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Lekki shooting: Army insists carrying live weapon part of rule of engagement

The Nigerian Army has insisted that carrying live and blank weapons was part of its rule of engagement for internal security operations.

The army Saturday admitted that soldiers were given both live and blank bullets when they were deployed to disperse #ENDSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020.

Brigadier General Ibrahim Taiwo, commander of the 81 division of the Nigerian Army, broke the news while testifying before the judicial panel the Lagos state government set up to probe the incident.

But against the ongoing controversy over who shoot at protesters at Lekki toll gate, it is the first time the Nigerian Army has admitted carrying live ammunitions to the Lekki toll gate.

The army statement also contradicts previous statements about the incident including from Taiwo who told the judicial panel previously that the soldiers fired in the air and fired only blank ammunition.

But in a press statement Sunday signed by Osoba Olaniyi, Acting Deputy Director,
81 Division, Victoria Island, a copy which was send to BusinessDay, the army said that carrying live weapons by officers was not new but depend on the level of treat of the operations area, stressing that the commander on ground at Lekki tollgate did not find it necessary to fire live bullet which necessitated the firing of blank bullet.

The army further said the statement was necessary amidst wrong media reports about Taiwo’s testimony at the panel that army used live ammunition at protesters at Lekki toll gate.

The army insisted the only blank ammunition was fired to disperse the protesters, insisting that the Nigerian Army was law abiding and would alway act within the rule of engagement.

According to the statement,” The attention of the Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to news items on both the Social and mainstream Media insinuating that the troops of Nigerian Army contradicted its evidence of firing blank ammunition when it also carried live ammunition for Internal Security Operations on the 20 October 2020.

“We hereby state unequivocally that carrying both blank and live ammunition is part of our Table of Equipment for Internal Security operations. It is part of the Rules of Engagement for soldiers on Internal Security operations to carry both live and blank ammunition. The use of any of these ammuntions as stated in our Rules of Engagement depends on the level of threat at the operational area.

“Please note that one of the principles of internal security operations is the use of minimum Force. Minimum Force in itself is a function of the assessment of the Commander on the ground.

“ In this circumstances ie The Lekki Toll Gate, the Commander on the ground assessed that there was no need to use live ammunition that was why only blank ammunition was used at the Lekki Toll Gate. The blank ammunition was fired into the sky and not at the protester. The results are all glaring as there was no fatality recorded – this has been corroborated by both BBC report and other reputable news media outfits.

“The use of blank ammunition/minimum force achieved the aim of dispersing the hoodlums and crowd. It is pertinent to reiterate that the Nigerian Army is a law-abiding institution that acts in tandem with her Rules of Engagement. We therefore wish to advise all stakeholders to guard against being used by local and foreign agents of destabilization who do not wish this country any good”.

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