
Ms Ojigho added: “One week on, the Nigerian authorities still have many questions to answer. Who ordered the use of lethal force on peaceful protesters? Why were the CCTV cameras on the scene dismantled in advance and who ordered electricity being turned off minutes before the military opened fire on protesters?
“The initial denial of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting was followed by the shameful denial of the loss of lives as a result of the military’s attack against the protests. Many people are still missing since the day of the incident and credible evidence shows that the military prevented ambulances from reaching the severely injured in the aftermath.”
AI further called on the authorities to bring to justice those behind the shooting and protect those who were exercising their right to freedom of assembly. A leading member of the #EndSARS movement, Raphael Adebayo, said Nigerians would continue to demand accountability for the attack on peaceful protesters by paid thugs and members of the security forces.