By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
“Where are the families of those who were reportedly killed at the toll gate? Did they show up at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry? If not, why?”
Exactly a year after a massacre was alleged to have occurred at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, no evidence has been provided to back up the claim, the Federal Government has said.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, who made this known during a press conference to mark the one year anniversary of #EndSARS on Wednesday, revealed that the federal government is yet to receive any evidence of the alleged killings by soldiers.
Persecondnews recalls that on October 20, 2020, about 6:50 p.m, soldiers were reported to have opened fire on peaceful #EndSARs protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.
According to Amnesty International, at least 12 protesters were killed even though the number is said to be higher, as there have been complaints of some missing persons.
Also, a live stream video by Nigerian Disc Jockey, DJ Switch, on her Instagram account, showed footages of the shooting of peaceful protesters by the Nigerian army and armed policemen.
DJ Switch clarified in a video made on October 23 that she witnessed the shooting of seven people at the time she was live-streaming on Instagram.
Also recalls that on November 18, 2020, a month after the incident, CNN aired a six-minute documentary on the shooting, and the independent investigation showed photographs of victims and eyewitness accounts, as well as the families of victims, alongside verified trended videos of the shooting using timestamps and data from video files.
CNN was able to establish that several of the bullet casings from the Lekki Toll Gate, originated from Serbia, from where Nigeria had imported bullets every year between 2005 and 2016.
In response, the Nigerian army insisted that its members were ‘professional in their conduct’ and did not breach rules of engagement.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, however accused CNN of ‘irresponsible journalism’ and described the documentary as fake news and disinformation.
However, one year after the incident, Mohammed maintained that the Nigerian Army did not shoot at the protesters who gathered at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.
He said: “One year later, and despite ample opportunities for the families of those allegedly killed and those alleging a massacre to present evidence, there has been none; No bodies, no families, no convincing evidence, nothing.
“Where are the families of those who were reportedly killed at the toll gate? Did they show up at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry? If not, why?
“Recall that after bandying different figures, Amnesty International finally settled at about 12 people killed. On its part, CNN went from 38 people killed to two to just one, after a supposed global exclusive even when the network had no reporter on ground at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th 2020.
“On Oct. 20th (2020), members of the security forces enforced curfew by firing shots into the air to disperse protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos to protest abusive practices by the Nigeria Police Force Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end. With the preponderance of evidence against any massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20th 2020, we are once again reiterating what we said one year ago; that the military did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20th 2020, and there was no massacre at the toll gate. The only ‘massacre’ recorded was in the social media, hence there were neither bodies nor blood.”
The minister disclosed that 11 out of 28 states that raised panels on the #ENDSARS protest across the country have submitted reports to the National Economic Council (NEC).
“All those indicted by the various judicial commissions will face trial,” Mohammed promised.