Lekki Shootings: Army Kicks As Jury Calls Officers And Soldiers
Invitations duly signed by the chairman of the jury cannot be ignored – member
The Lagos State Judicial Commission, which investigated the shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lecchi toll booth on the night of October 20, 2020, called in the army to appear before it, PUNCH reported Sunday.
But the military indicated that they do not accept any calls or invitations from the jury, except that they come from the state government.
The seven-member jury, which began Monday, is also investigating allegations of atrocities committed by men from the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Lagos state government commissioner Doris Okuvobi, headed by retired judge Doris Okuvobi, told Sunday PUNCH that the commission has already sent out an invitation letter to the relevant authorities.
“We have summoned several government officials, including the military,” said a member of the commission on condition of anonymity.
When asked whether the commission had set a date for the army’s appearance, a member of the commission said: “There is no date yet. But, of course, we call the military, the police, and anyone else interested in our investigation. We have no restrictions on who we call. We want to understand the essence of the matter. The group agreed to send a letter to the military authorities. “
The government of Lagos, not the jury, has the right to invite us – Army
But when Sunday PUNCH contacted the Nigerian military with a proposal sent to him by the jury that he needed to tell his story about the incident, Acting Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the Army and spokesman for the 81st Division, Major Osoba Olaniyi, said. It was not the task of the judiciary to invite the army to answer questions regarding reports of the shooting of unarmed demonstrators at the toll station in Lecchi.
Olaniyi stressed that the army intervened in the Lecchi toll incident at the request of the Lagos state government and will appear before the commission on the basis of the same state government directive.
He said: “If we receive a letter from the state, we will go. Are we not subject to civil authorities? Aren’t we part of the Nigerians? Did you forget that we didn’t go there (Lekki toll station) alone?
“The jury members are not obliged to inform us about this. If the state wants the (81) division to come, it will write and we will do it. See, if they wrote to the department, it’s our duty to go. Not to deal with them through the media, as if we are afraid to come.
“The Commission of Inquiry was established by the state government. So if someone needs to contact us to come, it is still the state, not the members of the commission. “
A challenge signed by a judge cannot be ignored – Jury member
But in response to Olaniyya’s argument that the military would only honor an invitation from the state government, a group member who spoke to Sunday PUNCH, on condition of anonymity, said: “The invitation was sent by a group to the 81st Nigerian Army Battalion at Camp Bonnie and 82 1st division at Kofo Abayomi.
“The laws governing the panel of judges give it the right to summon anyone. After the call has been sent, it must be completed. If on the day when the army is supposed to appear, they do not come, the jury will consider other alternatives.
“If the military is under civilian leadership, I don’t understand how the judge will sign the subpoena, and it will be deliberately ignored. May such a day never come again in Nigeria. ”
The military was heavily criticized for the way in which the military, observing the state government curfew, on October 20, 2020, shot peaceful demonstrators at the toll station in Lecchi, as a result of which some were killed and others were injured of varying degrees of severity.
Army officials in a tweet on October 21 initially denied that his servicemen were at the scene of the shooting. The military, through their Twitter account, called the message “fake news.”
But after lawsuits and pressure from several individuals and groups, the military later admitted that their personnel were on site, but were invited by the state government. This contradicts a previous submission by the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanvo-Olu, who, on the morning of October 21, accused “forces outside our direct control” of the shooting.
The army denied shooting the protesters, and the governor also said that no one was killed during the exercise, but people were reportedly killed. Amnesty International also said it has evidence that at least 12 protesters were killed at the toll collection point in Lekki and in the Alausa districts of the state.
The deputy chief of the army said: “Since the beginning of the #EndSARS protest, the Nigerian Army’s 81st Division in Lagos has had no time. However, the decision to call the military was made by the Lagos state government following the imposition of a 24-hour curfew. This was the result of violence that led to the arson of several police stations, the killing of police officers, the release of suspects in police custody, and the transport of weapons.
“The situation was rapidly developing into anarchy. It was at this point that the Lagos State government asked the military to intervene to restore normalcy. During the military intervention, all procedures required for internal security operations were followed. And all the soldiers involved acted within the framework of the Rules of Engagement in National Security Operations. ”
Artist Obianuju Ude, also called DJ Switch, who was at the scene, later released a video in which he said at least 15 people were killed, adding that the soldiers had taken away the corpses in their vans. He noted that police officers were also involved in the shooting. The protest prompted the governor to expand the terms of reference of the seven-member jury to include an investigation into the shootings of Lecca.