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#ENDSARS: Lagos panel submits report, affirms massacre of youths at Lekki toll gate

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Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other Matters has held that people were massacred at the Lekki Toll gate on October 20, 2020 during the #EndSARS protest by Nigerian youths.

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The panel made this known in its report submitted to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Monday, November 15 at the State house, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos. The panel submitted two sets of reports — a consolidated report on police brutality cases and the Lekki incident investigation.

According to the panel’s report, “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.”

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“Crimes against humanity that took place at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, would never happen again in our nation,” it added.

Speaking after receiving the report, Governor Sanwo-Olu said it is the beginning of the difficult process of proper reconciliation, restitution, and “bringing together of anyone that must have been wronged by one form or the other by either the police or any of our citizens.”

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He commended members of the panel, which include Justice Doris Okuwobi, a retired Judge of the Lagos State High Court (Chairperson), Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN (Representative of the Civil Society), D.I.G. Frederick Taiwo Lakanu (Rtd), Patience Patrick Udoh (Representative Civil Society), Segun Awosanya (Human Rights Activist), Oluwatoyin Odusanya (Director, Citizens’ Rights), Lucas Koyejo Esq (National Human Rights Commission), Majekodunmi Temitope Oluwaseun (Youth Representative nominated by the Youth) and Babajide Boye (Secretary) for the work done, adding that posterity will be kind to them.

The governor stated that the report will be submitted to the National Economic Council (NEC), adding that “proper response” will be accorded to the recommendations.

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He also promised to set up a Four-Man Committee led by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, to prepare a White Paper for the purpose of implementing the findings and recommendations expressed in the report and to give it legal backing.

Other members of the committe include the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Olusegun Dawodu; Special Adviser on Works, Aramide Adeyoye, and the permanent secretary of the cabinet office.

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“I imagine that they would immediately read through and bring forward every little thing that has been recommended in this report,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Justifying the independence of the judicial panel, the governor added that, “It is instructive for us to put it out on record that the panel has been totally independent. The panel has had its full request and has been given full authority to summon to inquire, to ask, to request anybody or anything so wish that would help them come to conclusion.

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“As the governor, I have not seen any of the panel members including the chairperson who I saw last on October 19. Neither have I put a phone call to her or paid her any visits or asked her for anything. In fact, before then I had never met her until the 19th of October.”

The panel began its sitting on October 19, 2020 and concluded on October 18, 2021. The panel by the Instrument of Appointment was given six months to discharge its duties but it stretched into one year. The tenure of the Panel was extended by three months with approval dated March 26, 2021to enable it conclude all petitions brought before it by July 19, 2021.

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According to Justice Okuwobi, 186 of the 252 petitions submitted were deliberated upon. An infographic released by the panel revealed that the sum of N409.7 million was awarded to 70 petitioners.

The report also confirmed that soldiers of the Nigerian Army 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.

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Though the panel detailed how at least 48 protesters were shot dead, injured with bullets or assaulted by soldiers who stormed the Lekki toll gate on the fateful day, its decision not to disclose the shooting incident did not go down well with many Nigerians, including lawyers representing #EndSARS protesters.

Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, who was a member of the panel in a statement, issued on the submitted report on Monday, November 15, urged the Governor Sanwo-Olu to fulfill his promise to Nigerians to make the findings and recommendations of the Panel public.

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“That is the only way to build a true nation and avoid a repeat of the atrocious acts of security agencies against our people, especially the youths, the vulnerable and the helpless.

“Having tendered documents before the Panel and led witnesses to take a position on the incident of the Lekki Toll Gate, it will be unfair and improper for Lagos State to be a judge in its own cause, by seeking to review the report of the Panel.

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“However, the Governor explained to me that this would only be done to enable the government implement the findings and recommendations of the Panel and not to tamper with it or mutilate it. I believe His Excellency.

“I will however keep observing the turn of events and at the appropriate time, one may be forced to state the full contents of the report if the promises made are not fulfilled.

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“I can never and will never subscribe to anything that would amount to covering up the report of the Panel. We have done our work in the best way that we could. Nigerians should demand for justice against all culprits who have been named in detail, in our report,” the statement read in parts.

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