BABAJIDE Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Lagos State has maintained that there is no record of death after soldiers believed to be from the Nigerian Army opened fire at #EndSARS protesters singing the national anthem and waving the Nigerian flag Tuesday evening at the Lekki Toll Gate Plaza.
“As at the time of the broadcast, we didn’t have any confirmed deaths from that unfortunate incident at Lekki Toll Plaza,” Sanwo-Olu said Thursday morning during an interview on Arise television.
“Thereafter, at about 11pm, I shared a tweet, where we said that there was a dead body that was brought to a hospital in Lekki and from the preliminary investigation it wasn’t due to any gunshot.”
“Based on reports from the morgues. We visited all the morgues around Lagos and these two incidents explained, I do not have any confirmed evidence of deaths from that (Lekki Toll Gate) incident,” he added.
The international rights group, Amnesty International (AI) has said that its on-ground investigation showed that over a dozen protesters were killed.
“An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International has confirmed that the Nigerian Army and Police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters yesterday at two locations in Lagos. Killings took place in Lekki and Alausa, where thousands were protesting police brutality,” the group posted on its Twitter page.
The Lagos State Governor also said he didn’t know who ordered the deployment of the soldiers who opened fire at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate Plaza, adding that he can’t explain who gave the orders.
“The event that happened at 7 pm came as a total shock to me and those around me. The instructions were that the police shouldn’t be out until 10 to 11 pm. I can’t explain who gave orders to the military,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Earlier, Sanwo-Olu had said forces beyond his control were to be blamed for the murder of #EndSARS protesters by government forces.
“This is the toughest night of our lives as forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history, but we will face it and come out stronger,” a post on Sanwo-Olu’s official Twitter page shared around 4 am on Wednesday read in part.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army had denied having any of its men at the area of the shootings. In a tweet on its official Twitter page, the Nigerian Army tagged evidence of soldiers shooting at unarmed protesters in Lekki toll gate as ‘fake news’.
However, Bertram Hill, an open-source intelligence journalist with BBC, shared a video of military men shooting at protesters, disclosing the coordinates and exact location of where the clip was captured.
“Here’s the clearest view I’ve seen thus far of some of the gunfire at Lekki Tollgate. In this footage, men in camo uniform fire their weapons at: 6.435886, 3.447423, 15m from the East side of the toll gate. Some of the #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigera protestors had sat down,” his tweet read.
Many clips of the happenings at Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday have been shared on social media including a viral photo of a yet-to-be-identified man removing cameras after what seemed to have been an uninstallation – a move Amnesty International said was to conceal evidence.
Defending the photo, Sanwo-Olu said: “Nobody ordered the removal of cameras at the Lekki tollgate. The MD of LCC said because of the curfew, they made the decision to take out installations. The cameras you saw are not security or motion cameras, they are laser cameras for vehicles.”
Protesters also reported that lights around the Lekki Toll Plaza were cut out, rendering the area dark before gunshots were fired.
Many have questioned the power outage at Lekki Toll Plaza at the time of the gunfire.
The Lekki Concession Company (LCC), set up to execute the Eti-Osa Lekki Toll Road Concession project in a statement disclosed that it receives power from an Independent Power Plant (IPP). LCC said that the curfew hindered the restoration of power when it went off.
“LCC receives power from the IPP grid, the power albeit stable is taken off from time to time. At such times, LCC relies on the backup generators for power supply, however, following the declaration of the curfew by the state governor LCC withdrew all her staff from the office locations.
“This is the reason why the lights could not be restored when the mains from IPP went off temporarily. This is verifiable,” the statement read in part.