#EndSARS: Evidence shows that we have been vindicated- Protesters
Nigerian youths who protested at Lekki Toll gate last year have said that the findings of the #EndSARS report released yesterday by the Lagos State government vindicate them.
While feeling excited, Akinseloyin Emmanuel, one of the protesters, told BusinessDay that the finding confirms the truth about the Lekki massacre as against the federal government’s claims.
“Even before the investigation, we knew that people were murdered that day. I am just glad that this report has confirmed that it did happen and it will go on record,” Emmanuel said.
He further added that the government should own up by punishing those who masterminded the massacre and compensate those families of people that they killed that day.
Similarly, Akin Olaoye, who was at the frontline of the protest that night, told CNN, “The findings are a big win and lead us on a pathway to obtaining justice for many of the innocent victims, survivors, and lost souls still lying in unmarked graves.”
The #EndSARS campaign which started on October 5, 2020, drew worldwide attention to Nigeria as youths took to the streets to protest against police brutality and the dismantlement of the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
But the aftermath of that led to a shooting on October 20 which ultimately crushed the #EndSARS campaign.
Before the report findings, there was evidence, especially video footage from CNN that protesters were shot but the government vehemently denied it.
Read also: EndSARS: Lagos will fully implement judicial panel report- Sanwo-Olu
Last month, on the first anniversary of the shooting, Lai Mohammed, the minister of Information described the incident as a “phantom massacre” and continued to dismiss CNN’s investigation as fake news.
Key findings from the report show that there were 48 casualties of the shooting incident, out of which nine people were dead, four were presumed dead and 24 were injured.
“The Lekki Toll Gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenseless protesters, without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian Flag and singing the National Anthem and the manner of assault and killing could in context be described as a massacre,” the report stated.
The Panel also found that the conduct of the Nigerian Army was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances to render medical assistance to victims who required such assistance.
“The Army was also found not to have adhered to its own Rules of Engagement. There was also an attempt to cover up the incident by the cleaning of the Lekki Toll Gate and the failure to preserve the scene ahead of potential investigations,” the report highlighted.
Confidence MacHarry, a resident security expert at SBM Intelligence said the most important thing from the report is that it shows that the government lied.
He further said, “This may lead to some sort of delegitimization of the state governors in the eye of the people for the fact that the state governors would come out to lie. It tells of Nigeria’s already established norm as a known first society and it will get difficult to trust political statements and politicians going forward.”
In her verified Twitter page, DJ Switch, a popular disco jockey who live-streamed some of the events of that night wrote “Shattered so many lives, tried to destroy mine. Only for what you desperately tried to hide to be made public… by you! The truth needs no defense! #EndSARS.
The panel also highlighted recommendations such as holistic police reforms covering welfare, training and proper equipping of policemen and their working environment and sanctioning of the officers of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force respectively who participated in the shooting, injuring, and killing of unarmed protestors at the Lekki Toll Gate.
Others are; development of a more robust engagement between the Youth and the Government, Setting up of a Standing Committee/Tribunal to deal with cases of Violation of Human Rights by security agencies and a trust fund to settle compensation awarded by such committee/tribunal and a public apology to #EndSARS protesters who were killed, injured and traumatized by the incident.