Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Nigerian soldiers continued shooting even as #EndSARS protesters were running away: Forensic Report

Footage of the protest analysed by forensic experts detailed how soldiers shot at fleeing protesters nonstop.

• September 11, 2021
snapshot from footage of soldiers shooting the Lekki protesters.
A snapshot from footage of soldiers shooting the Lekki protesters

Soldiers repeatedly shot at #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate while they ran for safety, a forensic report seen by Peoples Gazette has revealed.

The report by Sentinel Forensics Limited, presented before the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry, detailed how the soldiers arrived at the protest ground on October 20, 2020.

Footage of the incident analysed by the company showed how the soldiers moved closer to protesters from 7:00 p.m., and fired shots continuously even as they fled the protest ground.

After arriving at the protest scene, forensic analysts said at first one could observe “sparks believed to be muzzle flashes and an indication of shots fired.”

Fearing for their lives, the protesters were said in the report to have “then surged backwards and away from the Military personnel who continued firing,” according to the report, adding that “More muzzle flashes are observed, appearing to be directed upwards.”

Later, according to the report, muzzle flashes “appeared to be directed upwards towards the sky and at other times in the direction of the protesters,” were fired, contrary to the army’s initial claims that it only fired blank bullets in the air to disperse protesters.

The report stated that after the shooting, a small cluster of protesters remained at the protest ground and was surrounded by the military personnel, with movement patterns suggesting that “the protesters were carrying an individual each at the aforementioned times, and making their way out of the area secured by the soldiers.”

Although the company said it could not determine the type of ammunition, it said at least two persons sustained injuries or were rendered immobile and were carried by other protesters.

“The pattern of movement of protesters as visible in the footage under review suggest instances where at least two (2) persons sustained injuries/rendered immobile and were carried by other protesters,” the forensic report stated, adding that “the nature of the injuries sustained could not be determined from the footage.”

The spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, Onyema Nwachukwu, did not respond to The Gazette’s request seeking to confirm his awareness of how soldiers repeatedly shot at unarmed young protesters even as they fled the Lekki protest scene.

Meanwhile, the company’s representative, Joseph Kayode Funsho, told the panel on Friday that live ammunition fired at the protesters were registered to the Nigerian Army.

Mr Funsho stated that the investigation showed that the bullet shells recovered from the scene by the panel were of core calibre as those presented by the army.

“Our specialist mentioned amongst other things that the live ammunition tendered as exhibit by the Nigerian Army was of the same type of cartridge and calibre as the ammunition casings tendered by the Judicial Panel which is 7.62 x 39mm. While the blank ammunition tendered was of a different cartridge type 7.62mm x 51mm.”

In a press statement dated September 10 exonerating itself from indicting the Nigerian Army, the company said its role was to provide the panel with expert analysis and not to “indict or absolve” the army. The company said it was the role of the judicial panel “to determine what occurred at Lekki Toll Plaza on October 20, 2020.”

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