A judicial panel set up by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to probe allegations of Police brutality in Lagos State has submitted its findings on Monday 15th November 2021.
One of the reports submitted was on claims of police brutality, while the other was on the shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State during the EndSARS protests of October 2020.
After the protests of 20th October 2020, the Nigerian army denied shooting live rounds at protesters, telling the judicial panel that only blanks were used.
The protest had started as an online campaign to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit accused of extortion, torture, and extrajudicial killings. But as time went by, the protests grew into a wider contestation against bad governance, and subsequently moved from being online alone, to the physical presence of mostly young people on the streets in many states of the nation.
One of the major places protesters converged was the Lekki toll gate, where, on the 20th October, 2020, the protests grew violent with the protesters alleging that military personnel had fired live shots at protesters who were without arms. An allegation the Army denied.
As a result of the denial, the Governor had set up the Judicial Panel to look into and find out what actually transpired at the Lekki tollgate.
The panel submitted the report to the governor’s office on Monday, 15th November 2021- a year after the incidence.
The 309-page report detailed how the Army and Police disregarded their rules of engagement during the protest.
“The panel found that the Nigerian Police Force deployed its officers to the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of October 20, 2020, and between that night and the morning of October 21, 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”.
“The panel found that LCC (Lekki Concession Company) 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 October 20, 2020, which it tendered before the panel.
Governor Sanwo-Olu has vowed a “proper response” to the panel’s recommendations, adding that a “white paper” would be published within the next two weeks.
“This process will help us start the very difficult process of proper reconciliation, restitution, bringing together of anyone… affected,” he said.
On the 20th of October 2021, activists and protesting youths held memorial protests at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos and at the Unity Fountain in Abuja.
Story: Ene Ken-Yawe