By Evelyn Usman
The Nigerian Army finally broke its silence on the Lekki Tollgate shootings in Lagos, exonerating its men from shooting at the #EndSARS protesters last Tuesday.
Rather, it described the allegation of killing of protesters by soldiers as unfounded, attributing it to the handiwork of mischief-makers.
Recall that the protest took a violent twist after soldiers reportedly stormed the toll plaza, turned off the light and allegedly fired sporadically at the protesters.
However, the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Victoria Island, Lagos, where the soldiers were deployed from, declared that its personnel never opened fire on the protesters.
In a statement by the Acting Deputy Director, 81 Division Army Public Relations, Major Osoba Olaniyi, the Division explained that the intervention of the soldiers was on the request of the Lagos State Government.
The statement read: “The attention of Headquarters 81 Division of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilians protesters were massacred by soldiers at the Lekki Toll plaza.
“This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country. At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian.
“From the onset of the EndSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army, Lagos was involved.
“However, the decision to call in the Military was taken by the Lagos State Government after a 24-hour curfew was imposed. This was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.
“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that Lagos State Government requested the Military to intervene, in order to restore normalcy.
“The intervention of the Military followed all laid down procedures for internal security operations. And all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement, ROE for internal security operations.
“Finally, headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army reiterates that the Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities did not shoot at any civilian as there are glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact.
“This allegation is the handwork of mischief makers who will stop at nothing to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Army. The general public is hereby enjoined to discountenance this allegation, as there is no iota of truth therein.”