Almost one week after videos and graphic scenes from eyewitnesses and protesters show that security forces dressed in Nigerian army uniform opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, the governor of the state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Monday admitted to Cable News Network (CNN) that, indeed the military was responsible.
“From the footage that we could see because there were cameras there, it seems to me there were men with a military uniform which should be Nigerian army,” Sanwo-Olu said during an interview with CNN on Monday evening.
When the American news-based pay television asked the governor of Africa’s biggest city to confirm again that it was the military that ordered the shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate last week Tuesday, Sanwo-Olu said: “Yes, they were there and that is what the footage shows.”
Meanwhile, Nigerian Defence Headquarters’ Director of Information, John Eneche described the report of soldiers shooting at peaceful protesters as mere allegations which some military analysts had dismissed as untrue.
“The issue is not an operation that I can respond to, but I can tell you that it is an allegation, for now; so let us not set the cart before the horse,” Eneche said.
But in the interview with CNN, the governor of Lagos State admitted that two dead bodies “is all that we have seen as a record.”
The world woke up Wednesday, 21 October 2020 to chilling news that Nigerian soldiers had turned their guns on peaceful protesters, a development now set to worsen risk perception in Africa’s biggest economy.
Following over a dozen days of youth-led protests at strategic locations across Nigeria against brutality by a rogue police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), violence erupted in parts of Lagos leading to the burning of a police station. The Lagos state government declared a curfew and soldiers brought in to enforce it reportedly shot at protesters killing many.
The United States, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world condemned the killings of unarmed protesters by the Nigerian security forces at the Lekki toll gate and welcomed an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces.
“It will all be available for the judicial panel to review,” the governor committed, adding that a full investigation will be enforced.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State governor assured CNN that the SARS unit of the Nigerian police force will be disbanded as the president and the IGP has announced and are working towards the reform of the security force.
“I think everybody agrees that there is a reform that needs to take place, there is some truth that needs to come on board,” Sanwo-Olu said, describing the SARS unit as one that has not been fully equipped with operating standard template coupled with the fact that they are underpaid.