Nigeria: Lagos #EndSARS Panel - Majority of Lekki Toll Gate Victims Had Fractures, Machete Wounds, Minor Injuries - Official

Young people assemble at the Lekki Toll gate in Lagos Nigeria.

"Nobody at the hospitals said they were shot at."

The Lagos State Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, Tuesday told the Judicial Panel of Inquiries on Police Brutality that injuries recorded in the aftermath of the Lekki shooting were predominantly fractures, machete wounds, and minor cuts.

In his testimony, he gave oral, visual, and documentary pieces of evidence in respect to the Lekki shooting incident.

"These are some of the pictures of the hospitals that we visited," he said, pointing at a projector showing visuals of when the governor visited injured #EndSARS protesters at the hospitals.

"In this Reddington hospital, these individuals were injured in that axis, some of them alluded to being injured in a stampede of running, falling over each other.

"Predominantly, there were about 13 people injured in Reddington Hospital, Admiralty Way. The General Hospital also had 12 patients. The doctors in charge said there was one of those patients that were being moved to LASUTH, who had more severe injuries from machetes' wounds.

"At the time we were there, most of the injuries were all in the nature of cuts, bruises from machetes' wounds, and stampede. Nobody at the hospitals said they were shot at."

Earlier, the lawyer representing the #EndSARS protesters, Adeshina Ogunlana, argued that it is the responsibility of the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to come forward and testify.

But the panel chairperson, Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge, said the governor is not "compellable" because he has been conferred immunity by the Constitution under section 308.

In his testimony, Mr Muri-Okunola noted that there has been controversy about the actual number of alleged deaths at the Lekki Toll incident. He added that since October 22, 2020, many of the people reported to have been killed, including Nollywood actress, Eniola Badmus, refuted their rumoured deaths.

He listed the names of those rumoured to have been killed to include Stephen Becky, Iraby of Oto-Auch and Joshua Ogbodo.

Others are "Anthony Chechukwu alleged to have been shot by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate has been confirmed to have died in a motorcycle accident and Lucia Adu who was claimed to have died at the Lekki Toll Gate was confirmed to have been killed in an accident involving a stationary truck on 20th October 2020."

Chronology

Mr Muri-Okunola, who gave a chronological order of events from 8 October to 20 October 2021, said the "protesters congregated in two major hotspots" in the state, Alausa Government House and the Lekki Toll Gate.

On October 9, 2020, the state's Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, alongside other officials, spoke to the protesters who converged on the Lagos Government House in Alausa, on their rights to demonstrate peacefully and shared foods and drinks with the protesters, he said.

He noted that on 13 October, Mr Sanwo-Olu again visited the protesters and went "straight to the airport" to present their five-point demands to President Muhammadu Buhari and the then Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu and a " statement was released by the spokesman of the President, Femi Adesina that the Nigerian Government had agreed to the five-point demand of the EndSARS protesters."

He said some days later, some "guerilla protesters" hijacked the "noble" demonstration which prompted Mr Sanwo-Olu to announce a curfew.

"Violence escalated throughout the city of Lagos, with hoodlums infiltrating and... the peaceful protest of this decentralized movement of #Endsars," he said.

"Across the city, young men were manning makeshift checkpoints and barricading major roads and stopping cars on routes across the city. They were not carrying the placards and signs that had characterised earlier peaceful protests. The lives of both protesters and the rest of the citizens alike were put in danger.

"Around 10.00 a.m. on the 20 of October 2020, the only police station was set on fire by suspected hoodlums who had hijacked the EndSARS protest in a reprisal attack fuelled by the alleged shooting of one of them by a policeman, hoodlums who had carted away ammunition looted from various police stations around the city unleashed mayhem around the city while destroying properties, mugging innocent citizens and threatening the lives of everyone that they came in contact with."

The Head of Service said Mr Sanwo-olu confirmed two deaths, one of which was said to have died as a result of blunt force trauma at Reddington hospital.

'Shots were fired'

During cross-examination, Mr Muri-Okunola confirmed that he heard that military men from Bonny Camp were at the Lekki toll gate and based on video evidence they were armed and "shots were fired."

However, he said the police and the army general in the state said that their officers were not deployed to the Lekki tollgate on 20 October 2020.

There are still controversies over the role of the army in the shooting at the toll gate. After armed soldiers opened fire at the protesters, the army, while appearing before the panel in November last year, said their men only fired live ammunitions and that no one was killed. The position contradicted its earlier claim that soldiers had nothing to do with the shooting at the toll gate.

The army has since stopped appearing before the panel.

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