• Govt accepts 11 recommendations

  • Campaigners reject Sanwo-Olu’s overtures

The Lagos State Government has rejected the claim by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters that nine persons were killed at Lekki Tollgate when soldiers stormed the epicentre of the #ENDSARS protest on October 20, 2020.

The government in its White Paper on the report by the panel described the claim that nine persons were shot and killed at the Tollgate as “Assumptions and speculations”.

The government said it accepted 11 out of the 32 recommendations by the panel while stating that 14 other recommendations outside the control of the state would be forwarded to the federal government for consideration. 

The panel, which was inaugurated last year, submitted its report to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu two weeks ago.

In a leaked version of the report, which went viral, the panel said nine persons were killed at the Tollgate, urging the government to apologise to the protesters and rename the plaza.

The 8-man panel was chaired by a former Administrative Judge of the Lagos State Judiciary, Justice Doris Tomilayo Okuwobi. 

Members of the panel included a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Fredrick Taiwo Lakanu, activist Segun ‘Segalink’ Awosanya and Director, Lagos Citizens Mediation Centre, Oluwatoyin Odusanya. Others were Patience Udo, Lucas Koyejo and Majekodunmi Oluwaseun, a youth representative.

The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had rubbished the report and recommendations of the panel which he tagged, “Tales by Moonlight”.

President Muhammadu Buhari on his part said he was waiting for the white paper by Lagos State government.

‘Panel’s findings baffling’

However, in the White Paper released last night, the Sanwo-Olu-led government said that the claim that nine dead bodies were recovered at Lekki Tollgate on October 20 was baffling because apart from listing out their names in tab form at pages 297-298, the panel offered no explanation regarding circumstances of their death.

“The findings of the panel that nine (9) people died at Lekki Tollgate on 20th October 2020 from gunshots fired by the military are based on assumptions and speculations,” it said.

The White paper highlighted that there were inconsistencies in the report by the panel, arguing that the only victim of gunshot injury from Lekki Tollgate was picked up at 7:43pm on 21 October 2020 after the curfew commenced.

“The inconsistencies and contradictions in the entire JPI Report concerning the number of persons who died at LTG on 20 October 2020 and their cause of death rendered the JPI’s findings and conclusions thereon as totally unreliable and therefore unacceptable,” it added.

On some other recommendations, the state government said it had no control over the internal affairs of the Nigeria Police Force, adding that the recommendation will therefore be forwarded to the appropriate authorities namely the Federal Government of Nigeria, National Economic Council, Police Service Commission and Nigeria Police Force.

It also said that it would set up a separate state-wide Helpline for human rights abuses in addition to its existing Emergency Toll-Free (767 & 112) Helplines, assuring that the recommendation will also be forwarded to National Economic Council.

On reported police brutality, the government said that out of the 22 recommendations, it would only accept four and forward 18 recommendations to the federal government. It added that out of the 18, three recommendations overlap which it has also accepted. 

It, however, added that it lacked the powers to investigate and fish out police officers as recommended by the panel at pages 249-254 of the report. 

#EndSARS frontliners kick

Meanwhile, #ENDSARS frontliners have rejected the invitation by Governor Sanwo-Olu for a ‘Peace walk in Lagos’. 

The governor, during a state-wide broadcast before the release of the White Paper, yesterday, called on #EndSARS frontliners and other stakeholders to join him in a peace walk in December as part of measures aimed at reconciliation and achieving “true healing” after the disturbances that trailed last year’s protests.

The governor invited Folarin Falana Falz),  Debo Adebayo (r Macaroni, Dele Farotimi, Temitope Majekodunmi, Segun Awosanya (Segalink), Adedotun (Just Detoun), Seun Kuti; Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu; and Commander of Rapid Response Squad CSP Yinka Egbeyemi and others to join him in the “historic march for our dear Lagos.”

However, the frontliners said there could not be a peace walk without justice.

“The implementation of the panel’s report is a ‘Sacred Duty’ which must be upheld and the only walk required at this time is a ‘Walk of Truth’ which he equally attributed to in his speech. For Truth and Reconciliation to occur, there must be a willingness to seek forgiveness while apologizing to the victims and their families.

“Anything short of this is a mere attempt to ‘gaslight’ the public and young Nigerians on the horrific events that took place at the Lekki Tollgate on 20:10:20,” the group noted in a statement last night. 

Some of the celebrities the governor invited for the walk have also rejected the invitation, demanding for justice instead. 

Falz, Mr. Macaroni and Seun Kuti, son of Afro-beat legend Fela, who took part in the protest have all rejected the invitation.   

“This suggestion of a ‘walk for peace’ sounds like a joke and a very disrespectful one at that. People were murdered in cold blood and absolutely no iota of justice has been served more than a year after.  How can there be peace without justice? #EndSARS,” Falz