The federal government disowned the Lagos report on Tuesday #ENDSARS Judicial Commission of Inquiry and Restitution to the Lagos Arbitration Court, describing it as a mere repetition of previously made allegations.
He also said the report was intended to embarrass the federal government and its agencies.
Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said this when speaking to reporters in Abuja.
In the report, the panel concluded that Nigerian soldiers and police, on October 20, 2020, gunned down dozens of unarmed protesters in Lekki while waving the Nigerian flag and chanting the national anthem during the protest.
This, however, runs counter to the federal government’s position that no one was killed during the Lekki rally which was intended to protest police brutality.
Bad sign âMohammed
But the leaked panel report accused security agencies of killing dozens of protesters, a position the information minister contested at the media conference in Abuja.
He said: “Without mince words, let me say that never in the history of a judicial group in this country has its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies. , speculations, innuendos, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence. What is circulating in the public space is just a repeat of the unverified fake news that has been circulating on social media since the incident of October 20, 2020.
âIt is simply unbelievable that a judicial panel set up to investigate an incident has submitted a report laden with allegations, the same allegations that it was set up to investigate at first instance. Instead of sitting for a whole year, the panel could have simply compiled âmoonlight storiesâ on social media about the incident and submitted them, saving taxpayer funds and everyone’s time. This report is nothing but the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a loud lynch mob. “
The minister, who felt justified by the “critical analyzes” of the report by a courageous few, added: “A commentator, a lawyer, said he raised more questions than answers. Another commentator, a journalist, called it a “shameful report from a shameful panel”, saying he had reported allegations instead of investigating the allegations. Yet another wondered how a judicial panel could use the words âmassacre in contextâ and equate it to a massacre. All of these and more have raised valid questions about this report. We salute their courage and their refusal to be intimidated by the mob of unleashed lynchers who have been crying murder blue since the report was published. “
While acknowledging that the Lagos State government as the convening authority and the panel itself had yet to officially release the report, Mohammed said: âThe cowardly leak of an unsigned report to the public not enough. Assuming that the report in circulation carries an iota of authenticity, it is basic knowledge that the report of such a panel is of no force until the convening authority publishes a white paper. and a gazette on this subject. It is therefore too premature for any person or entity to seek to castigate the federal government and its agencies or officials on the basis of such an unofficial and unvalidated report.
The Minister listed the errors observed in the panel report as follows: âWe do not intend to bore you by going over the details of the discrepancies, innuendos, inconsistencies and errors in this report. They are already in the public space. However, let us underline some salient points of these discrepancies, errors, omissions, etc.
âThe report rejected the testimony of ballistics experts who testified before it. The experts said, inter alia, in their testimony:
âThe team finds that from the medical data examined, including the timing of arrival at the medical facility and the nature of the injuries sustained by the victims, who were taken to the 5 medical facilities, that no bullet Real military grade (high speed) was shot at the protesters at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020, within the benchmark (6.30 p.m. – 8:34 p.m.). That the GSW (Gun Shot Wounds) wounds (numbering 4 between 7:05 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.), which were examined by the team, can be safely identified as being discharged either by a low-speed caliber and / or handcrafted / 12-gauge firearms (homemade firearms are locally manufactured weapons).
âWhat is certain, however, is that military personnel deliberately fired live, military-grade ammunition directly at the demonstrators; there would have been many more deaths and catastrophic injuries recorded. It clearly was not.
âThe same panel that said they found the testimony of medical examiner Professor John Obafunwa to be credible that only three of the bodies on which the autopsy was performed were from Lekki and only one had been shot and wounded. is then contradicted by saying that nine people died from gunshot wounds in Lekki!
âThe man whose testimony (that he counted 11 bodies in a military van where he was left for dead before escaping) was deemed crucial by the panel has never testified in person. On the contrary, the video of his “testimony” was played by someone else. It did not occur to the panel to question the veracity of the testimony of a man who said he was shot and presumed dead but still had time to count the bodies inside. a supposedly dark van at night!
The panel said trucks with brushes underneath were brought to the Lekki tollgate on the morning of October 21, 2020 to clean up bloodstains and other evidence, but still found bullet casings on them. the same site when he visited on October 20, 2020. He said soldiers picked up shell casings at Lekki Toll Gate on the night of October 20, 2020, while claiming that police came to the same location to pick up the same shell casings. balls on October 21, 2020!
âThe panel was silent on the family members of those allegedly killed, simply implying that they were afraid to testify. Even goats have owners who will look for them if they don’t come home, let alone humans. Where are the family members of those allegedly killed at the Lekki tollgate? If the panel recommends compensation for families, what are their identities and addresses? Who will receive the benefits if no family member has come up to date?
“How did a man who said he saw his brother’s lifeless body himself end up on the panel’s list of deceased?” How can a judicial panel convince anyone that the names of some victims of the Lekki Toll Gate incident listed under numbers 3 (Jide), 42 (Tola) and 43 (Wisdom) are not fictitious names .
“Why did the judicial panel feel compelled to concoct a ‘massacre in context’ as a euphemism for ‘massacre’? A massacre is a massacre. What is the “massacre in its context?” “
Panel and security agencies
âThe report never mentioned the cases of members of the police being brutally murdered or the massive destruction of police stations, vehicles, etc. during the Endsars event. Does this mean that the panel did not consider police officers and women to be human beings?
âThe report made no recommendations on the innocent people whose businesses were attacked and destroyed during the protest in Lagos. I think he was too busy looking for evidence to support his conclusion of âmassacre in context,â âMohammed said.
In conclusion, the Minister said: ââ¦ there is absolutely nothing in the report circulating to change our position that there was no massacre in Lekki on October 20, 2020.
âIn order for us to switch booths, a well-researched incident report that meets all required standards and will withstand all examinations must be produced and presented to the public. The outstanding report does not meet these requirements.
âWe also call on the families of those allegedly killed in Lekki to speak out. It is untenable to say that some families did not come out because they were afraid. Any parent who is afraid to testify about the death of their child is not worth calling a parent.
âWe reject the idea that our soldiers and police slaughtered innocent Nigerians in Lekki on October 20, 2020. This conclusion is not supported by the weight of the available evidence. The murder charge is a very serious matter that cannot be established on the basis of allegations and corroborations, as the panel did.
âSuch claims must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The outstanding report is calculated to embarrass the federal government and its agencies without foolproof evidence. The federal government has never tolerated the abuse of Nigerians’ rights by security agencies in any form.
âThe 37 police officers and six soldiers who died across the country in the Endsars protest are also Nigerians and should not be forgotten.
âThose who have engaged in a premature celebration of the outstanding report should now read it carefully and tell Nigerians if it can pass a serious review.
âWe are saddened that anyone who died during the Endsars protest because the life of every Nigerian and indeed every human being is sacrosanct. As we have repeatedly disclosed, 57 civilians, 37 police officers and six soldiers were killed across the country during the protest, and we sympathize with their families.