According to the following excerpt from the report of the Lagos #EndSARS Judicial panel, the Lekki Shooting of October, 20, 2020 was a massacre.
Whether there was a massacre at Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020.
The atrocious maiming and killing of unarmed, helpless and unresisting protesters, while sitting on the floor and waving their Nigerian flags, while singing the national anthem can be equated to a ‘massacre’ in context.
“A massacre has been defined as the killing of multiple individuals, which is considered to be morally unacceptable, especially when perpetrated by political actors against defenceless victims” – Wikipedia
The panel considered whether what took place at the Lekki Tollgate on the 20th October, 2020 was a MASSACRE. According to the learned authors of Merriam-Webster online dictionary, one of the meanings of massacre is “the act or instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty.
Against the above ‘contextual’ definitions, the Panel considered the following evidence before it:
1. The EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate were defenseless members of the civil populace, youth and young adults;
2. Both the Lagos State Government and indeed the Federal Government were well aware of their status, objectives and the nature of their protest;
3. The presence of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate did not threaten the territorial integrity of Nigeria and could not be considered as a civil insurrection to warrant the intervention of the Nigerian Army;
4. Some top officials of the Lagos State Government met with the youths at the Lekki Toll Gate around 12-1pm of October 20, 2020, seeking selected representatives to discuss an urgent matter with them with a view to persuading them to leave the Lekki Toll Gate;
5. Officers and soldiers of 65 Batallion of the Nigerian Army, led by Lt. Col Bello, left their base with blank and live ammunitions to confront and disperse youths holding only their national flags, with live bullets;
6. The soldiers actually shot blank and live bullets directly and pointedly into the midst of the protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, with the deliberate intention to assault, maim and kill;
7. The soldiers turned back ambulances that were invited to render first aid and assistance to the wounded protesters;
8. The Panel finds that the Nigerian Army had exited the Panel at the time of the testimony of the EndSARS protesters so that their testimonies and evidence were largely uncontroverted through contrary evidence from those accused of shooting, especially the Nigerian Army. The only witness of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier-General Taiwo admitted that he was not personally present at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
9. The Panel finds that the cross-examinations of the EndSARS protesters by the Lagos State Government, Lekki Concession Company and the Nigeria Police Force did not impeach the direct evidence of the eye witnesses, whereas the evidence of the Lagos State Government, the Lekki Concession Company and the Police came from witnesses who stated that they were not at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
10. It was alleged and corroborated that the soldiers had their vans parked at the Lekki Toll Gate and removed as many bodies and corpses of the fallen protesters which they took away with their vans. One of the protesters who was shot and taken for dead, Olalekan Sanusi, who eventually escaped to narrate his ordeal and experience stated that 11 corpses were in the van, where he was placed in and presumed dead. Miss Dabira Ayuku also corroborated the above by stating that she saw about 7 dead bodies placed in one of the military trucks at the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of 20th October, 2020.
It was alleged and corroborated that soldiers picked bullet shells on the night of October 20 and policemen followed up in the morning of October 21 to pick bullet shells.
12. Several unidentified bodies were removed by security agencies and LASEHMU (Lagos State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit) and deposited at various hospital mortuaries in Lagos State.
13. Three (3) trucks with brushes underneath were brought to the Lekki Toll Gate in the morning of October 21st October, 2020 to clean up the scene of bloodstains and other evidence.
14. There was abundant evidence before the Panel that the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) indicated in its Twitter handle that it had effectively cleaned up the Lekki Toll Gate scene immediately after the incident of October 20, 2020.
15. The denial of ambulances by the soldiers, which could have assisted in the prompt and effective treatment of injured protesters, was cruel and inhuman and it contributed immensely to the large number of deaths and casualties on the part of the protesters, especially those from the Lekki Toll Gate.
16. The Panel finds the cases of death or injured protesters as credible and uncontroverted.
17. The Panel finds that most EndSARS protesters and victims of the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of October 20, 2020 were largely unwilling to be identified in public for fear of persecution or harassment by the security agencies and the government generally. Immediately after the protest, there was palpable fear that the Army and Police were visiting hospitals to ‘finish up’ the protesters to the extent that some of them could not return home immediately. Some of the protesters received threats and some were being trailed by unknown persons.