The federal government Tuesday described as “triumph of fake news”, the report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel set up to investigate police brutality and alleged killings at Lekki Tollgate.
The panel, headed by a retired judge, Doris Okuwobi, had on Monday, November 15, 2021, submitted its reports to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the alleged shooting at the Lekki Tollgate during the October 2020 EndSARS protests.
The report said there was a “massacre in context” at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020, and that some protesters were killed or wounded by security operatives.
But addressing a press conference in Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the report was riddled with “discrepancies, innuendoes, inconsistencies, speculations and errors” and that its conclusions were not supported by evidence.
Wondering why bereaved families if there were any could not come forward to lodge complaints and claim reparation, and that the report was not signed by any member of the panel, he said that the federal government would not change its position that there was no massacre at Lekki Tollgate last year.
Also, lawyers and activists were divided when approached by the Daily Trust to get their views on what is in the public so far.
While some of them sided with the proponents of the alleged killings, others described everything about the #EndSARS as “stage-managed” that will never stand genuine scrutiny and test of time.
During the press conference yesterday, Lai Mohammed said: “Never in the history of any judicial panel in this country has its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendoes, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence.”
The minister identified ten loopholes in the panel’s report, which, he said, was laden with the same allegations it was set up to investigate.
“Instead of sitting for all of one year, the panel could have just compiled social media ‘tales by the moonlight’ on the incident and submitted, saving taxpayers’ funds and everyone’s time. That report is nothing but the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a vociferous lynch mob,” he said.
According to the minister, the report threw away the testimony of ballistic experts who testified before it.
“The team finds that from the medical data examined, including the timeline of arrival at the medical facility and the nature of the injuries sustained by the victims, who were taken to the 5 medical facilities, that no military grade live ammunition (high-velocity) was fired at the protesters at Lekki Tollgate on 20 October 2020, within the timeframe of reference (18.30- 20.34hrs).
“The same panel that said it deemed as credible the evidence of the Forensic Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, that only three of the bodies on which post mortem were conducted were from Lekki and only one had gunshot injury went on to contradict itself by saying nine persons died of gunshot wounds at Lekki!
“It did not occur to the panel to query the veracity of the testimony of a man who said he was shot and presumed dead but still had time to count dead bodies inside a supposedly dark van at night.
“The panel was silent on the family members of those reportedly killed, merely insinuating they were afraid to testify. Even goats have owners who will look for them if they do not return home, not to talk of human beings. Where are the family members of those who were reportedly killed at Lekki Tollgate? If the panel is recommending compensation for the families, what are their identities and addresses? Who will receive the compensations when no family members have shown up to date?
“How did a man who reported seeing the lifeless body of his brother himself end up being on the list of the panel’s deceased persons?
“How can a judicial panel convince anyone that the names of some casualties of the Lekki Toll Gate incident listed as numbers 3 (Jide), 42 (Tola) and 43 (Wisdom) are not fictitious.
“Why did the judicial panel feel compelled to concoct a ‘’massacre in context’’ as a euphemism for ‘’massacre’’? A massacre is a massacre. What is ‘massacre in context?’’’ he asked.
The minister also castigated the panel for ignoring other salient issues and instead expended its energy to achieve a premeditated goal.
“We are saddened that anyone died at all during the EndSARS protest as the life of every Nigerian and indeed every human is sacrosanct. As we have disclosed many times, 57 civilians, 37 policemen and six soldiers were killed across the country during the protest, and we commiserate with their families,” he said.