…releases photos, video footage of firing at protesters
Amnesty International has accused the Federal Government of Nigeria of making attempts to cover up its role in the Lekki Toll Gate massacre. The accusation came yesterday just as the global human rights organisation released a new timeline of investigations into the atrocity which occurred a week ago. Country Director, Amnesty International, Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, disclosed that the timeline includes photographs and video footage which confirms that Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base, approximately a seven-minute drive from the toll gate, at 6.29p.m. on 20 October.
The footage, Ojigho said, tracks the vehicles to the toll gate and that at approximately 6.45p.m., the Nigerian military opened fire on the #EndSARS protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.
“What happened at Lekki Toll Gate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a coverup whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings. “One week on, the Nigerian authorities still have many questions to answer: who ordered the use of lethal force on peaceful protesters? Why were CCTV cameras on the scene dismantled in advance? And who ordered electricity being turned off minutes before the military opened fire on protesters? “The initial denials of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting was followed by the shameful denial of the loss of lives as a result of the military’s attack against the protests.
“Many people are still missing since the day of the incident, and credible evidence shows that the military prevented ambulances from reaching the severely injured in the aftermath,” Ojigho said. Amnesty International’s Crisis Response experts, who reportedly investigated the incident, claimed they have verified social media videos and photographs that confirm the Nigerian security forces were present at the Lekki Toll Gate when the shootings occurred.
“At 6.29p.m. local time in Lagos, two military vehicles were filmed leaving Bonny Camp on videos shared on social media. Later footage shows four vehicles with flashing lights in a convoy, and they appear to be vehicles used by the Nigerian military and police. “The same vehicles head east along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue – which changes its name to the Lekki-Epe Expressway – in the direction of the Lekki Toll Gate. On this route, the vehicles pass several international embassies and consulates, including the Japanese Embassy and the Australian High Commission.
“Further photographs and footage capture the vehicles arriving at the toll gate, before the peaceful protest is disrupted by men in military uniform and gunfire is heard. As night time descended, protesters continued to film and share videos of the shootings. Later in the evening, videos of the victims were also shared on social media,” the organisation said in its report made available to the media. Amnesty International alleged that at least 56 people have died across the country since the #End- SARS protests began and in many cases, the security forces have used excessive force in an attempt to control or stop the protests.
It, therefore, urged the Federal Government to bring to justice those behishind the shooting and protect those who were exercising their right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. The organization, Ojigho said, is still investigating the shooting incident and the reported removal of bodies of those killed by the military in an attempt to destroy valuable evidence. Amnesty International said it has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSARS protest began on October 8, 2020. It would be recalled that Nigerians took to the streets, peacefully demanding an end to police brutality, extrajudicial executions and extortion by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian police tasked with fighting violent crimes