•Panel legally constituted —Sanwo-Olu
•Says leaked report opened old wounds, keeps mum on White Paper
•Invites Falz, Seun Kuti, Mr. Macaroni, others for talks
•As Falz, Macaroni decline gov’s invitation
By Dapo Akinrefon & Olasunkanmi Akoni
THE Lagos State government, yesterday, released a White Paper on the report of the panel on Police Brutality and Lekki Tollgate killings, rejecting key recommendations of the report.
Of the 32 recommendations made by the panel, the government accepted only 11.
One of the key recommendations it rejected include the Lekki shootings which resulted in death and injuries.
On Lekkit Tollgate shootings, the White Paper stated: “The findings are clearly and manifestly not supported by the evidence before the JPI as attested to by the JPI itself, when it said there was contrary evidence to that of Prof. John Obafunwa that only one person died of gunshot wounds at LTG on October 21, 2020.
“Government is, therefore, unable to accept the finding that nine people died of gunshot wounds at LTG on October 20, 2020.
“It also follows that the irresistible conclusion to be drawn from the JPI’s acceptance of Prof Obafuawa’s testimony that only one person died of gunshot wounds at LTG on October 21, 2020, is that there was no massacre at LTG, contextual or otherwise.
“The findings of the JPI that nine people died at LTG on October 20, 2020, from gunshots fired by the military are based on assumptions and permutations.
“The inconsistencies and contradictions in the entire JPI Report concerning the number of persons who died at LTG on October 20, 2020, and the cause of their death rendered the JPI’s findings unacceptable and conclusively, their recommendation is totally unreliable and therefore unacceptable.”
On sanctions for security agents involved in the Lekki tollgate shootings, the White Paper stated: “The Nigerian Army is an organization that has its disciplinary procedures and processes as set down by law, over which Lagos State has no control. Nevertheless, Lagos State government will forward this recommendation to appropriate authorities for their consideration and action.”
On the release of those arrested during the EndSARS protest, as recommended by the panel, the White Paper stated: “The issue of grant of bail is a matter within the exclusive preserve of the judiciary, Lagos State government, however, notes the recommendation.”
The White Paper rejected the immortalization of those who died on October 20, 2020, as recommended by the panel, sayingthe state government does not have the powers to declare any day a National Day. It also contended that only the Federal Government had the power to do so.
The White Paper, however, accepted the recommendation that on October 20 of every year, the Lekki tollgate should be toll-free to motorists.
On the issue of setting up a special trust fund to compensate EndSARS victims, the White Paper accepted the recommendation, saying it will be forwarded to the Federal Government and the National Executive Council, NEC.
On the panel’s recommendations that the Lekki Tollgate plaza be made a memorial site for END SARS by renaming it ENDSARS tollgate, the White Paper said it would rather designate a park in the state and name it Peace Park to serve as a reminder to citizens of the state of the peaceful protest all over the state against abuse of human rights.”
Panel legally constituted—Sanwo-Olu
Earlier, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had insisted that the panel set up to address issues of police brutality and Lekki tollgate killings in Lagos were legally constituted, saying the leaked panel report was unauthorised.
Minister of State for Labour, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, had while appearing on a private television station on Sunday, said the #EmdSARS panels across the country were illegal.
The governor also disclosed plans to organise a historic peace walk in December as part of measures to the healing of the state in particular and the country in general.
Sanwo-Olu, who disclosed this while addressing newsmen on the outcome of Lekki Toll Gate panel report, at state House, Alausa, Ikeja, specifically, invited Folarin Falana (Falz), Debo Adebayo (Mr. Marcaroni), Dele Farotimi, Temitope Majekodunmi, Segun Awosanya (Segalinks), Adedotun (Just Detoun), Seun Kuti, Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu; and Commander of Rapid Response Squad, RRS, CSP Yinka Egbeyemi, among others, to join him in the march.
He said: “It is with a great sense of responsibility that I address you today (yesterday) on the reactions that have trailed the release of the #EndSARS Judicial Panel of Inquiry Report submitted to me two weeks ago, and how it has played out in public discourse since then.
“I believe and have always been vocal about this that we owe it to you, the people of Lagos, to constantly speak and engage with you.
“In easy times, in difficult circumstances, we will never shy away from making our case to you, while also ensuring that we listen to you.
“I will start by saying that we, as an administration, are determined that the next steps that will be taken in this process of coming to terms with the events of October 2020, must bring closure to a painful episode in the history of our state, with the release of the White Paper later today (yesterday)
“This, in my view, is a moment that beckons us to define who and what we are as a people.
“To be a Centre of Excellence, we must be a Centre of Truth. To be a smart city, we first must be just one. To be a prosperous state, we must establish ourselves as a peaceful entity. And to achieve the Greater Lagos of our dreams we must learn to live in harmony, even amidst inevitable disagreement.
“In times like these, with anger and animosity too quick and fast at hand, it is easy to hide behind our prejudices, treating them as deeper truths, instead of the superficial lies they are.
“It is far too easy to take sides and choose emotion over fact, even when the truth is to be found in shades of nuance. It is easy to choose darkness over light; to take perverse delight in playing unhelpful games of cynicism and suspicion; to cling to beliefs that do not carry the weight of verifiable evidence.
“To become a champion of prejudice is to own a fleeting and false victory. It is a victory of rancour over reason, of vengeance over justice, of anger over compassion.
“Today, I stand before you to declare that I reject this path; and I invite you all to do same.
“I rejected to be part of the controversy, disharmony caused by the unauthorised leaked panel report.
“The choice confronting us today is between restoring greater harmony or doing greater harm. I choose harmony over harm. As your governor, it is my task to explain why all Lagosians should join me on this path that promises a more beneficial future.
Falz, Macaroni decline gov’s invitation
Meanwhile, Falz has declined the governor’s invitations to a peace walk, describing it as a joke and a very disrespectful one.
Similarly, popular comedian and skit maker, Debo Adebayo, fondly called Mr. Macaroni, also said the governor should implement the recommendations of the panel on police brutality than look for celebrities to bring into peace walks.
Speaking on his Facebook page, Macaroni said: “I humbly decline the invitation of Mr Governor. The government itself set up a panel. The panel has made recommendations. I believe genuine peacemaking will begin by first implementing the recommendations of the panel. Then we can begin to trust the government.
“Mr Governor has said it in his speech. That to be a Center of Excellence, we have to be a Center of Truth. Before there can be healing, the government has to be sincere. There must be acceptance of wrongdoings and willingness to correct them.”