With a commitment to uncovering the truth about the events that led to the October 20th 2020 shooting at the Lekki Toll Gate during the #EndSARS protests, the Lagos state judicial panel of inquiry and restitution has continued hearing testimony from individuals of interest as regards the shooting and accusations of police and military brutality towards protesting citizens.
The panel invited Brigadier General Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo of the 81 Division Nigeria Army to give testimony about the Nigerian army’s involvement in the shooting. The general has reiterated the army’s assertions that it became involved with the protests at the invitation of the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The General clarified the army was asked to deploy units to address the rioting in the state, even though he didn’t clarify if specific information about the touchpoints where the rioting was most intense was shared.
Taiwo alleges that there were significant lapses in communication between the army and the Lagos state government. He says the army was unaware of the governor’s announcement to delay the start of the emergency curfew by 6 hours, and they were unaware of the reason for this decision for the change of directive. The state had already experienced significant challenges with transportation thanks to spontaneous protests and acts of civil disobedience across the state that made it near impossible for citizens to obey the emergency curfew.
“Little mention has been made of the wanton destruction that happened prior to that occurrence,” Taiwo said, reminding the panel that the army was invited to address statewide rioting and that law enforcement officers were disprortionately targeted, signifiying a breakdown of order and making military intervention necessary.
“The world over, it is the custom that the army intervenes when a situation overcomes the police and paramilitary services, ” he explained, quoting Section 217 2C of the constitution and supporting his stance with pictorial and video evidence. He explains that small military parties were deployed from Badagry, Ikrodu, Epe, Apapa, Ikeja, Alimosho and even Lagos Island to restore order and address the civil unrest in those areas, but that the misinformation around the Lekki Toll incident has prevented a clearer picture of military efforts from that night to emerge.
He insists military personnel sought only to disperse the crowd at the Lekki Toll Plaza, mistaking them for curfew defaulters. He alleges blank shots were fired into the air and maintains that the army has no hand in the alleged death and disappearance of protesters.