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Fact-Check: Lai Mohammed’s claims on Lekki Toll Gate shooting are false

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IN Nigeria, a memorial was held on the anniversary of what has come to be known as ‘the 2020 Lekki Shooting.’

The incident happened when security forces came to dispel a protest, christened #EndSARS, primarily championed by the youth against Police brutality.

In Abuja, the memorial was held at Unity Fountain where they marched towards the National Assembly Complex, while in Lagos the protesters drove through the Lekki Toll Gate.

However, on the same day, Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed held a press conference where he made numerous claims about the Lekki Toll Gate incident.

The FactCheckHub verified these claims.

Claim 1:

The military did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20 2020.

The minister, during his speech made on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, stated that the military did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate.

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He said, “With the preponderance of evidence against any massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th 2020, we are once again reiterating what we said one year ago, that: The military did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th 2020.”

FINDINGS show that the military men actually shot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct.20, 2020, according to multiple media reports from both local and international media.

For instance, the BBC stated that the military men were shooting into the air where the protesters were gathered on the said day.

“Before we left the scene, they [military] were shooting into the air and while we were trying to find a safe cover, I saw a young man who seemed to be struggling for breath.

“I think what must have caused his situation must have been the sudden shock of the sporadic shooting from the military and of course the environment was tense.

“The shooting continued for about 20 minutes and we had to lie on our chests and move away from the crowd because of the high risk of stampede. My editor had to approach one of the soldiers to identify us as journalists before they allowed us a safe pass. We could only do that after about 20- 25 minutes of continuous shooting,” the report read in part.

Similarly, the protesters, who were present at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, told the CNN that the military men shot at them while at the protest ground.

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For instance, a woman, who also lost her son to the shootings, stated that the son, after being shot by the military men at the Lekki Toll Gate, died in her arm.

Also, the viral video of soldiers shooting at the protesters was captured by a popular Nigerian disk jocker (DJ) switch, which was shown live on her Instagram handle on that day. The video was also featured in a report here by Channels Television.

Also, a former spokesman of the Nigerian Army Sani Usman, said that the soldiers fired blank bullets at the Lekki Toll Gate where the protesters were present. He clarified that the soldiers shot blank bullets and not live ammunition.

THE VERDICT: The claim is FALSE. Multiple reports show that the military shot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20 2020.

Claim 2:

There were neither bodies nor blood from Lekki Toll Gate incident

The minister in his speech also said “…And there was no massacre at the toll gate. The only ‘massacre’ recorded was in the social media, hence there were neither bodies nor blood.”

FINDINGS show that some protesters sustained injuries and some died. This was reported by both indigenous and foreign media.

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Investigative journalist Fisayo Soyombo, in a three-part series, revealed names and faces of some of the dead. He also documented those that sustained injuries at the October 20, 2020, incident.

Similarly, CNN reported with graphic imagery of injury and death from the incident.

Also, Chief Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) John Obafunwa, told the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up in Lagos State that 99 people, who were killed in Lagos during the #EndSARS protest, had their bodies deposited at a morgue in the state.

He said that autopsies were done on the 99 dead bodies which were brought to the morgues between October 19 and 24, 2020, adding that three of the bodies were recovered from the Lekki Toll Gate shootings.

Furthermore, the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in an interview here and here, admitted that two people were killed in the Lekki shootings.

THE VERDICT: The claim is FALSE. Multiple reports show that people died and some others sustained injuries from the Lekki Toll Gate incident.

'Niyi works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] You can as well follow him on Twitter via @niyi_oyedeji.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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