DESPITE numerous testimonies, Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed has repeated false narratives about the brutal killings of unarmed protesters by personnel of the Nigerian Army in Lekki Toll Gate in October 2020.
The controversial minister reaffirmed his old rhetorics about the killings which had been widely investigated by media houses within and outside the country and found to be true.
At a press conference on Wednesday, he described the ongoing anniversary protest to mark the Lekki Toll Gate killings as a ‘phantom massacre.’
“Today marks the first anniversary of the phantom massacre at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, which was the culmination of an otherwise peaceful protest that was later hijacked by hoodlums,” the minister said.
“One year later, and despite ample opportunities for the families of those allegedly killed and those alleging a massacre to present evidence, there has been none: No bodies, no families, no convincing evidence, nothing. Where are the families of those who were reportedly killed at the toll gate? Did they show up at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry? If not, why?”
The minister said the military did not shoot at protesters, and that the only shooting “was in the social media, hence there were neither bodies nor blood.”
“The federal government remains proud of the security agencies for acting professionally and showing utmost restraint all through the EndSARS protest and the ensuing violence, an action that saved lives and properties,” he said.
“The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the Human Rights Organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre.”
Mohammed has always lied about the killings since they were first reported by the media in October 2020. He once described the killings as the first massacre in the world without blood or bodies.
A forensic investigation carried out by CNN investigation has revealed that operatives of the Nigerian Army shot #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate with live ammunition.
In the investigation published last November, CNN said it examined bullet casings found at the scene and confirmed with current and former Nigerian military sources that the bullet casings matched those used by the Army.
Two ballistics experts also confirmed with CNN that the shape of the bullet casings indicated. that they were live rounds, which contradicted the Army’s claim of firing blanks.
Also, working with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, CNN established that several of the bullets from the Lekki Toll Gate originated from Serbia. Export documents CNN saw showed that Nigeria purchased weaponry from Serbia almost every year between 2005 and 2016.
The investigation revealed that soldiers who carried out the operation were from Bonny Camp barracks, Victoria Island.
CNN, with the help of videos uploaded on social media, also traced families of some deceased who said they were still searching for the whereabouts of their loved ones.
In December 2020, 15 victims who suffered gunshot wounds at the Toll Gate stormed the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS-Related Abuses and Other Matters.
Fourteen of them were said to have been shot at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, after the announcement of curfew by Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu-Oluwhile one was said to have been shot at Ojodu Berger.
One of the people that visited the venue of the panel was Nathaniel Solomon, whose younger brother Abouta was said to have been shot dead at the Toll Gate. According to him, the deceased had since been buried in his hometown in Mubi Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
Another person was Aiyedun Olufunmi Grace, whose brother died at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) after suffering gunshot wounds on the head.
Grace told newsmen that after her brother’s death, the hospital authorities changed the story and said he died of COVID-19.
In its publication on Today (Wednesday), Amnesty International established that the Nigerian Army and Police killed at least 12 people on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Toll Gate and Alausa in Lagos.
The organisation said it was able to establish that pro-government supporters instigated violence at many of the demonstrations, providing cover for the Police to use lethal force against peaceful protesters.
The organisation also found that detained protesters were tortured and refused or denied immediate access to lawyers.