The Lagos judicial panel on police brutality says officers of the Nigerian army shot at and killed protesters at Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.
Over the past year, the panel has heard petitions on police brutality and has also investigated the Lekki tollgate incident.
Soldiers had stormed the tollgate where protesters had gathered and fired shots, in what appeared to be an attempt to disperse the demonstrators.
In its report submitted to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos state governor, on Monday, the panel presented five key findings.
Finding 1: Soldiers killed defenseless protesters, refused medical intervention for them
That 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.
Finding 2: Police shot at protesters, picked up bullets to cover-up
The panel found that the Nigerian Police Force 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.
Finding 3: LCC tampered with and withheld CCTV footage
The panel found that LCC 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. 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.
Finding 4: Lagos state governor invited army to deploy soldiers
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.
Finding 5: There was an attempt to cover up the incident
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.
In its recommendations, the panel called for holistic police reforms, sanctioning of the officers of the army and police who participated in the “shooting, injuring and killing of unarmed protestors”.
The panel also recommended a public apology to #EndSARS protesters who were killed, injured, and traumatised by the incident.
Members of the panel also called for the “memorialisation of the Lekki tollgate and the 20th of October”.