ENDSARS: FG Rubbished Report, Described It As “Triumph Of Fake News”

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In the last week, the media space was awash with the controversial leaked report on a purported Lekki Tollgate massacre. The Federal government yesterday made its position clear concerning the report where it described it as “Triumph of fake News” as the judicial Panel of Investigation on police brutality submitted their report to the Lagos State Government.

The panel championed by one retired Judge, Doris Okuwobi, had on Monday, November 15, 2021, submitted its report to the Governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the alleged Lekki Tollgate shooting of the Endsars protesters by the Nigerian Army during October last year.

The Federal Government while addressing newsmen through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the whole report was riddled with inconsistencies, speculations, innuendoes, and errors with no iota of evidence.

The Minister said, the Federal Government has not changed its earlier position concerning the incidence that there was no massacre at the Lekki Tollgate, saying why bereaved families of those purported to have been killed failed to come forward to demand reparation, even though the report was not signed by anybody.

Accordingly, legal luminaries and activists were divided over the quality of the report as one side said it has raised more questions than answers despite the team being a panel of inquiry, as others sad everything about the incident of #Endsars was stage-managed that has failed to withstand scrutiny.

However, the pro-activist are of the opinion that there was killing though could not be substantiated.

The Minister while addressing the press conference yesterday said, “Never in the history of any judicial panel in this country has its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendoes, omissions, and conclusions that are not supported by evidence.”

Mohammed punctured ten loopholes in the panel report which he said was loaded with the same allegation that they were constituted to investigate.

He chided the panel that, “Instead of sitting for all of one year, the panel could have just compiled social media ‘tales by the moonlight’ on the incident and submitted, saving taxpayers’ funds and everyone’s time.

That report is nothing but the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a vociferous lynch mob,”

The Minister queried that why should the report throw away the testimony of a ballistic expert who testified before the panel?

He continued that “The team finds that from the medical data examined, including the timeline of arrival at the medical facility and the nature of the injuries sustained by the victims, who were taken to the 5 medical facilities, that no military grade live ammunition (high-velocity) was fired at the protesters at Lekki Tollgate on 20 October 2020, within the timeframe of reference (18.30- 20.34hrs). 

“The same panel that said it deemed as credible the evidence of the Forensic Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, that only three of the bodies on which post mortem were conducted were from Lekki and only one had gunshot injury went on to contradict itself by saying nine persons died of gunshot wounds at Lekki! 

It did not occur to the panel to query the veracity of the testimony of a man who said he was shot and presumed dead but still had time to count dead bodies inside a supposedly dark van at night. 

“The panel was silent on the family members of those reportedly killed, merely insinuating they were afraid to testify. Even goats have owners who will look for them if they do not return home, not to talk of human beings. Where are the family members of those who were reportedly killed at Lekki Tollgate? If the panel is recommending compensation for the families, what are their identities and addresses? Who will receive the compensations when no family members have shown up to date? 

“How did a man who reported seeing the lifeless body of his brother himself end up being on the list of the panel’s deceased persons? 

“How can a judicial panel convince anyone that the names of some casualties of the Lekki Toll Gate incident listed as numbers 3 (Jide), 42 (Tola), and 43 (Wisdom) are not fictitious. 

The Minister wondered “Why did the judicial panel feel compelled to concoct a ‘’massacre in context’’ as a euphemism for ‘’massacre’’? A massacre is a massacre. What is ‘massacre in context?’’’ he asked. 

The minister also castigated the panel for ignoring other salient issues and instead expended its energy to achieve a premeditated goal. 

He disclosed that “We are saddened that anyone died at all during the EndSARS protest as the life of every Nigerian and indeed every human is sacrosanct. As we have disclosed many times, 57 civilians, 37 policemen, and six soldiers were killed across the country during the protest, and we commiserate with their families,” he said. 

He said for the federal government to change its stand, a “well-investigated report of the incident that meets all required standards and will withstand every scrutiny must be produced and presented to the public. The report in circulation does not meet those requirements.” 
 
However, the Lagos state government on their side when contacted to respond to the unsigned leaked report versus the position of the federal government, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, the commissioner of Information said the government has taken note of all the reactions over the report, but revealed that the state government would make its position known through a white paper to be released soon. 

Meanwhile, Omotosho revealed that the state government has set up another panel to bring forth a white paper that will inform their next line of action. 

Reacting to the report, Olalekan Ojo, A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said from a legal point of view, the Federal government is not obliged to findings and recommendations of the Lagos state Panel of Enquiry. Saying though the position of the Minister could be his personal opinion.