By Chinelo Obogo, John Adams, Minna and Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
A youth representative at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution at the Lagos Court of Arbitration, Temitope Majekodunmi, has confirmed the findings, summary and recommendations in the leaked report as authentic.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu, had last year set up the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Related Abuses and other matters to probe the EndSARS protest at Lekki toll gate, Lagos. The panel submitted the original report of its findings to Governor Sanwo-Olu last Monday.
Majekodun said they were surprised that while they were at the Government House in Alausa, a leaked report had already begun circulating online.
In the report, the Army was accused of having “shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenceless 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.”
However, Majekodunmi said besides some typographical errors, the findings, recommendations and summary in the leaked report were the same as contained in the original which was submitted to Governor Sanwo-Olu.
“Beyond the mistakes that can be identified in the leaked reports, the facts are not changing. We want those who should be prosecuted, be prosecuted, in that way, it restores confidence in the system and brings back the hope of the youths in this country. The facts and recommendations in the leaked report are not changing, that is why I said the content of the original and the leaked report are not far apart from each other. The leaked report and the original report have the same recommendations and findings to the best of my knowledge. In the original, we had reasons to vet, so most of the typological errors in the leaked report would not be found in the original but I can confirm the findings, recommendations and executive summary are the same.
“The report speaks to the level of independence and how we did it without bias. I said there are no two reports and the context in which I said it is in respect to the Lekki toll gate investigation. However, there are two standard reports, one in respect to the primary assignment itself which is the Lekki report and the other is the investigation of police brutality in general. It is important for us to wait for the government to release the original report. We give kudos to the Lagos State government because it made all the resources available for the panel,” Majekodunmi said.
Also speaking during the interview, Femi Okunnu (SAN) advised Governor Sanwo-Olu to release the entire report to the public and make sure it is not doctored. He also urged the public to be patient with the government while it works on its white paper.
“Let us wait for the government’s copy duly signed by the panel, which would be the authentic report. The government cannot hide it because members of the panel have their own signed copies, so the report should be published, warts and all. Whether the report criticised the federal or state government, it should be published in full,” Okunnu said.
However, former commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger State, Jonathan Vatsa, has asked Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to resign and apologise to Nigerians for saying nobody was killed during the EndSARS protest at the Lekki toll gate.
He said if he refused to resign, President Muhammadu Buhari should sack him to redeem the image of his administration within and outside Nigeria.
The former commissioner, who added his voice to the growing condemnation of the minister for the role he played during the EndSARS protest which resulted in the Lekki toll gate shooting of innocent young Nigerians, in a statement in Minna, entitled, “When will our leaders follow the path of honour,” insisted the most honourable thing to do in this circumstance is for the minister to tender his letter of resignation.
“By so doing, the blood of innocent young, armless Nigerians who were shot by security agents while carrying Nigeria flags and singing the country National Anthem will have peace with him.”
According to the former publicity secretary of APC, Mohammed at his age told the world that no single fly was killed during the shooting at Lekki toll gate, adding that “but with this panel report, it is obvious that uncountable young, vibrant and promising Nigerians were massacre on that night.”
Similarly, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lucky Irabor, came under fire over his comments on the report.
Irabor had defended the Nigerian Army and cautioned Nigerians on disparaging the military.
But the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) (Pyrates Confraternity) scolded Irabor over his comments, noting that the Nigerian Army was yet to come to terms with the ignoble role of its men in the Lekki toll gate massacre.
The NAS Capoon, Abiola Owoaje, in a statement entitled: “Lekki Toll gate Massacre: Truth Unmasked,” described Irabor’s comments as insensitive.
“Irabor’s statement against the backdrop of the panel’s report is saddening, highly provocative and insensitive. He should be bothered that under his watch, men of the Nigerian Army opened fire on a peaceful assembly of Nigerian youths and thereafter disgracefully attempted to cover-up,” he said.
Owoaje, who commended the judicial panel “for its uncompromising stance on the side of justice to uncover the truth for prosperity without fear or favour,” urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ensure the independence of the four-man committee, led by the Attorney General of the state, Moyosore Onigbanjo, to produce a white paper that would reflect the panel’s recommendations.
While recalling the false narratives, bullying of local and international media spearheaded by the Federal Government in the desperate attempt to bury the truth, he stressed that those indicated must be prosecuted.