Lekki Shootings: How Troops Moved To Toll Gate – Amnesty International

October 29, 2020
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Amnesty International, the global rights watchdog, has talked some more on the Lekki shootings.

The group yesterday asked the Federal Government not to cover up the shooting at the Lekki Toll Gate during the #EndSARS protests but bring to justice those involved.

The group said its call became necessary because government had a knack for sweeping under the carpet incidents of such magnitude, citing the killings of hundreds of Shi’ites who were killed in Zaria, Kaduna State, in 2016, insisting that soldiers shot at the protesters.

In fact, Amnesty International alleged yesterday that the Federal Government was doing everything possible to cover up on the shooting of the #EndSARS protesters at Lekki.

However, both the Nigerian Army and Defence Headquarters refused to react yesterday, as several calls made to the mobile phones of their spokesmen received no reply.

Text messages also sent to their phones were not replied.

At best, Army Headquarters in Abuja, told Vanguard later that 81 Div of the Army had already reacted on its behalf.

The Division had said in a statement on Tuesday night that though they were invited by Lagos State government in the aftermath of the shooting at Lekki, its men were not involved in the shooting.

Similarly, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, kept mum when contacted.

Officials of Lagos State government also kept mum, as efforts to get them to react at press time proved abortive.

Several phone calls and SMS sent to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, were not responded to as his line was busy.

However, in its latest report published yesterday, the rights group released details of the timeline of events from when the protests started on October 20, 2020.

Denials, cover-ups

The group in a statement signed by Country Director, Osai Ojigho, said: “What happened at Lekki Toll Gate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings.

“The initial denials of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting was followed by the shameful denial of the loss of lives as a result of the military’s attack against the protests,” she said.

“Many people are still missing since the day of the incident, and credible evidence shows that the military prevented ambulances from reaching the severely injured in the aftermath.”

“One week on, the Nigerian authorities still have many questions to answer: who ordered the use of lethal force on peaceful protesters? Why were CCTV cameras on the scene dismantled in advance? And who ordered electricity being turned off minutes before the military opened fire on protesters?

“The initial denials of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting was followed by the shameful denial of the loss of lives as a result of the military’s attack against the protests.

“Many people are still missing since the day of the incident, and credible evidence shows that the military prevented ambulances from reaching the severely injured in the aftermath.”

Tracking the military’s movements

The group  also said it tracked the military’s movements before the incident, saying, “Amnesty International’s Crisis Response experts investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirm the Nigerian security forces were present at the Lekki Toll Gate when the shootings occurred.

“At 6:29pm local time in Lagos, two military vehicles were filmed leaving Bonny Camp on videos shared on social media.

“Later footage showed four vehicles with flashing lights in a convoy, and they appeared to be vehicles used by the Nigerian military and police.

“The same vehicles headed east along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue – which changed its name to Lekki-Epe Expressway – in the direction of the Lekki Toll Gate.

“On this route, the vehicles passed several international embassies and consulates, including the Japanese Embassy and the Australian High Commission.

“Further photographs and footage captured the vehicles arriving at the toll gate, before the peaceful protest was disrupted by men in military uniform and gunfire was heard.

“At night time, the soldiers descended on protesters, as protesters continued to film and share videos of the shootings. Later in the evening, videos of the victims were also shared on social media.”

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