#EndSARS White Paper: Lagos govt says no massacre at Lekki tollgate

#EndSARS White Paper: Lagos govt says no massacre at Lekki tollgate
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (left), being presented with the report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry Report on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other matters by the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd) (right) while Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) (middle) watches on during the presentation of the panel report at Lagos House, Ikeja...recently

The Lagos State government has said the findings of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry that nine persons were killed at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, last year, is incorrect.

According to a white paper released Tuesday, the state government said the “finding of nine deaths at LTG on 20th October 2020 is even more baffling because apart from listing out their names in tabular form at pages 297-298, the JPI offered no explanation regarding the circumstances of their death.”

The government made this claim while reacting to the 24th recommendation of the panel that “a monument memorializing the lives lost and those injured at the Lekki Toll Gate with the names inscribed on the Monument,” be created.

In the white paper, the Lagos State government said the recommendation “is not acceptable.”

This, it stated, is due to the testimony of John Obafunwa, the chief pathologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), that “only three of the bodies that they conducted post-mortem examination on were from Lekki and only one had gunshot injury and this was not debunked.”

Aside from dismissing the findings that nine persons were killed, the government said it disagreed with the findings that hospitals treated victims of gunshot wounds from Lekki tollgate on the night of the shooting.

This is despite the numerous medical reports tendered to the judicial panel by hospitals who treated victims of gunshot injuries from the Lekki tollgate.

Several petitioners also narrated how they were shot at the tollgate, and showed wounds of gunshot injuries sustained to the panel, backed up by the medical reports tendered by the hospitals that treated them.

Hospitals such as Reddington Hospital, Vedic Life Healthcare, and Grandville Trauma Centre, confirmed that some patients were referred for amputation due to the severity of the gunshot injuries sustained.

Deaths, injuries irreconcilable –Govt
Reacting to the number of deaths recorded at the Lekki tollgate, the state government said there was no evidence.

“The names simply sprang up at pages 297-298 of the report without any justification. It is quite astonishing that in the list of 11 deaths set out at pages 297-298, two of the names appeared twice (Kolade Salami and Folorunsho Olabisi as Nos. 37 and 38),” the government said.

It also said that Nathaniel Solomon, who was listed as the 46th victim of the Lekki incident, testified as a witness and petitioned the panel in respect of his brother whom he alleged died at Lekki tollgate, but the petitioner himself was listed as having died at the tollgate on October 20, last year.

“The JPI’s finding of nine deaths is therefore irreconcilable with the evidence of Prof. Obafunwa that only one person died of ganshot wounds at 7:43pm at LTG on 21st October 2020.

“Having held that there was no evidence before it to the contrary of what Prof Obafunwa said. The question is where did the JPI then get its finding of nine deaths?

“The only victim of gunshot injury from LTG was picked up at 7:43pm on 21st October 2020 after the curfew commenced (see page 99). Furthermore, there was no sired of evidence regarding who shot him,” the government said.

‘Inconsistencies, contradictions’

The Lagos State government further pointed out that “another substantial inconsistency in the JPI Report was the award of compensation to the one out of the alleged nine, listed as ‘deceased’ which showed that the JPI itself had doubts as to the death of eight other allegedly deceased persons on its list.”

The government added that the panel “surprisingly” awarded the sum of N10 million to one Serah Ibrahim, who was neither a petitioner nor complainant before the panel.

“Serah Ibrahim testified on oath that she did not have any petition before the Panel; neither did she have any claims for compensation. This award to Serah Ibrahim is also contrary to the provisions of section 13 Tribunal of Inquiry Law 2015 (Cap. T6 Laws of Lagos State) which prescribes that only witnesses requested or summoned by a Tribunal of Inquiry are entitled to witness fees subject to consent of the Attorney General. Serah Ibrahim did not testify at the request or summons of the Tribunal.

“On the basis of the above fundamental inconsistencies in the findings of the JPI regarding the nine deaths at LTG and particularly because the findings are clearly and manifestly not supported by evidence.

“It also follows that the irresistible conclusion to be drawn from the JPI’s acceptance of Prof Obafunwa’s testimony that only one person died of gunshot wounds at LTG on 21 October 2020, is that there was no massacre at LTG, contextual or otherwise.

“The findings of the JPI that nine people died at the Lekki tollgate on 20th October 2020, from gunshots fired by the Military are based on assumptions and….”

The state added that the inconsistencies and contradictions in the panel’s report concerning deaths at Lekki Tollgate rendered the panel’s findings and conclusions “totally unreliable and therefore unacceptable.”