Five months after the historic protest at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, and the widespread violence that followed, the US Department of State has released its own report.
Waiting anxiously for this particular report are Nigerian media, activists, including ENDSARS movement, Revolution Now, Lawyer Femi Falana’s Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond others.
They believed the federal government can’t help coming under the hammer of the world’s biggest rights police.
Some have specifically written petition to the US to sanction President Muhammadu Buhari, former COAS Gen Tukur Buratai, Lagos Gov Babajide Sanwo Olu, APC National Leader Bola Tinubu, and others believed to have unleashed the military on civilian protesters. Others petitioned the ICC for similar sanctions.
The activists and critics will however be disappointed now.
The DoS report says no evidence to substantiate the alleged killing—of 10 protesters, according to the Amnesty International, or 38 by CNN investigation, or 78 by DJ Switch, the most prominent of the protesters now in Canada.
While various investigative reports alleged the soldiers fired directly into the crowd Oct 20, the US report states otherwise.
Tagged ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria,’ the report says , “On October 20, members of the security forces enforced curfew by firing shots into the air to disperse protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos to protest abusive practices by the Nigerian Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end.
“Amnesty International reported 10 persons died during the event, but the government disputed Amnesty’s report, and no other organization was able to verify the claim. The government reported two deaths connected to the event.
“One body from the toll gate showed signs of blunt force trauma. A second body from another location in Lagos State had bullet wounds.
“The government acknowledged that soldiers armed with live ammunition were present at the Lekki Toll Gate. At year’s end the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution continued to hear testimony and investigate the shooting at Lekki Toll Gate.”
The report came about the time interests of many observers of the judicial panel the state set up to investigate the incident are waning.
The Falana group gave its special panel a month to get done with its own independent inquiry, the Nigeria Bar Association also set its own mandate, while lawyers pressed the opportunity to stand up and be counted.
Yet there has been no substantial evidence to disprove the government claim only two people died.
US President Biden was heading into election when the incident happened. He, too, tweeted against brutal use of force, and warned of consequences.
However, his administration might not have initiated the probe that produced this report.
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