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UN Urges FG to Implement Lagos #EndSARS Panel Recommendations

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The United Nations (UN) has called on the federal government to implement the recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up to investigate issues surrounding the #EndSARS protests of 2020.

This call was given by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, noting that the submission of the report of the panel was a welcome development.

“I welcome the submission to the Lagos State Governor, H.E. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of the reports of the judicial panel on claims of brutality and shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State, during the 2020 #EndSARS protests,” he said.

Mr Kallon noted that the submission of the findings of the judicial panel would accelerate the process of justice and accountability.

“I urge the government to implement the recommendations of the judicial panel of inquiry to rebuild trust and start the process of healing and reconciliation,” he added.

Background

On Monday, the panel, established to look into the shootings at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020, submitted its report to the Lagos State Government.

However, a leaked version of the report indicting the state government and the Nigerian Army was released on the Internet, leading to an uproar across social media.

In the report, the panel indicted soldiers and implicated Nigeria’s security agents in the killing and forced disappearances of harmless and unarmed youths protesting at Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020.

The Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel made the revelation in a 309-page report submitted to Governor Sanwo-Olu, which found that at least 48 protesters were either shot dead or injured or assaulted.

Also, page 294 of the report read: “The atrocious maiming and killing of unarmed, helpless and unresisting protesters, while sitting on the floor and waving their Nigerian flags while singing the National Anthem can be equated to a ‘massacre’ in context.”

On page 295: “It was alleged and corroborated that the soldiers had their vans parked at the Lekki Toll Gate and removed as many bodies and corpses of the fallen protesters which they took away with their vans.”

According to the report, “the  Nigerian  Army was invited for intervention in the  State and was deployed to Lekki  Toll  Gate on the  20th  of  October  2020.

“At the  Lekki  Toll  Gate,  officers of the Nigerian  Army shot,  injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenceless protesters, without provocation or justification,  while they were waving the  Nigerian  Flag and singing the National  Anthem and the manner of assault and killing could,  in context, be described as a  massacre.

“The Panel also found that the conduct of the  Nigerian Army was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances render medical assistance to victims who required such assistance.

“The Army was also found not to have adhered to its own  Rules of Engagement.

“The Panel found that the  Nigerian  Police  Force deployed its officers to the  Lekki  Toll Gate on the night of the  20th  October 2020  and between that night and the morning of the  21st  of  October,  2020,    its officer shot at,  assaulted and battered unarmed protesters,  which led to injuries and deaths.

“The police officers also tried to cover up their actions by picking up bullets.

“The panel found that  LCC  hampered the panel’s investigation by refusing to turn over some useful and vital information/evidence as requested by the  Panel and the Forensic  Expert engaged by the panel,  even where such information and evidence was by the company’s admission, available.

“It manipulated the incomplete  CCTV Video footage of the  Lekki  Toll Gate on the night of the  20th  of  October  2020,  which it tendered before the Panel.

“The Panel found that there was an invitation of the Nigerian Army to Lagos State made by the  Lagos  State  Government through the  Governor before the hierarchy of the  Nigerian  Army deployed its soldiers to the  Lekki  Toll  Gate on the night of the  20th of  October.

“The  Panel  found  that  there  was  an  attempt  to  cover  up  the  Incident  of  the  20th  of October  by  the  cleaning  of  the  Lekki  Toll  Gate  and  the  failure  to  preserve  the  scene ahead  of  potential  investigations.”

In its recommendations, the panel recommended various sums of compensation to victims of the  Lekki  Toll Gate  Incident, which must be expeditious in order to accelerate the healing process.

It also recommended that any data that may have been generated over the years on the impunity of the Police across Nigeria be studied and deployed as early warning signs  (EWS)  mechanism.

Others include sanctioning of the officers of the Nigerian Army and the  Nigerian Police Force respectively who participated in the shooting, injuring and killing of unarmed protestors at the  Lekki  Toll  Gate on the  20  and  21st  of  October  2020; Development of more robust engagement between the Youth and the  Government; Setting up of a  Standing  Committee/Tribunal to deal with cases of  Violation of  Human Rights by security agencies and a trust fund to settle compensation awarded by such committee/tribunal, among others.

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