Lekki shootings: Amnesty International warns against cover-up
THE Amnesty International, on Wednesday, told the Federal Government not to attempt any move to cover up investigations into the Lekki tollgate shooting of some #EndSARS protesters by some soldiers.
Amnesty International said the victims of the shooting at Lekki tollgate last week Tuesday must get justice with the identification and diligent prosecution of the soldiers who shot into the crowd of protesters demonstrating against police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the country.
The organisation maintained that after monitoring the #EndSARS protest, which rocked the country for more than a week, no fewer than 56 people were killed.
In a statement signed by the media manager of Amnesty International, Mr Isa Sanusi, the organisation maintained that available evidence from photographs and video footage indicated that “Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base approximately a seven-minute drive from the tollgate, at 6:29 p.m. local time on October 20.”
According to the statement, “footage then tracks the vehicles to the toll gate. At approximately 6:45 p.m., the Nigerian military opened fire on the #EndSARS protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality. What happened at Lekki tollgate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings,” said Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International.
“One week on, the Nigerian authorities still have many questions to answer: Who ordered the use of lethal force on peaceful protesters? Why were CCTV cameras on the scene dismantled in advance? And who ordered electricity being turned off minutes before the military opened fire on protesters? The initial denial of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting was followed by the shameful denial of the loss of lives as a result of the military’s attack against the protests.
“Many people are still missing since the day of the incident, and credible evidence shows that the military prevented ambulances from reaching the severely injured in the aftermath. Amnesty International is again calling on Nigerian authorities to bring to justice those behind the shooting and to protect those who are exercising their right to freedom of assembly.
“The organisation is still investigating the shooting, and the reported removal of bodies of those killed by the military in an attempt to remove evidence.”
It added that “the Amnesty International’s Crisis Response experts investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirm the Nigerian security forces were present at the Lekki tollgate when the shootings occurred.
“At 6:29 p.m. local time in Lagos, two military vehicles were filmed leaving Bonny Camp on videos shared on social media. Later footage shows four vehicles with flashing lights in a convoy, and they appear to be vehicles used by the Nigerian military and police.
“The same vehicles head east along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue – which changes its name to the Lekki-Epe Expressway – in the direction of the Lekki tollgate. On this route, the vehicles passed several international embassies and consulates, including the Japanese Embassy and the Australian High Commission.
“Further photographs and footage capture the vehicles arriving at the tollgate, before the peaceful protest is disrupted by men in military uniform and gunfire is heard. As night time descended, protesters continued to film and share videos of the shootings. Later in the evening, videos of the victims were also shared on social media.
“Amnesty International has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSARS protest began on October 8, 2020. Nigerians have been taking to the streets, peacefully demanding an end to police brutality, extrajudicial executions and extortion by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian police tasked with fighting violent crimes. At least 56 people have died across the country since protests began. In multiple cases, the security forces have used excessive force in an attempt to control or stop the protests,” the statement concluded.