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Lekki Shooting: Relatives of Murdered Victims scared to speak out Says Femi Falana

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Lekki Shooting - Femi Falana
Lekki Shooting – Femi Falana

Re-evaluating the whole scenario that played out during the Lekki shooting of civilians by the military, Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has said that family members of those affected by the shooting at Lekki toll gate have refused to speak about the incident “because of the environment under which we operate”.

People get murdered or missing for coming out to tell the truth especially when that truth portray or indicts the so called high and mighty in the society. This is one of the major reasons why impunity thrives in the Nigerian system and corruption overshadows genuineness and truthfulness especially within the federal government parastatals.

The senior lawyer, who said the military is “known for lies and deception,” insisted that there must be justice for the victims of Lekki shooting.

He spoke yesterday at a virtual #EndSARS meeting organised by the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.

Narrating how the Nigerian Army “covered up” the reported killing of 347 Shi’ites in Zaria, Kaduna State, in 2015, Falana warned that the Lekki incident must not be swept under the carpet.

Soldiers had reportedly opened fire on the Shi’ites during a procession at a time the convoy of Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, was passing.

Although the army claimed few Shi’ites were killed in the incident, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and a panel set up by the Kaduna state government said the casualties were more than 300.

Speaking at the meeting monitored by TheCable, Falana accused the army of lying about the incident in Lekki, saying nothing should have warranted soldiers’ presence at the protest venue.

“Nobody should believe the military, it has a history of lies, fraud and deception,” he said.

“Just in December 2015, the same chief of army staff claimed there was a traffic jam in Zaria and the big man wanted to move.

“And because of that traffic, he got soldiers from the first division in Kaduna to mow down hundreds of Shi’ites. And what was the explanation? That the Shi’ites wanted to assassinate the chief of army staff, and so his boys had to save him and in the process, they repelled these Shi’ites who had guns and about six or seven people died.

“But in a commission of enquiry set up by the Kaduna State government, we were told that indeed, 347 Nigerians were killed by the military; no autopsy, no postmortem, nothing whatsoever.

“Their bodies were taken away in the dead of the night and given a mass burial. And people will ask you, ‘if anybody lost his child in Lekki, why can’t they come up?’ Who has come up in the case of Zaria? Because you must understand the environment under which we operate.”

The senior lawyer also said some of those injured in the Lekki shooting “had to forcefully discharge themselves.”

According to him, the injured protesters were told in a hospital that they were going to be held liable for the riots in town, “and so, everybody had to move.”

If the allegations of Femi Falana (SAN) has some elements of truth then it is significantly worthwhile for human rights activist to investigate and speak up for these injustice done to these families and create a platform to militate against the occurrence of such ugly incidence of “Unknown Soldiers” as one voiced by the legendary musician Fela from reoccurring.

 

Gift Joseph Okpakorese

Staff Writer

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