The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for victims of SARS-related abuses and other matters on Monday submitted its report to Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu.
The report concluded that the Nigerian Army shot and killed unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
Titled, ‘Report of Lekki Incident Investigation Of 20th October 2020’, the panel said at least 48 protesters were either shot dead, injured with bullet wounds or assaulted by soldiers.
According to the report, nine protesters were confirmed dead, while four were presumed dead.
The panel listed 48 names as casualties of the incident.
Among the 48, about 20 sustained gunshot injuries, while 13 others were assaulted by the military.
Those killed, according to the report, were Victor Sunday Ibanga, Abuta Solomon, Jide, Olalekan Abideen Ashafa, Olamilekan Ajasa, Kolade Salami, Folorunsho Olabisi, Kenechukwu Ugoh and Nathaniel Solomon.
The report also listed Abiodun Adesanya, Ifeanyi Nicholas Eji, Tola and Wisdom as “presumed dead.”
The panel also noted that 96 other corpses were presented by a forensic pathologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Prof John Obafunwa.
According to the 309-page report, the protesters were allegedly killed by policemen and soldiers.
According to the Panel, the Nigerian Army “was invited for intervention in the State and was deployed to Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th of October 2020.
“At the Lekki Toll Gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenseless protesters, without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian Flag and singing the National Anthem and the manner of assault and killing could in context be described as a massacre.
“The Panel also found that the conduct of the Nigerian Army was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances render medical assistance to victims who required such assistance.
“The Army was also found not to have adhered to its own Rules of Engagement.”
The Panel also “found that the Nigerian Police Force deployed its officers to the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of the 20th October, 2020 and between that night and the morning of the 21st of October, 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.”
Also, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), operators of the toll gate, was found to have “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 the 20th of October 2020, which it tendered before the Panel.”
The Panel noted “that there was an invitation of the Nigerian Army to Lagos State made by the Lagos State Government through the Governor before the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army deployed its soldiers to the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of the 20th of October.
“The Panel found that there was an attempt to cover up the Incident of the 20th of October by the cleaning of the Lekki Toll Gate and the failure to preserve the scene ahead of potential investigations.”
The Federal Government through its information minister, Mr. Lai Mohammed had denied that unarmed protesters were killed at the toll gate on October 20.
He described the incident as a “massacre without bodies.”
The Nigerian Army also denied any wrongdoing.
Earlier while submitting her report, Justice Doris Okuwobi (retired), expressed deep appreciation to the Lagos State Government and all the stakeholders who appeared before the Panel. She also thanked members of the Panel for their uncommon resolve to bring closure to the assignment and good team work.
She said part of the recommendations of the panel is establishment of a body to take over human rights abuses in Lagos.
Justice Okuwobi, who disclosed that the panel awarded a total of N410 million to 70 victims of Police brutality, said 235 petitions were received with only 14 of it being on the alleged Lekki Shooting incident.
“As much as the panel desired to have taken all petitions, the ones that were not taken by the panel were those that did not comply to our rules, so in this report, we made recommendations for a body to take over human rights abuse cases in Lagos State,” she said.
It would be recalled Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on October 19, 2020 inaugurated the Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate alleged cases of brutality and human rights violations perpetrated by the Police and operatives of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The panel was also saddled with the investigation of the alleged shootings that took place on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki Tollgate.