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The Army in the statement titled ‘Press release on alleged massacre of protesters at Lekki toll gate’, signed by Osoba Olaniyi, a Major and the acting Deputy Director, 81 Division Army Public Relations, in reaction to the public outcry that followed the Lekki shooting said the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government after a 24 hours’ curfew was imposed.
It further stated that claims that soldiers shot at #EndSARS protesters were untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country, adding that soldiers acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement for Internal Security operations.
“The attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilians protesters were massacred by soldiers at Lekki toll plaza,” Olaniyi said.
“This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country. At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian.”
He argued that from the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos, were involved.
“However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government after a 24 hours curfew was imposed.”
Olaniyi added that the request to the Army to restore normalcy was “as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.”
“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.”
“The intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for internal security operations and all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement for Internal Security operations.”
“The 81 Division reiterated that its men never shot at civilians while discharging their duties, noting that there were “glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact.”
The ENDSAR protests in some parts of the country turned violent after soldiers allegedly shot at peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate on Tuesday, October 20.
The Lekki toll gate had been one of the rallying points for protesters in Lagos State.
Nigerians had gone to the street demanding an end to Police brutality and also called for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious Police unit accused of extrajudicial killings, extortions and torture.
The Army statement is coming one week after several calls from within and outside the country for a thorough investigation into what happened at the Lekki Tollgate.
Amnesty International, the human rights advocacy group, has said that at least 12 people were killed on Tuesday at both Alausa and Lekki toll gate, while Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, has continued to insist on two death from the shooting.
But the Army in the face of multiple evidence had continued to deny and insisted that it was not present at Lekki during the shooting, stating that the reports were fake.
A Forensic analysis report published by the Digital Forensic Research (DRF) Lab on Thursday of videos showing the shooting of protesters at the Lekki toll-gate area by soldiers on October 20 has shown them to be genuine.
Obianuju Catherine Udeh, a Nigerian Disc Jockey, professionally known as DJ Switch who had in an Instagram live video recounted her experience during the shooting, confirmed soldiers presence and further stating that at least 15 people were killed in the shootings and
She also said she and other survivors took the victims’ bodies to the soldiers who took them away.