THE submission of the 309-page Report of the Justice Doris Okuwobi-led Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the Restitution for Victims of SARS-related Abuses and Other Matters last Monday was a demonstration of the good faith which the Lagos State Government, LASG, adopted to unravel what really happened at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020.
On that fateful day, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, requested the intervention of the Nigerian Army to quell the #EndSARS protests after appeals to the organisers to end their prolonged gathering fell on deaf ears.
The world watched live as the Army went on a shooting spree at the protesters who were chanting the national anthem and waving the flag to reaffirm the peaceful and patriotic nature of the protest.
After the horrifying incident, the Federal Government, through the Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, insisted there was no “massacre” and went on a warpath with the media for reporting otherwise.
With the Report, it is now established that nine persons were murdered in cold blood by the Army, four remain missing over one year after, while 48 names were classified as “casualties” of the Lekki Tollgate “massacre”.
Also, 96 other corpses were recovered from various other locations in Lagos during the protest and ensuing orgy of burning and looting by hoodlums. The Lekki Toll Gate massacre thus joins similar mass killings of unarmed civilians under this administration. Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky’s Islamic Movement in Nigeria (the Shiites) was attacked in Zaria in December 2015, with 348 persons killed, while another 150 Biafra agitators were massacred in Aba, according to Amnesty International’s investigations published in November 2016.
All these happened under the command of former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, who is now an Ambassador.
Though Governor Sanwo-Olu invited the Army when hired thugs failed to disperse the protesters, he still demonstrated courage and goodwill in allowing the Judicial Panel a free hand to unravel the truth and put those seeking to suppress it to shame. We congratulate Justice Okuwobi and her co-panelists for their courage and patriotism.
We call on the Lagos State Government to faithfully implement the panel’s recommendations to achieve the purpose of restitution for which it was established.
The Federal and Lagos State Governments should be reminded that the eyes of the world – particularly United Nations and its organ, the International Criminal Court, ICC, other members of the global society and activist organisations – are on this matter. There will be consequences for all those involved in the cold-blooded massacres of unarmed agitators at Lekki and elsewhere.
Once again, we call for the demolition of the Lekki Toll Gate and the erection of a national monument on that site. Further collection of tolls from that plaza amounts to blood money.