Monday, 18 October 2021


Items filtered by date: October 2020

Saturday, 31 October 2020 23:59

#EndSARS: 73 deaths recorded nationwide

By Nicholas Kalu, Abuja/Precious Igbonwelundu/Oziegbe Okoeki/Nsa Gills, Calabar/Kolade Adeyemi, Jos/ THE NATION

  • 1,596 suspects arrested for looting, violence

  • Navy arrests 41 for looting, vandalism in Lagos

  • Curfew now 10pm to 6am

  • ‘I was listed among those to be attacked – Obong of Calabar

The recent #ENDSARS protests claimed 73 lives nationwide including 22 police personnel, the police authorities said on Friday.

A total of 1,596 suspects have already been arrested across the states in connection with the violence and looting sparked by the protests, according to statistics compiled by the police.

Fourteen states including Lagos, Edo, Rivers and Imo were the most hit by the violence.

The nationwide search for #ENDSARS protest looters also led to the arrest of 41 suspects in Lagos on Friday by officers of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT.

The suspects are believed to be among the hoodlums who allegedly vandalised malls, private shops and houses around Surulere, Apapa and Ijora parts of Lagos.

Goods estimated at over N100 million were recovered from them.

The Plateau State Government has put losses incurred in the state during the protests at over N75 billion while the Obong of Calabar, His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, said he was a target during the violence that rocked the Cross River State capital during the protest.

Speaking during a virtual conference with senior police officers, Police Inspector General Mohammed Adamu said 51 civilians and 22 police personnel were killed.

Thirty-seven civilian and 26 police injuries were also recorded.

He said statistics collated between 11th October, 2020 when the protests assumed a national dimension and 27th October, 2020 showed that 14 states recorded major violence.

Critical national security infrastructure and other corporate and private properties as well as injuries or fatalities to civilians, the police and other security agents were recorded, he said.

He listed the states as Lagos, Edo, Delta, Oyo, Kano, Plateau, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Abia, Imo, and Ekiti as well as the FCT.

He said: “In total, 71 public warehouses and 248 privately owned stores were looted in the course of the protests nationwide.

“A total of 51 civilian fatalities and 37 civilian injuries have been recorded while a total of 22 policemen were gruesomely murdered with 26 others injured by the protesters.

“Furthermore, 205 critical national security assets, corporate facilities and private property were attacked, burnt or vandalised.

“So far, a total of 10 firearms including eight AK 47 rifles carted away during the attack on police stations, and a locally made pistol have been recovered from elements operating under the guise of the ENDSARS protesters.

“In addition, 1,596 suspects have so far been arrested in connection with the violence and widespread looting by the protesters across the country.

“The breakdown shows that 520 suspects were arrested in Lagos; 367 in Plateau State; 210 in the FCT and 142 in Kwara State.

“Similarly, 82 suspects were apprehended in Osun State; 60 in Adamawa State and 36 in Kano and Ogun states respectively.

“Thirty-three suspects were arrested in Edo State; 20 each in Kaduna and Akwa Ibom states; 15 in Abia and Delta states and 13 in Oyo and Ekiti states respectively.

“Furthermore, 10 suspects were arrested in Rivers State and four in Ondo State. Out of these figures, not less than 1,117 have been charged to court across the country.”

He encouraged the officers and men not to be demoralised by recent events particularly as they relate to the targeted attacks on police personnel and facilities.

“You should rather draw inspiration from the motivating words of Mr. President who in a speech delivered during the launch of the Presidential Youths Empowerment Scheme (P-YES) at the State House on Monday 12th October, 2020 duly acknowledged that ‘the vast majority of men and women of the Nigeria Police Force are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians and we will continue to support them to do their jobs’,” he said.

Navy parades suspects, loot in Lagos

• Some of the looters arrested by the Navy on parade in Lagos, yesterday

The Commander NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Ibrahim Shettima, who paraded the suspects arrested by his men, said the navy also recovered a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) looted from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) headquarters and a truck loaded with various looted items including electronics, kitchen and home appliances, bicycles, auto spare parts, fabrics, clothes and shoes, COVID-19 palliatives, among others.

Shettima who was represented by the base’s acting Executive Officer (XO), Commander Andrew Zidon said some of those arrested were minors and were released to their parents after screening.

The Nation gathered that two other SUVs were stolen from NPA while many others were burnt when the NPA building was set ablaze.

Eight NPA officials were rescued from the burning structure.

According to Shettima, the base conducted over 200 active patrols and responded to more than 50 distress calls from citizens and organisations from October 19.

He said: “Beginning from around October 19, Lagos State plunged into a civil unrest characterised by riots, looting and reported widespread criminal activities by hoodlums and miscreants. The Nigerian Navy responded to the crisis in an effective and timely manner to help ensure the return of normalcy within its Area of Operations.

“This operation was conducted under the Lagos State Security architecture code named OP MESA which designates, Apapa, Orile, Ijora, Costain, Surulere, Mile 12, Amukoko, etc as the area of responsibility for the Nigerian Navy.

“In the course of carrying out our task, the base conducted patrols and took all necessary measures within the ambits of the law as well as Internal Security Standard Operating Procedure for the Armed Forces of Nigeria to help restore peace and order.

“This necessitated working with sister services as well as other Law enforcement agencies including the Nigerian Police.

“The suspects here are those we have degree of certainty on their involvement in the crimes. They are the ones we hope to hand over to the police.

“Among the 41 suspects arrested, some were 11, 12 or 13-year-olds and so not people we felt we should keep in custody.

“We invited their parents and handed them over to them. Suspects were arrested from various locations. The truck was intercepted under the bridge at Orile and the driver arrested.

“He said the truck was going outside Lagos. Through the driver, we have gotten other suspects.

“There was no confrontation with them. We have done serialisation of every item recovered and some of the owners have already identified what belongs to them.

“Not everything here was taken from malls. Some of them were stolen from small shops and homes.”

An employee of STI Textiles, Seun Olubode, who said their shops at Suruelere and Lekki were looted, thanked the navy for helping them get some of the items.

“We are thankful to the navy for the little one we have seen. We have identified our laces among the items but it is just like a scratch compared to what was looted. We are still thankful for these ones we have seen and hoping we will get more,” she said.

Another victim, Abubakar Mohammed who said his spare part shop was looted twice with goods worth over N17million carted away, told reporters he was able to identify some of his items among the recovered loot.

Lagos relaxes curfew from 10pm to 6am

The Lagos State Government on Friday further relaxed the curfew in the state from 10pm to 6am.

The curfew was imposed in the wake of the violence that erupted during the #ENDSARS protests.

The curfew relaxation was announced in a statement signed by Information and Strategy Commissioner Gbenga Omotoso.

He quoted Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu as praising Lagosians for observing the curfew which is expected to restore normalcy in the communities, and urging them to go “about their businesses in peace, even as they shun actions that can threaten our unity.”

The Governor advised purveyors of fake news to stop causing disaffection among Lagosians, who are well known for being peace-loving and friendly.

We lost N75b to looting, says Plateau govt

The Plateau State Government estimated losses incurred across the state during the recent looting at over N75 billion.

Governor Simon Lalong told youths at an interactive session in Jos on Friday that the level of destruction and carnage was unbelievable and unacceptable.

“A preliminary report by a team of experts I constituted has estimated the losses to be put at about N75 billion for now,” he said.

He said government was “still trying to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the total cost of the damage.”

The looting, according to him, has “clearly taken us many years backwards as we do not have the resources to replace the structures vandalised and the items damaged or stolen.”

He said government was yet to recover from the devastating economic consequences of COVID-19 which has greatly affected its capacity to provide services to the people.

He said the destruction had nothing to do with the initial #ENDSARS protests but simply a clear act of criminality and unpatriotic behaviour of the perpetrators.

No fewer than 32 public and private properties were affected in the looting spree, he said.

He said his administration has “done our best to ensure that our youths benefit from all social investment programmes of the Federal Government, including the extension of the skill acquisition component of N-Power to 11,364 youths in the state.

I was listed among those to be attacked – Obong of Calabar

The Obong of Calabar, His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, on Friday condemned politicians for using the youths in the wrong way to become destructive against themselves and others.

Receiving former governor Liyel Imoke, who led a delegation to visit him following the rampage by some hoodlums that destroyed the property of government institutions and private investments, the Obong said he got information that he was listed among those to be attacked.

“Somebody like me that has not gained anything from the political class, if I may say so, my name was said to be in the list of the places to attack,” he said.

The Obong said he had been watching “and I am so unhappy that the peace and calm that we use to have here is taken away.”

“Why? Because the politicians have failed. That is why we sit down to watch you people. There is need to change. And if I had my way, I could have said this governor should wait. Let’s set up an interim administration then he starts learning and looking at how administration is actually done.”

He noted that the buck stops at the table of the governor as the Chief Security Officer of the state, stressing: “he should be holding security meeting regularly.” “This thing would not have happened if he had called the security people together after hearing what happened in Lagos and other places.

“Call them and tell them, ‘Look, my friends, nothing should happen in my state.’

”The key is that there has to be a change of attitude. Every one of you should have access to the governor, and he should listen.

“Please tell our Excellency (the governor), even though you say it is not time to put blame, whether you like it or not, the buck stops at his table and we have to have a solution to this problem.

“We have to face it right out there. We don’t need to play around with it. We cannot continue this way.

“You tell him that there is a need for total reconciliation; a total rehabilitation of whatever he has been doing.

“Everybody matters in this state. He should be able to talk to people. He wouldn’t call you. Even when you call him, he doesn’t answer the call. Nobody talks to him, but rather what are we doing? We are all running away.”

Speaking earlier, former Governor Liyel Imoke told the Obong of Calabar that in the wake of the incident, he thought it wise to seek the help and cooperation of the traditional institution in finding a way out of the problem.

“We do not understand the extent of the carnage. We are all victims of this incident. If you were not hit directly, you were hit indirectly.

“For me, I was hit directly. So also very many public officials, they were also hit directly.”

Published in News & Stories

By Taiwo Okanlawon/ PM NEWS

A school teacher, Mrs Ndubuisi Obiechina, has told the Lagos State Panel of Judicial Inquiry into SARS brutality how she was detained by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad for 22 days and tortured until she lost her pregnancy.

Obiechina spoke at the panel on Saturday.

She was arrested by SARS operatives in 2017 on allegations that she was a thief and a kidnapper.

Obiechina, a school teacher said she was tortured until she lost her two-month-old pregnancy.

She gave the name of the officers who tortured her as Phillip Rilwan, Christian and Haruna Idowu.

According to her, the SARS operatives stole her husband’s N50,000 and compelled them to cough up N400,000 as bail, before they were freed.

Obiechina, who was at the panel with her husband said on June 1, 2017, she received a text message from an unknown number that he had a parcel from DHL, adding that a caller using different numbers asked for her home or office address and that she gave him her school address upon her husband’s advice.

She narrated that the following day, she saw a black jeep with huge men inside it, saying that one of them was in a DHL uniform and that they immediately approached her and started beating her

“They said I should enter inside. They said I was a thief, an armed robber. The one in the DHL uniform removed it. My HM (headmistress) was peeping at us. I said let me go and tell her. They said no. I said my kid is there, they said no, that I should follow them, that my kid would die there,” she explained.

According to her, her headmistress came to the gate as they pointed a gun at her, explaining that she asked what was going on and that they told her that she was a thief and a kidnapper and must follow them, identifying themselves as SARS operatives.

Obiechina explained further that they pushed her inside the car and moved away, while the men were slapping and beating her.

She said she was two months pregnant and started vomiting, saying that was when they found out she was pregnant, but that they kept torturing her and that she told them she did not know the suspect they were looking for.

After taking her to their Ikeja office, she said they took her to a shrine and hung her up as they began to beat her severely, threatening that they would force her baby out unless she produced the person or die there.
Published in Headliners has spoken out about Donald Trump, saying the president’s claim that he’s done more for the Black community than any president since Abraham Lincoln is “an insult”.

Speaking in a new interview, the Black Eyed Peas frontman, who debuted a new pro-Joe Biden video this week with Jennifer Hudson, was asked whether he felt Trump was drawing the support of young African American and Latino men.

“Most of the people that I see hopping the bandwagon, it is tax based,” he told The Washington Post Live. “It’s about money. It’s not about decency. It’s not about preparation for tomorrow.”

“That is what I see. And they are believing the lies and the shenanigans and his empty promises and his tall claims of how great he is. And comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln. ‘He’s the greatest president to the Black community since Abraham Lincoln because Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves.’ And his connection with freeing prisoners means that he sees the Black community still as slaves and now free. Get out of here with that bro. No. No. No. You have no idea how great the Black community is to compare yourself to Abraham Lincoln.

He concluded: “This is a different Black community now. You are not freeing us. What are you talking about? That’s an insult.

Elsewhere in the interview, addressed recent comments made by Ice Cube, after the ‘Good Day’ rapper revealed that he met with Republicans to talk about their plans for the Black community, but that it was not an endorsement.

“[He is] forgetting that [Trump is] a liar, he’s forgetting that he’s a used car salesman, he’s forgetting he’s full of shit, and he’s forgetting that everything he said he went back on,” said.

Meanwhile, Lil Wayne has revealed he met with President Donald Trump just days before the 2020 US election.

Posting a photo of the two of them on Twitter, Wayne wrote he “had a great meeting” with the president.

“Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump @potus besides what he’s done so far with criminal reform, the platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership,” he wrote.

Published in News & Stories

Elite Commandos of the US military have staged a military raid of bandits camp in Nigeria to free an American abducted in Niger Republic.

The American, Philip Walton, was abducted on 26 October by suspected bandits last week in a village in Niger, close to Nigeria. Nigeria has porous borders with Niger..

The US military rescued Walton during a high-risk U.S. military raid in Nigeria.

Officials told ABC News early Saturday that the counter-terrorism mission was undertaken by elite commandos as part of a major effort to free the 27-year-old U.S. citizen before his abductors could get far after taking him captive in Niger.

According to report, the operation involved the governments of the U.S., Niger and Nigeria working together to rescue Walton quickly.

It said the elite SEAL Team Six carried out the rescue mission and killed all but one of the captors, according to officials with direct knowledge about the operation.

“They were all dead before they knew what happened,” another counterterrorism source with knowledge told ABC News.

The Pentagon lauded the rescue mission in a statement.

“U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 October in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men,” said Pentagon chief spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman.

“This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.

“We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation.”

U.S. and Nigerien officials had said that Walton was kidnapped from his backyard last Monday after assailants asked him for money. But he only offered $40 USD and was then taken away by force, according to sources in Niger.

Walton lives with his wife and young daughter on a farm near Massalata, a small village close to the border with Nigeria.

Nigerien and American officials told ABC News that they believed the captors were from an armed group from Nigeria and that it was not considered terror-related. But hostages are often sold to terrorist groups.

Concern grew quickly after the kidnapping that an opportunity to rescue Walton could become much more dangerous if he was taken by or sold to a group of Islamist militants aligned with either al Qaeda or ISIS and American special operations commanders felt they needed to act swiftly before that could occur, said one counterterrorism official briefed on the hostage recovery operations.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed after the kidnapping that an American citizen had been abducted in Niger and said the U.S. government was “providing their family all possible consular assistance.” The spokesperson declined to comment on the case, citing “privacy considerations,” but added, “When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families however we can.”

Another American, Christian humanitarian aid worker Jeffery Rey Woodke, 60, has been held hostage for the past four years since being kidnapped in northern Niger by armed militants.

Published in Business and Economy

By Bayo Onanuga with agency reports/ PM NEWS

Donald Trump’s United States is playing the spoiler in rejecting the candidacy of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next World Trade Organisation leader

According to reports by Reuters, the US told a meeting of the WTO on Wednesday that it does not back Okonjo-Iweala as the next WTO leader.

This was despite cross-regional support for her and the fact that Okonjo-Iweala is also an American citizen.

Africa and the European Union, China and Latin America are in support of the Nigerian candidate.

US stance could undermine the global trade body as it seeks to select a successor to director general Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down in August.

A key group of WTO ambassadors had proposed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next chief.

However, any such decision requires a consensus among the 164 WTO members, meaning any of them could block her appointment.

At a meeting of the WTO in Geneva today, the General Council Chair David Walker has reported today on the results of the consultations to appoint the next Members prepare way forward in selection process.

After the meeting WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell summed up the announcement by GC Chair Walker.

“The candidate that had the best chance of attaining a consensus of the membership is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria.

“Consultations on the way forward will start immediately”, he said

The WTO would formally meet on 9 November, after the US election to ratify Okonjo-Iweala as the next WTO director-general.

Published in Headliners

Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has emerged the Director General, World Trade Organisation, WTO.

According to Reuters, a key group of WTO ambassadors has proposed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to lead the UN agency.

The recommendation of former World Bank managing director, was made by three WTO ambassadors, the so-called “troika”.

This followed their consultation with members in a series of closed-door meetings in Geneva as part of an intricate and opaque process that some have compared to a papal succession.

Her endorsement by this powerful group has cleared the path for her to become the first woman and African to head the global watchdog in its 25-year history.

The proposal, which still needs full WTO approval, caps a more than four-month selection process involving intensive lobbying which saw her square up against South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee in the final round.

It still needs to be approved by consensus at a meeting of the WTO’s 164 members.

In the run-up to the DG chair, Okonjo-Iweala had the support of AU and on Tuesday, the EU also pledged support.

Published in News & Stories

By Chimezie Anaso/ PM NEWS

Anambra Police Command on Wednesday counted its losses after hoodlums took over the #EndSARS protests, killing no less than four officers, injuring two injured and also destroying Police stations.

Mr John Abang, the Commissioner of Police in Anambra said this on Wednesday during the parade of 17 suspected hoodlums. After investigation, out of the 17 suspects, 10 of them were indigenes of Anambra, four from Ebonyi and three from Abia.

Abang said these hoodlums burnt 11 Police Stations, vandalised 6 and carted away motorcycles, ammunition and other valuables.

He said about 20 vehicles were razed, including an Armoured Personnel Carrier and patrol vehicles.

According to the Commissioner, the lives of police officers in the state were still in danger as hoodlums were still on their trail and most cannot go home.

“It is common knowledge that hoodlums acting under the guise of the “EndSARS” protest attacked Police Stations in some parts of the State which resulted into loss of lives, looting and wanton destruction of property

“The hoodlums set ablaze 11 Police Stations, vandalised six, burnt over 20 vehicles, including patrol and exhibit vehicles and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC).

“The Police also lost some rifles during the attacks.

“In the course of these heinous acts, the hoodlums murdered four police officers, including the DPO of Osumenyi Division, CSP Akpan Joseph, ASP Agu Micheal, the Station Officer and a young Police Corporal, Udegbunam Sunday Celestine, while leaving two others injured.

“In their state of callousness, the hoodlums also murdered and beheaded Insp. John Oche, attached to the Anti- Cultism Unit and burnt his body while parading the streets with the deceased policeman’s head,” he said.

Abang said other private and public property were vandalised and looted by the hoodlums, including the state Revenue House, OCHA Brigade office and private trucks loaded with goods were attacked and valuable property looted.

He said the loss of lives and the destruction of property would have been more if his officers and men did not protect Police property gallantly.

“Despite concerted efforts by the hoodlums to create a state of lawlessness in Anambra, the Command stood its ground and repelled their attacks in various formations such as Area Commands in Onitsha, Ogidi, Awada, CPS Onitsha, Inland town and the B Division.

“Meanwhile, in the course of the decisive action by the Police, 17 suspects were arrested in connection with the incidents with several exhibits, including one AK47 Rifle stolen from Ogbunike Division, which has been recovered by operatives of the Command,” he added.


Published in News & Stories
Wednesday, 28 October 2020 17:58

JUST IN: Buhari meets T.Y. Danjuma at Aso Villa

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday met behind closed doors with former Minister of Defence, retired Gen. T. Y. Danjuma, at the State House, Abuja.

Mr Sunday Aghaeze, the Personal Assistant to the President (Photography), confirmed this via pictorial reports on the meeting.

The agenda of the meeting was unknown to State House correspondents as at the time of filing this report.

It was however gathered the meeting may not be unconnected with the ongoing critical consultations with major stakeholders in the country aimed at finding lasting solutions to the security and socio-economic challenges.

The President had on Oct. 23 presided over a crucial virtual meeting with former Nigerian leaders at the Council Chamber of the State House, Abuja.

The former leaders, who participated in the meeting virtually from their homes included Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Goodluck Jonathan and Earnest Shonekan.

Buhari had also met with members of the nation’s security and intelligence community, on Oct. 22 in Abuja, and later addressed the nation on the ENDSARS protests embarked upon by some aggrieved youths in the country.


Published in News & Stories

As the 81 Division Nigerian Army denied that soldiers shot at protesters at Lekki Toll Gate last week Tuesday, a survivor has come out to share what she saw in an interview with AFP.

She said she hasn’t been able to sleep for a week and at first wanted just “to stay hidden”.

But this survivor of the shooting of peaceful Nigerian protesters at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos last week said she realised that she had to speak out.

“I feel like I’m hiding the truth,” says the young woman, whose name AFP has changed to Clara for her own safety.

The shooting of demonstrators in Lagos unleashed chaos in Nigeria and stirred international outrage.

The bloodshed was watched live on social media by tens of thousands of internet users and Amnesty International said security forces gunned down at least 10 people at the scene.

But the Nigerian army and police have rejected all evidence of any responsibility.

October 20 was the 10th day that Clara, a 24-year-old financial auditor, had woken up at 6 am (0500 GMT) and headed to join the crowds at the giant Lekki Toll Gate to demonstrate against police brutality.

The site had developed into a place of protest, partying and prayers as thousands of mainly young people blocked one of the main highways in Lagos.

After days bringing the city to a standstill, the protests had begun to turn violent in numerous districts and the authorities announced a curfew from 4 pm (1500 GMT).

Clara and some of her friends in the crowd decided to defy the order despite the threats of a possible crackdown.

“We wanted to make sure it was a peaceful protest,” she insists.

“We picked up all the stones on the floor, we took away all the sticks lying on the floor, we made sure no one was selling alcohol so it would not alter the mood.”

But the atmosphere began to darken despite attempts to keep spirits high.

“I saw people with orange clothes at about 2 pm taking CCTV cameras out,” says the young woman.

“One of our guys went and asked them what they were doing and they said they were taking off cameras because they didn’t want anyone to steal or break them.”

The company that runs the toll gate has insisted that the cameras moved were those only for scanning car number plates.

But Clara is adamant.

“They were not plate registration cameras, they were at the top of the toll gate. It’s a lie,” she says.

As night set in Clara realised the giant electronic billboard over the site and street lights had been turned off.

“It’s just when it started getting dark that we saw there was no light,” she recounts.

READ ALSO Lekki toll gate shooting caused by "forces beyond control" - Sanwo-Olu

Along with a few others she went to ask workers from the toll gate to turn the illuminations back on — but they insisted it was an order from their boss.

“This is when I started hearing the shooting,” Clara says.

“I saw five army vans in total. Two were at the back and three up front, all shooting,” she continues.

After a first wave of shooting “there was blood everywhere, people shouting”.
“There were different people on the floor, some were moving, some were not moving,” Clara says.
“We were just running. I saw a woman begging for help, she was shouting in Yoruba ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die’.”

“Some people brought two injured to us. There were still a lot of shootings and I was trying to call an ambulance,” she says.

“A group of soldiers came to us, and we started shouting: ‘Why are you killing us, we are one, we are brothers!'”

After a first wave of shooting “there was blood everywhere, people shouting”.

“There were different people on the floor, some were moving, some were not moving,” Clara says.

“We were just running. I saw a woman begging for help, she was shouting in Yoruba ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die’.”

Then the break ended and more gunfire began.

“This time there were army guys and other people who seemed to be like police,” she says.

“Out of nowhere the shooting started again, and I saw tear gas.”

People desperately tried to flee the scene. Some hid in bushes. Others jumped into the nearby water of the lagoon.

Only at around 2.30 am (0130 GMT) did the sound of gunshots finally stop.

Echoing other witness accounts, Clara says she saw the soldiers turn back ambulances and load the bloodied body of at least one man into a military vehicle.

“I can’t say if he was dead or wounded, but he was not moving anymore,” she says.

“I don’t know how many bodies they took, all I can say is that I saw this one.”

One week on from that dreadful night, Clara says she feels “traumatised”.

The protesters had hopes of a “better Nigeria”.

“For once we put everything aside and came with one voice to fight against police brutality,” she says.

“It’s sad that we had a protest to ask to live and they still came to kill us.”

Published in Headliners

The Nigerian authorities’ must end their attempts to cover up the Lekki Toll Gate massacre, Amnesty International said, as it released a new timeline investigating the atrocity one week later.

The timeline collates photographs and video footage to confirm that Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base approximately a seven-minute drive from the toll gate, at 6.29pm local time on 20 October.

Footage then tracks the vehicles to the toll gate. At approximately 6.45pm, the Nigerian military opened fire on the #EndSars protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.

(Read the timeline here

“What happened at Lekki Toll Gate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings,” said Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International.

“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?

READ ALSO “Inspector Fashola” - Nigerians drag minister over Lekki hidden camera

“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.”

Amnesty International is again calling on Nigerian authorities to bring to justice those behind the shooting and to protect those who are exercising their right to freedom of assembly.

The organization is still investigating the shooting, and the reported removal of bodies of those killed by the military in an attempt to remove evidence.

Tracking the military’s movements

Amnesty International’s Crisis Response experts investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirm the Nigerian security forces were present at the Lekki Toll Gate when the shootings occurred.

At 6.29pm 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.

Amnesty International has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSars protest began on 8 October 2020.

Nigerians have been taking 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.

At least 56 people have died across the country since protests began. In multiple cases, the security forces have used excessive force in an attempt to control or stop the protests.

*Statement by Amnesty International

Published in Business and Economy
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