EndSARS white paper: Lagos complied with the law – Attorney-general
Lagos State attorney-general and commissioner for justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo on Wednesday justified the state government’s White Paper on the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) on the report of Lekki Tollgate incident, saying the state complied with the laws and the weight of evidence presented in the Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reach a decision on panel’s reports.
He said the positions of the Lagos State government as stated in the White Paper was not contrary to the panel’s findings, especially the evidence of the pathologist, John Obafunwa, who said only three of the bodies that he conducted post mortem examination on during the EndSARS protests were from Lekki, and out of them, only one had gunshot injury.
Onigbanjo spoke during a Morning Show interview programme on Arise Television on Wednesday to discuss the White Paper released by Lagos State government on the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and the Lekki Toll Gate incident of October 20, 2020 in Lagos.
It would be recalled that Lagos State government in the White Paper released on Tuesday accepted 11, rejected one and agreed on six with modifications out of the 32 recommendations made by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the Lekki Tollgate shootings. It also stated that 14 recommendations fall outside its powers and would be forwarded to the Federal Government for consideration.
Prior to the release of the White Paper, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu during a state-wide broadcast called for harmony and invited youths, especially prominent members of the EndSARS campaigners and members of the civil society organisations to join him in a ‘Peace Walk’ to herald healing of Lagos State.
Some of the popular youths and artistes have turned down the governor’s invite for a peace rally, saying they have no faith in the Sanwo-Olu’s led government.
Onigbanjo said inconsistencies and contradictions in the leaked reports of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Lekki incidents that nine people died at Lekki Tollgate last year made the panel’s finding in respect to deaths at the tollgate unreliable, saying that for a finding that somebody died at a scene to be acceptable, there must be no doubt.
He said: “The position of Lagos State Government is based on the findings of the panel itself. So, it is not that Lagos State government just conjured things from the air. We went through the report and what we saw particularly in reference to the death of nine persons is that they found the evidence of the Pathologist, Obafunwa, who conducted an autopsy on all the bodies picked up all over Lagos during the protests, not just at Lekki Tollgate but state-wide, credible and there was no evidence to the contrary.
“Professor Obafunwa said that of all the bodies he conducted autopsies on, three came from Lekki and out of the three only one had gunshot injuries. And the panel then said we believe you, we accept your evidence because there is nothing to the contrary. So, in law, if you put that on the imaginary scale, it means what Obafunwa said outweighs every other evidence before the panel.”
Onigbanjo also debunked the allegations that the Judicial Panel of Inquiry made no reference to policemen nor took them into consideration.
“They (JPI) issued two reports. The report that leaked only dealt with the issues from the Lekki Toll Gate. There is another report which they issued which was not leaked; that report deals with all the EndSARS petitions that were about 253 in number and of the 253, policemen also brought their own petitions and in that report, the panel awarded a sum of about N36.2million to the policemen who were affected one way or the other by the protests.
“So to be fair to them, they did consider the plights of the policemen too. And even if you look at most of their recommendations, they are for better welfare for the police, better equipment, more training, psychological evaluations, so they took them into consideration,” he said.