Last Updated on November 23, 2021 by Opeyemi Quadri
On October 20, 2020, members of the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Army stormed Lekki Toll Gate, the centre of EndSARs protest, in Lagos, and opened fire at unarmed protesters who were protesting over police brutality.
An unknown number of protesters were killed, some remained missing, while many others sustained everlasting gunshot injuries from the military and the Police. By the early morning of October 21, 2021, some bodies were found floating in a carnal while some bodies were later found at different morgues across the state.
Who ordered the Lekki shooting?
The question remained who ordered the killing of innocent Nigerians who were protesting over police brutality, instead of the government taking action to address the concerns, armed police men and soldiers were sent to the Tollgate to fire direct bullets at them.
The government said some of the videos that circulated on social media were doctored while Nigeria’s Minister of Information Mr Lai Mohammed discredit CNN video of Lekki shooting and called on the international media organisation to apologise to the Federal Government for circulating what he described as “a massacre without dead bodies”
The contradictory statements made by senior government officials showed that the Lagos state government may have called security officials to restore law and order at the gate, but the overzealous security men who are used to impunity may have fired and killed innocent protesters.
Although, there were also attacks on properties belonging to the government worth billions of naira in other locations of Lagos, the protest at Lekki toll gate was going on peacefully when the soldiers arrived at the scene.
Lagos State Governor Babatunde Sanwo-Olu in reaction to the calamitous incidence set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS-related Abuses and Other Matters to investigate the killing and make recommendations to the government.
After a year of the incident, the panel which was headed by Retired Justice Doris Okuwobi submitted the EndSARs report to the state governor.
The atrocious maiming and killing of unarmed, helpless and unresisting protesters, while sitting on the floor and waving their Nigerian flags, while singing the National Anthem can be equated to a massacre in context, part of the 309-page report says.
Content of the EndSARs report
Based on the evidence made available to the panel, 48 people are victims. Out of them, nine were confirmed killed by soldiers and police, 35 protesters sustained everlasting gunshot injury, while the whereabouts of four protesters who were at Lekki Toll gate, scene of the massacre, are unknown.
9 EndSARs Protesters Who Were Killed By Security Men At Lekki Tollgate
|Nathaniel Solomon||Killed||All the nine victims are males and their family members traced their corpses to different morgues in Lagos. Family members also testified before judicial panel setup by the state government.|
|Olalekan Abideen Ashafa||Killed|
|Victor Sunday Ibanga||Killed|
Nathaniel Solomon is said to be alive while the report says he was killed. It was reported that he fainted at the scene of the protest and was later resuscitated at the hospital
35 Protesters Who Sustained Everlasting Gun Injury from Soldiers and Police During Lekki Toll Gate Shooting
|Nnatah Stanley Chimezie||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Olalekan Sanusi||Military assault||Male|
|Joshua James||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Samuel Ashola||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Theophilus David||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Onileowo Legend||Severe assault by police||Male|
|Emmanuel Ogbonna||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Olamide Dauda||Stampede injury||Male|
|Solomon Samuel Agih||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Ifeanyi Agbezie||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Paul Femi||Gunshot graze||Male|
|Avweroguo Trust||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Inusa Adamu||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Savior Osike||Military assault||Male|
|Simon Abu Raymond||Injury||Male|
|Felix Nandip||Gunshot injury||Male|
|John Harrison||Military assault||Male|
|Moses Oyi||Gunshot graze||Male|
|Moses Adams||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Isaac Amede||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Andrew Ugochukwu||Military assault||Male|
|Charles Chinedu Ozioma||Miliary assault||Male|
|Damilola Adedayo||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Ioityom Samuel||Miliatry assault||Male|
|Lucky Philemon||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Ajoku Japphet||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Mabel Nnaji||Gunshot injury||Female|
|Ukala Patrik Ayide||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Joshua Samuel||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Olalekan Faleye||Gunshot injury||Male|
|Nicolas Okpe||Gunshot injury||Male|
4 Protesters Whose Whereabouts Are Unknown
|Tola||Presumed dead||All of them are males. Their bodies could not be traced. Considering video clips that circulated online how soldiers evacuated some dead bodies at the scene of the incidence|
|Ifeanyi Nichola Eji||Presumed dead|
|Abiodun Adesanya||Presumed dead|
Who will implement Lagos EndSARS report?
Human rights lawyers, organisations within and outside Nigeria, and consulates among others are calling on the state government to implement the recommendations of the Lekki toll gate shooting report.
One of the major recommendations of the report is for the state and federal government to punish soldiers and policemen who opened fire on the unarmed protesters.
But Nigerians are asking: who will implement the recommendations considering the level of impunity by Nigerian security operatives in the past which were usually swept under the carpet. Most times, when policemen are accused of killing because of bribes on the highways, they are posted to another as a cover-up.
Implications of Endsars Report on Investments in Nigeria
To us at InfomediaNG Business Solutions (IBS), out concern is how the government’s reactions to the findings of the Lekki shooting panel will affect foreign direct investments into Nigeria.
First, the Lekki toll gate exposed Nigeria to the World how devilish some members of the Nigerian security men are.
Second, it showed how cruel Nigerian soldiers and policemen could be to their citizens. No image maker can rebuild the perception of foreigners about what happened at Lekki toll gate unless the government is transparent in bringing to justice all members of NPF and NA who participated and carried out the carnage.
Pathetically, the poor handling by the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigeria Police Force of protesters at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2021, during the one-year remembrance of the shooting as police teargassed and harassed journalists and protesters showed that they can never change unless authorities take severe action against them. They showed their impunity to the rest of the world, yet again.
Foreign investors, most times, take business decisions based on data and the government’s respect for the rule of the law. Respect to the existing laws is one of the major ways justice can be obtained when the need arises in business
Most importantly, what happens when a government fails to abide by the terms and conditions of an investment partnership? What happens if such investor can not get redress at court?
For instance, the founder of Econet Mr. Strive Masiyiwa revealed how Jame Ibori demanded bribe of up to NGN1.6billion from him and threatened to chase him out of Nigeria if he refused to pay. To date, the government has not reacted to the allegation.
A case like this forms part of the investment decision of foreign investors. We hope that the government brings those found culpable in the killing of EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate to book. They must be punished. The government should show transparency in the implementation of the recommendations, not the usual back procedures.
Part of the report says:
It was alleged and corroborated that the soldiers had their vans parked at the Lekki tollgate and removed as many bodies and corpses of the fallen protesters, which they took away with their vans.
No one is above the law, even the governor, lawmakers, and the president are not. Justice must be served to build the trust of foreign investors who might be considering investing in Nigeria which is blessed with more than 40 natural resources spread across the 36 states.
According to the chair of Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for victims of SARS related abuses and other matters, Retired Justice Okuwobi, the panel awarded a total of N410 million to 70 victims of Police brutality, and 235 petitions were received, with only 14 of it being on the alleged Lekki shooting incident. This is a good development, but the culprits must be severely punished to serve as a deterrent to other overzealous police officers and soldiers.
EndSARS report panel isn’t the first to make recommendations in Nigeria but was never implemented. For instance, the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo set up on June 14, 1999, the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission of Nigeria popularly known as “Oputa Panel” headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Chukwudifu Oputa to investigate human rights during the period of military regime from 1984 to 1999. Up till now, the report remained in the dustbin
Encouraging foreign investors to come to Nigeria will be futile if gross abuse of human rights by government officials and security men continue.
Implementing the recommendations of the EndSARS panel on Lekki toll gate shooting is another opportunity Nigeria has to show the world that lives matter and that obeying the rule of law is essential in creating a conducive environment for business and investment to survive. The report must not end up like Opuatal Panel report.
- By Tobi Oshinnaike on Unsplash