The Lagos State judicial panel on restitution for victims of SARS related abuses and other matters was told on Tuesday by a UK based security consultant and forensic expert that the military did not fire live high velocity ammunition at EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate.
Testifying at the panel via zoom, the forensic expert Willie-Harry who is the Director and senior consultant of Oxygene consulting UK limited, stated that his organization was engaged by the Lagos State government to conduct a forensic and ballistic investigation of the Lekki tollgate incident of October 20th 2020.
He said the conclusion that the military did not fire live high velocity projectiles at EndSARS protesters on the said day was due to the obtained medical data of the victims who were admitted and treated at five medical centres, the time of arrival and the nature of injuries sustained.
Willie-Harry also stated that four of the victims who sustained gunshot injuries were discovered to be projectiles from low velocity firearm which is not associated with the military or any of the security agencies.
He said the low velocity projectiles from which the four identified patients were treated for are common with locally produced firearms
However Mr. Tonye Willie-Harry admitted that his team during the course of investigation were unable to ascertain how, by whom, where and when the gun shot injuries were sustained by the victims which might not be unconnected to the breakdown of law and order on the 20th October 2020 in the state, including at the tollgate.
The witness said the rifles shown as being carried by men in military gear who were at the Lekki tollgate protest ground from footages and videos obtained were Russian made Kalashnikov AK 47 rifles and that if the rifles had been shot with live bullets at protesters, that the damage would have been catastrophic because an AK 47 rifles when fired within a range of 50-100 meters has the capacity to kill 2-3 persons or more at a single shot.
When asked under cross examination to authenticate his assurance that the military didn’t fire live ammunition at the EndSARS protesters but rather fired blank bullets into the skies with images of muzzle flashes, the witness affirmed that by his training and that of his team members, he was 99.999% sure from his investigation that the bullets fired by the military were blank bullets.
In the media report presentation of the investigation, the witness also explained that the videos and footages alledged to be massacre of EndSARS protesters were not reflective of the reality as they were misleading and inaccurate representation of the fact.
Mr. Tonye Willie-Harry particularly quarreled with the video of the CNN report which he stated was a huge disappointment of an organization of that calibre, just as he picked holes in the media reportage and footages of BBC, Channels TV and DW which a Fisayo Soyombo Centre for investigative Journalism relied on to present his report.
However, the witness admitted that the time line between when the incident occurred and when his organization embarked on the investigation was one which would not have allowed for facts and materials relevant to the investigation to be preserved as they were like to have been lost and some victims injuries healed or some victims absconding from accessing treatment from where they could be monitored.
Mr. Tonye Willie-Harry also affirmed that in a normal situation when incident of such occur, it is appropriate to preserve the scene, but that this was not done and it affected his investigation that he had to rely on only what he was able get and presented with. The witness said the investigation of the Lekki tollgate incident was conducted by his organization in December 2020 and the report compiled in February 2021 and submitted.
The witness was then discharged at the end of the cross examination by all the counsels and the panel adjourned sitting for the day.