Amnesty releases timeline of Lekki shootings, warns govt against cover-up

Global rights group, Amnesty International, has released the timeline of the October 20, 2020 shootings at the Lekki toll plaza.

Amnesty, which stated last week that at least 10 persons were killed at the tollgate, detailed the events leading to the incident and warned the authorities against a cover-up.

This is contained in a statement titled, ‘Nigeria: Authorities must stop attempts to cover-up Lekki Toll Gate massacre – new investigative timeline’.

The timeline collates photographs and video footage to confirm that Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base approximately a seven-minute drive from the toll gate, at 6.29pm local time on October 20.

Amnesty said its International 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 as opposed to an earlier statement by the Nigerian Army.

The group said at 6:29pm local time in Lagos, two military vehicles were filmed leaving Bonny Camp on videos shared on social media.

Amnesty said, “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 pass several international embassies and consulates, including the Japanese Embassy and the Australian High Commission.

“Further photographs and footage capture the vehicles arriving at the toll gate, 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 said approximately 6.45pm, the Nigerian military opened fire on the #EndSARS protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.

Country Director of Amnesty International, Osai Ojigho, said what happened at the Lekki tollgate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces committed unlawful killings.

Ojigho said, “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 denials of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting were 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 called on the government 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 said.

Meanwhile, a Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by the Lagos State Government to look into the incident and grievances of victims commenced hearing on Tuesday.

The Panel calls on the public to come forward with memoranda for discussion.

 THE PUNCH

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