VICTIMS of the October 20 Lekki Tollgate shootings on Friday besieged the Lagos State judicial panel of inquiry premises displaying varying degrees of wounds.
One of them has had his leg amputated.
The victims numbering about 15 arrived at the venue of the sitting in a white Civilian bus with bruised faces and chests, some on crutches with their limbs heavily bandaged.
While being led to the panel venue by their counsel, Mr Adesina Ogunlana, some of the victims said that they came as a group to counter claims by the government and the Nigerian Army that no protesters were killed or injured by soldiers’ bullets at the tollgate.
The commander of the Nigerian Army Military Intelligence, 81 Brigade, Lagos, Brigadier-General Ahmed Taiwo, had, while being cross-examined on November 21, denied that soldiers fired live ammunition at the protesters.
The military officer testified before the panel that no life was lost at the tollgate as his men were not at the protest ground to kill protesters but to restore normalcy.
But contrary to this claim, Ogunlana, who paraded the victims, said 14 of the protesters were shot by the soldiers at the protest ground at the Lekki Tollgate, while the 15th person was shot at Ojodu Berger.
One of the victims, Edwin Augustine who had his left thigh pierced with bullet, said, “We heard that there was going to be a curfew but we were, like, ‘curfew when there is a mammoth crowd with superstars?’ How could curfew take place? I was at the snooker board but I didn’t know how to play. I was just watching the game. “Minutes later, I left for where I was charging my phone and the light went off. The next I heard were gunshots. The guy that was standing beside me was shot. As I was trying to check if it was something mild, I received a gunshot on my thigh and I lost consciousness. The bullet is still inside of me; not yet removed.
“When I woke up the next day, I discovered that I had been taken to the Lagos State General Hospital, Ikeja. I didn’t have any phone to call anybody, so I begged someone to assist me with his phone with which I accessed my email from where I fetched my girlfriend’s phone number. Immediately I called her, I called my brother and that was how they knew I was at the General Hospital.
“My girlfriend has been the person providing for me. The bullet in my thigh is giving me discomfort. I feel discomfort. The bullet in my thigh makes it swollen and stiff. I wonder why the government said there was no shooting at all while I still have the bullet in my thigh.”
Another petitioner, Dabira Adeyinka, said that the government had been threatening families of victims and the hospitals that took them in and offering them money to keep mum. She identified some of the hospitals to include National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi; Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and Reddington Hospital in Lekki.
“We took corpses of protesters to Reddington Hospital only to be told that they could not give us the data. I went personally to see their doctor. I met the HR and he told me to give him 24 hours to provide the database of all these people but since then, nothing has been heard from them.
“Many people died that night and several others sustained injuries but they are afraid to come out because they are being threatened.
“They have tried to bribe many of the victims with money ranging from N200,000 to N500,000. But can this heal their wounds? No. Can this replace their amputated legs? No. Can it bring back the dead? No. All we want from this panel is justice.”
A brother to one of the victims, Nathaniel Solomon, narrated how his younger brother, Abouta Solomon, was allegedly shot dead at the tollgate. He said Abouta has since been buried in his hometown in Mubi Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
Solomon said: “The person in this picture I am holding is my younger brother, Abouta Solomon. He was shot by soldiers at Lekki Tollgate on October 20. It was the army that shot him.
“I didn’t know when he left home for the tollgate. He never told me he was going there. He was living with me here in Lekki, at Marwa.
“It was after he had died that some boys called one of our brothers and told him that Abouta had been killed. We went there and found him on the grass. We picked his corpse and deposited it at St Paul’s Mortuary at Oyingbo. He was laid on the grass by a footpath lifeless. There were other dead bodies that littered around that night. We took my brother’s corpse and deposited it at the morgue. This was around 11.00 p.m.”
A victim’s father, Tunde Odeyemi, recounted his son’s ordeal.
He said: “He was at the protest ground where he sustained gun wound in his head. The bullet was stuck in his brain. He couldn’t talk or move. I was shocked to see him in such a state. I spoke with the doctor handling him to transfer him to the General Hospital in Ikeja because it is closer to us. The following day, we were transferred to the emergency unit at the General Hospital.
“The doctor told us to go for a brain scan where it was discovered that he had blood clot pile up in his brain which was preventing him from being able to speak.
“He told us that the drugs that were prescribed for him would thin the clot. Five days later, he was able to mumble some incoherent words, but at least he was able to say something. I know with faith he would get over this.”
Another victim, Aiyedungbe Gabriel Ayoola, allegedly died on November 12 at LASUTH as a result of a gunshot wound in his head. His sister, Olufunmi Aiyedungbe, told newsmen that after his brother’s death, LASUTH claimed that he had died of COVID-19.
She said: “Aiyedungbe Gabriel Ayoola was shot in the head and he died. We were looking for him because he wasn’t living with us. It was two days before he died that someone sent this to me on WhatsApp. They wrote it there that he was at LASUTH and that they were looking for his family. We went to LASUTH where he was lying unconsciously for two weeks.
“By the time we got there, he moved his hands but he couldn’t talk. They were feeding him through his nose. He had bedsore all over his body. I think he didn’t get the right medical attention which I think led to his death. They later changed the narrative at LASUTH that my brother died of COVID-19.”
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