Lagos — The 81 Division of the Nigerian Army has finally broken its silence over the shooting at Lekki tollgate, Lagos, saying that soldiers were deployed at the instance of the state government.
Daily Trust had reported that scores of #EndSARS protesters were allegedly shot penultimate Wednesday by soldiers deployed to disperse young Nigerians who trouped out to protest extortion and brutality by Policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Authority in charge of 81, while refuting the state government's claims, said soldiers were deployed at the instance of the Lagos State Government to help in the enforcement of the 24 hour curfew imposed on the state last week Wednesday.
A statement issued by 81 Division of the Nigerian Army and signed by it's Public Relations Officer, Major Osoba Olaniyi, said the allegations bordering on massacre was untrue and unfounded.
Titled 'Alleged Massacre of Protesters at Lekki Toll Plaza', the release read thus, "The attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilian protesters were massacred by soldiers at Lekki Toll Plaza.
"This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country. At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian.
"From the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos were involved.
"However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government (LASG) after a 24-hour curfew was imposed.
"This was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.
"The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.
"The intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for Internal Security operations and all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Internal Security operations.
"Finally, Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army reiterates Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities did not
shoot at any civilian as there are glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact.
"This allegation is the hand work of mischief makers who will stop at nothing to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Army. The general public is hereby enjoined to discountenance this allegation as there is no iota of truth therein," he added.