A popular social media user, First Doctor (@firstdoctorr), claimed that 96 people were killed by a combined force of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Police Force (NPF) during the attack on #EndSARS protesters in October 2020.
Despite the acknowledgement of “massacre” in the Lagos Judicial Panel report on the Lekki #EndSARS protest, the report did not link all 96 corpses presented by Forensic Pathologist John Obafunwa to the shooting by the operatives of the Nigerian Army and police.
A Twitter user named First Doctor (@firstdoctorr) recently claimed that 96 people were killed by a combined force of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Police Force (NPF) during the attack on #EndSARS protesters on October 20, 2020.
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The social media influencer, who has 126k followers on the microblogging site Twitter, made this known on Monday, November 15, amid a deluge of reactions trailing the “leaked” report of the Lagos Judicial panel on the shooting of the #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate.
Corroborating the report, the Twitter user submitted that “live ammunition was fired at peaceful protesters singing the national anthem at Lekki Tollgate on 20/10/20,” adding that the “Nigerian government has been trying to deny this.”
“According to the Lagos Judicial Panel on #EndSARS:
• The massacre happened
• 96 people were killed by army/police
• Live ammunition were fired at peaceful protesters singing the national anthem at Lekki Tollgate on 20/10/20. The Nigerian government has been trying to deny this,” First Doctor said in a tweet with 267 retweets and 401 likes.
The Judicial Panel Report and the Lekki Massacre
Months after it was constituted to investigate numerous cases of alleged police brutality and “massacre” of harmless protesters at the Lekki toll gate on October 10, 2020, the Lagos judicial panel of inquiry finally submitted its report on Monday, November 15, 2021.
The report was received by the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, from the panel led by a retired judge, Doris Okuwobi, at the Governor’s office in Alausa, Ikeja.
Before the constitution of the panel, there had been multiple reports of alleged massacre, with a number of investigations by both local and international media organisations submitting that #EndSARS protesters “who held the Nigerian flag and sang the national anthem” were brutally killed and aggressively injured by the operatives of army and police.
The protesters, mostly youths, had taken to the streets to register their displeasure over incessant extortions, indiscriminate crime profiling, and brutality of the operatives of the Nigerian police-- which also extended to bad government and acute leadership failure.
The protest started as an ember of anger but later became an inferno with many government properties and private assets vandalised by some suspected and probably sponsored thugs operating under the guise of the #EndSARS protest.
With the demonstration taking a messier turn on the image of the current All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government, on the night of October 20, 2020, members of the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos in a tragic incident that left many casualties behind.
The federal government, through the Communication and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, and the Nigerian Army represented by Brigadier-General A.I. Taiwo had thoroughly denied numerous claims of a massacre, insisting that no protesters were shot in the process, despite shreds of investigative evidence.
However, on November 15, 2021, barely a year and one month after the incident, the Lagos Judicial Panel submitted that the “massacre” indeed occurred and gave names of casualties.
Many Nigerians and groups, including the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), have since been calling for the sack of the communication minister.
Did the massacre happen?
According to the “leaked” report, there was a massacre as the Nigerian Army was reported to have shot and killed at least nine unarmed, peaceful protesters and wounded dozens of others during a demonstration in 2020.
The report also listed 48 people as victims of shooting and labelled the army’s response as unwarranted, saying that “the mayhem and violence recorded in other parts of Lagos State did not happen at the Lekki Toll Gate, so there was no need for any apprehension on the part of the government or the security agencies to seek to dispel that peaceful assembly, with soldiers bearing lethal weapons.”
“At the Lekki Toll Gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenseless 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,” part of the report read.
Did the army and police kill 96 people?
While there was an established case of a massacre carried out by the security operatives as contained in the document submitted to the Lagos State governor by the Lagos Judicial Panel on #EndSARS, the report did not expressly state that 96 people were killed by the combined force of the Nigerian Army and the Police.
However, the report stated that no fewer than nine #EndSARS protesters were killed at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020.
The report listed 48 names as casualties of the Lekki incident, among which 24 sustained gunshot injuries while soldiers and police assaulted 15 others.
The panel also noted that 96 other corpses were presented by a Forensic Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Professor John Obafunwa.
While noting that “some of them could have come from the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of October 20, 2020,” the report did not expressly state, with solid evidence, that the police and army operatives killed all the 96 bodies.
“The panel finds that the fact of lack of identity of some of the other 96 corpses on the list supplied by Professor Obafunwa would not obliterate the fact that some of them could have come from the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of October 20, 2020, or that some other unidentified corpses may have been removed by their families or the military, as claimed by the #EndSARS protesters, far and beyond the list tendered by Professor Obafunwa,” part of the report read.
Although the Lagos State Judicial Panel report established a deliberate shooting of harmless Nigerian youths protesting at the Lekki toll gate, the report did not state that 96 corpses presented by Forensic Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Professor John Obafunwa, were killed by the operatives of the army and police as claimed by First Doctor.