Jittery Nigerian Army Wants to Avoid Judicial Panel over Lekki Shootings
The Nigerian Army appears unready to honor an invitation from the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the shooting of peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.
Reports reveal that the army was insisting on honouring invitations directly from Lagos state government alone.
Sunday PUNCH quoted an anonymous member of the panel to have said an invitation letter has been sent to the army on a date not revealed.
The daily also quoted the acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations and 81 Division’s spokesperson, Major Osoba Olaniyi, to have said it was not the duty of the judicial panel to invite the Army to answer questions regarding the reported shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll plaza.
Olaniyi also reported to have confirmed that army officers were at the Lekki tollgate incident because the Lagos State government invited them, and that the army would only appear before the panel only if the same state government asked them to appear.
“If we receive a letter from the state, we will go. Are we not under civil authorities? Are we not part of Nigerians? Have you forgotten that we did not go there (Lekki tollgate) on our own?
“It is not the duty of the members of the panel to tell us that. If the state wants the (81) Division to come, they will write and we will oblige. See, if they have written to the division, it is our duty to go. It is not for them to go through the media as if we are scared of coming.
“It is the state government that constituted that panel of inquiry. So if anybody needs to get in touch with us to come, it is still the state and not members of the panel”, he was quoted to have said.
Of course, Olaniyi’s retorts contradicted the army’s initial denial of presence and involvement at the Lekki Tollgate incident before pressure and evidence forced them to recant.
The army authorities, in a tweet on October 21, initially denied that its personnel were at the scene of the shootings. The army, via its Twitter handle, described the report as ‘fake news.’
Even after it was forced to agree that its personnel were at the scene on the invitation of Lagos State government, the Army still denied shooting the peaceful protesters.
Here too, evidence showed that people were killed. Amnesty International also said it had evidence that no fewer than 12 protesters were killed at the Lekki tollgate and Alausa areas of the state.
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