By Onozure Dania
The Management of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) yesterday told the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS and Related Abuses and Other Matters that the footage of the Oct 20 shootings of the #EndSARS protesters by officers of the Nigerian Army was available.
This is just as five bullet shell casings were found by the panel at the scene of the shooting. The panel later visited Ikoyi Military Hospital mortuary, controlled by 65 Battalion, to inspect it following an intelligence information that the facility could help the panel in the investigation of the shooting of the protesters
At the visit to the toll gate scene, the nine-man Judicial Panel headed by Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd) saw the bullet shell casings as part of its investigations into the incident. Also in attendance were Mr Abayomi Omomuwa, the Managing Director of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) and Mr Gbolahan Agboluwaje, the Head of the Legal Department of LCC as well as newsmen.
Some five bullet casings were seen on the floor, inside the drainage and the stairs of the Tollgate plaza by people present there.
Omomuwa, during the visit, told the panel that the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras mounted on a mast at the toll gate area was working during the shootings. He, however, noted that though the footage of the happenings of October 20 had been captured by the CCTV, it was currently not working due to damage caused by hoodlums during the carnage of Oct. 21.
On the panel’s return to the venue of its proceedings, Justice Okuwobi said that the panel had made observations and had asked questions at the scene.
She also noted that the panel had not admitted the Oct. 20 footage as evidence and when it is admitted in evidence, it will be played at the proceedings.
On the Panel’s visit to the Military Hospital, military personnel had initially denied the panel members and newsmen access to the medical facility unless a directive came from the higher authorities. After about thirty minutes of keeping members of the panel waiting outside the hospital, they were later allowed inside and taken round one of the newly renovated buildings in the premises.
A member of the panel, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa SAN, said they were at the Military hospital, not just on the authority of the governor of Lagos state, but also that of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Adegboruwa said, “you will recall that it was the National Executive Council NEC, that gave the directive that this panel should be set up, so we are only following due process and it’s good that we just inspect the mortuary to make our findings before going back to make our relevant conclusions”.
He said this while the panel was waiting for the military to allow them access into their facility.
When asked what the panel would do if the military still refused to allow them access, he said, “we would take up other options, there are other options open to us, if we are not allowed access, we can’t force ourselves on them, if they don’t allow us access we would go back and take other options.
Adegboruwa further said that they had confidential information that facilities at the Military hospital in Ikoyi, may be relevant to their investigation.
“We have confidential information that facilities at the Military Hospital in Ikoyi here may be relevant to our investigation, we have a pathologist with us and our interest is to inspect the hospital’s mortuary, we don’t know what we would find there.
“The visit to the Military hospital absolutely has something to do with the Lekki event of the 20th of October 2020, and like I said, we have no conclusion in our minds as to what we would find here. But we have intelligence to the extent that our work requires that we inspect the mortuary of the military hospital of here.
“As you have heard them say this hospital is controlled by 65 battalion and we have also taken steps to be able to reach the authorities of the 65 battalions and the 82 division on Kofo Abayomi, so we have options if we are not allowed access.” Adegboruwa said.
When asked if it was possible to inform the authorities ahead of time next time, Adegboruwa said “that would have defeated our purpose, we just got the information impromptu, we could not give them notice because of the importance of what we wanted to do, it is an investigation, if we give them notice ahead of time, that may jeopardise the essence of the investigation
“We have no conclusion that there is anything amiss, it is an intelligence that is leading us to investigation, so we really don’t have any evidence to say whether there is anything or not, our own is verification through investigation.”
Meanwhile, at the resumed proceedings of the panel yesterday, the head of the legal department of LCC, Mr Gbolahan Agboluwaje told the panel that they had no legal representation as they got the letter of invitation from the panel late on Wednesday.
He said “when we received the letter on Wednesday we discovered that three things were required, which are the footage, the investigation report and any other document. We have the footage, we have not done the investigation report and we don’t have other documents”.
Agboluwaje then asked for an adjournment to enable them get a legal representation as they couldn’t get any since they got the letter late on Wednesday.
“We would be happy if we are given time to get a legal representation, we got a very short notice” he said.
When the Chairman of the panel Justice Okuwobi asked if they had the footage, Agboluwaje said ‘Yes we are prepared to show the footage.”
Mr Abiodun Owonikoko SAN, also announced his appearance at the proceedings to represent Lagos State government. He said, “I have the instructions to represent the Lagos state government in this proceeding.”
Justice Okuwobi said: “Until he (Agboluwaje) is represented by a counsel, we would not take his testimony, no person would be denied having any legal representation of his choice, but they should bear in mind the terms of reference of this panel”.
The proceeding was thereafter adjourned till Tuesday.
Members of the Panel are Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd), Chairman of the panel, Rinu Oduala, Temitope Majekodunmi, other members of the panel are Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Director, Lagos State Directorate of Citizen’s Rights, Mrs Oluwatoyin Odusanya; a representative of the civil society groups Ms Patience Udoh, and a human rights activist, Lucas Koyejo the Zonal Coordinator (South-West Zone) – National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Mr Segun Awosanya (Segalink).