Thursday, May 30, 2024

#LekkiMassacre: Why soldiers fired live rounds at Lekki Toll Gate: Army General

The witness has continued to present contradictory accounts of what transpired at Lekki Toll Gate.

• November 22, 2020
The Lagos panel of inquiry on #EndSARS. [CREDIT: Bella Naija]
The Lagos panel of inquiry on #EndSARS. [CREDIT: Bella Naija]

A military witness, Brigadier-General Ahmed Taiwo, on Saturday said the Nigerian Army commander Lieutenant-Colonel S.O. Bello told him that his men fired shots at Lekki Toll Gate because they were attacked by hoodlums when they arrived there.

Mr. Taiwo made the revelation while being cross-examined at the Lagos State  Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters on Saturday.

He said that Mr. Bello was the commanding officer of the 65 Battalion which was at the Lekki Toll Gate on the evening of October 20.

The military general said that Mr. Bello who was the commander on ground had given the order for the soldiers to shoot in the air.

Mr. Taiwo said that he had contacted Mr. Bello when he was seeing conflicting reports about the shootings at the Toll Gate on social media, the Internet and other sources.

He said: “On the internet, we were seeing videos being streamed of shooting and of people screaming that they are killing us and videos to that effect.

“When the initial first report came, I dismissed it with a wave of the hand because to me nobody sent anybody to the tollgate, I knew that people were to be dispersed along the Eti-Osa corridor.

“When I called Bello he said that while they were being deployed, they were attacked by hoodlums and they released some shots into the air.

“I also asked him if anybody had died as it is being reported over the internet and he replied ‘negative’ that nobody had died that he had only seen two people who had fainted and were revived,” he said.

While answering questions from Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), the counsel for some #EndSARS protesters, Mr. Taiwo said that he was not aware that another commander, Brigadier-General F. O. Omata had allegedly arrived at the scene to stop the shootings.

“He was there after the shooting in the air, he was there to employ non-kinetic (non-violent) means,” he said.

While being cross-examined by Adeshina Ogunlana, another lawyer for the #EndSARS protesters, Mr. Taiwo also threw more light on the roles of the senior officers at the toll gate.

“Bello had arrived at the scene first before Omata, as the whole 81 Division Garrison had been given the mandate to secure the whole Eti-Osa corridor.

“Omata had left Obalende to meet up with Bello and patrol the whole area,” he said.

The army witness also said that he spoke to Mr. Omata at about 7.35 p.m. through Mr. Bello’s mobile phone.

“I had called three times and after speaking to Bello, I spoke to General Omata using Bello’s phone. It was one of those instances that when I called Bello he said Omata was with him.

“I spoke to Omata and asked if deaths were recorded and he told me no. I called him twice and he said no, that the place has been cleared.

“The place was cleared at about 8.45 p.m. and they said they were going back to their respective units. Later in the day, they went out again at about 11:00 p.m.,” he said. 

NAN

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