Nigerian judicial panel condemns shooting as “a massacre” – .

Nigerian judicial panel condemns shooting as “a massacre” – .

The Lagos Court of Arbitration Judicial Commission of Inquiry and Restitution was tasked with investigating the notorious Lekki toll shooting in Lagos last year, when Nigerian security forces opened fire on young people demonstrating peacefully against alleged police violence.

Its explosive report – which took more than a year to produce – accuses Nigerian army officers of “shooting, wounding and killing unarmed, helpless and defenseless protesters, without provocation or justification, while they waved the Nigerian flag and sang the national anthem and the way of attacking and killing could in the context be described as a massacre. “

The panel also found that “the conduct of the Nigerian military was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances to provide medical assistance to victims in need. The army was also judged not to have adhered to its own rules of engagement ”.

The panel report repeatedly highlights and references previous CNN reports, which used time stamps, video data and geolocation last year to analyze hours of video filmed by protesters.
CNN’s investigation revealed that the Nigerian military fired live ammunition into the crowd at the Lekki tollgate, killing and injuring several people. Last year, several witnesses also told CNN that ambulances were prevented from entering the site to help injured protesters.

Despite an abundance of video evidence, the Nigerian government has long denied that protesters were shot dead. Last month, on the first anniversary of the shooting, Nigerian Information Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed called the incident a “phantom massacre” and continued to view CNN’s investigation as a bogus. news.

The government and military did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday’s judicial panel report, which quotes CNN dozens of times.

However, Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the Lagos state government will implement the panel’s recommendations, according to local media.

“This will help with proper restitution and compensation for all those who must have been harmed. I want to assure you that a white paper will be published. I will form a committee to review the document between two weeks and publish a white paper, ”Sanwo-Olu said, according to the International Center for Investigative Reporting.

What happened

Before the bloody events at the Lekki tollgate last year, protesters had participated in daily protests across Nigeria for nearly two weeks against numerous allegations of kidnapping, harassment and extortion by a known police unit under the name of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The October 20 shooting would ultimately crush Nigeria’s nascent youth protest movement known as #EndSARS.

The investigation group was initially set up in October 2020 by the Lagos State government to examine cases of alleged police violence – and the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad – and later tasked with investigating the toll incident.

The panel report further alleges cover-up attempts by the police, which it says cleaned up the aftermath of the Lekki toll booth shooting and failed to preserve the scene for investigators. “The police also tried to cover their actions by picking up bullets,” the report said.

He also accuses the Nigerian authorities of falsifying CCTV footage and removing the bodies of the dead from the scene.

The report recommends that all members of the Nigerian military, with the exception of a major general who have been deployed to the Lekki toll booth, be subject to “appropriate disciplinary action and be stripped of their status” , before being made redundant.

“They are not fit and fit to serve in any public or security service of the nation,” he said.

The report adds that “the dark days of military rule are over and more democratic principles and approaches are needed to gain both peace and public confidence.”

The reaction to the report led to a wave of emotions on the social media platform Twitter late Monday night in Nigeria. Many young people told CNN they felt justified by the results.

“Tears filled my eyes. The truth does not need to be defended, ”said DJ Switch, who broadcast some of the events of that night live and was then forced to flee the country.

Akin Olaoye, who was on the front lines of the protest that night, told CNN: “The findings of the forensic commission in its report defining the atrocities at the toll plaza as a massacre are a great victory. and lead us on a path to justice for many innocent victims, survivors and lost souls still lying in anonymous graves. ”

Serah Ibrahim, who participated in the #EndSARS protests and also testified during the panel’s investigation, told CNN that justice and accountability must now follow. “I hope all recommendations will be implemented. On the one hand, it’s admitting that it happened, on the other it’s responsibility, ”she said.

“Justice is totally incomplete without accountability,” Ibrahim added.


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