Wednesday, 28 October 2020
Items filtered by date: October 2020

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

Did Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu lie that he did not send the military to Lekki Toll Plaza last week Tuesday, where some unarmed protesters were said to have been shot and killed?

The 81 Division of the Nigerian Army has just clarified matters, saying the soldiers came out at the invitation of the Sanwo-OLu led government of Lagos.

Major Osona Olaniyi, spokesman of the Division said the soldiers came out to enforce the curfew.

But Olaniyi denied reports that soldiers shot at unarmed civilians, the #EndSARS protesters who assembled at the Lekki Toll Plaza.

He also denied that the army committed any massacre.

“The attention of headquarters of 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drarwn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilian protesters were massacred by soldiers at Lekki Toll Plaza.

“This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country. At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian army open fire on any civilian.

“From the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos were involved.

“However the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government (LASG) after a 24 hours curfew was imposed.

“This was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.

“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.”

“The intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for internal security operations and all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for internal security operations and

“Finally the Headquarters of 81 Division Nigerian Army reiterates that the Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities did not shoot at any civilian as there are glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact.

“This allegation is the handiwork of mischief makers who will stop at nothing to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Army. The general public is hereby enjoined to discountenance this allegation as there is no iota of truth therein.”

Sanwo-Olu in earlier statements had claimed he did not invite the soldiers and does not even understand their command structure, to be able to do so.

#EndSARS protesters posted video images, showing soldiers shooting at the Toll Gate Plaza.

DJ Switch who was there claimed that she counted 15 bodies, carried away by the soldiers.

The Lagos Government has set a judicial panel to get to the root of what happened at the Plaza on 20 October, along with probing cases of past police brutality.

Published in News & Stories

By Okodili Ndidi, Abuja/ THE NATION

  • Buratai gives marching order
  • UK urges restraint as normalcy is restored

The army has joined the battle to restore security in the country which broke down after the #EndSARS protests were hijacked by hoodlums.

Troops will prevent the ongoing looting of public and private properties by miscreants and criminals across the country, the Army High Command decided on Monday.

They vowed to remain loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari and to remain focused and not be deterred by any local and international threats from carrying out their duty of securing Nigerians.

But their action will be taken in consultation with the police – whose responsibility is for internal security – and other security agencies.

These are the highlights of the meeting of Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai with principal staff officers, General Officers Commanding and field Commanders at the Army headquarters on Monday.

Briefing the media on the outcome of the meeting, Acting Director of Army Public Relations Col. Sagir Musa, said Gen. Buratai recalled that “the events of the past few days in our dear nation have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilise Nigeria by all means having hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protest marches resulting to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country. These acts led to the imposition of curfew in many states”.

Gen. Buratai directed its men and officers to respond “ quickly and decisively” to any attempt by “elements or destabilising agents” to cause a breach of the law and order.

They Army charged its personnel not to be scared of being reported to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for carrying out their constitutionally-assigned duty of defending the nation and its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution.

The army assured that it would remain committed to democratic governance “as the only panacea for development and progress.”

Gen. Buratai said the military had lost 10 AK-47 rifles and personnel to the violence, adding that the Army was aware of efforts to drag it into the protests with a view to “discredit” it and the government.

He directed the military chiefs to let their troops on internal security or on guard duties outside the barracks to know that they must be at maximum alert at all times in order to be able to ”deal decisively with any attack on their duty locations.”

”Any act of arson or attempt to kill or maim any military or security personnel and other law-abiding civilians must be responded to quickly and decisively,” Burutai said.

He alerted them of potential security threats resulting from the buggling of security armouries by the hoodlums, adding that ”the recent activities of the “unscrupulous elements have shown their desire to acquire arms and ammunition at all cost from security personnel.”

“No less than 10 AK-47 rifles have been lost to these miscreants in the past two weeks across the country with attendant loss of lives of personnel,” the COAS warned.

The Army chief said: “Right from the onset of the #EndSARS protests, the NA has been aware of the grand design by the sponsors of the protests to draw it into the crisis.

“The plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the NA once it is called out to aid the civil authorities.

“The NA being aware of the devilish plan was careful not to be dragged in and issued the initial warning through a press release on October 14, 2020 of our resolve to secure and safeguard a united Nigeria.

“Now, the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states.

“These agitators are falsely accusing the NA of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants despite glaring evidence to the contrary. They have continually threatened to report the NA to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families.”

He however noted that, “despite all these, the NA has continued to exercise restraint by applying all the Principles of Internal Security Operations and fully abided by the internationally recognised rules of engagements….”

Buratai stressed that the Army would not “allow any force, elements or destabilising agents in or outside” to set the country on fire.

He said: “The Nigerian Army is determined to ensure democratic stability in Nigeria. The best system of governance is democracy and we must all ensure that Nigeria’s democracy remains stable and steady. We will not allow any force, elements or destabilising agents in or outside our country to set our beloved country on fire.

“We remain resolute in doing everything possible to ensure that subversive elements, detractors and other enemies of this great nation do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilisation.”

He admonished “there is no choice between a democratically united, strong and prosperous Nigeria and a nation disunited in a state of anarchy and retrogression.”

“We must all strive for a united, strong, stable and progressive Nigeria,” he admonished.

The British High Commission, in a tweet, said: “We remain concerned by acts of looting and violence in Nigeria and urge security services use restraint as order is restored. Working with all stakeholders, judicial panel of inquiry must investigate all incidents, including #Lekki and ensure accountability for crimes. #EndPoliceBrutality”

Published in News & Stories

The 81 Division of the Nigerian Army on Tuesday said the decision to call in the army was taken by the Lagos State Government after it declared a curfew last Tuesday.

The army also denied ever shooting at #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate.

Major Osoba Olaniyi, Acting Director Army Public Relations, in a statement said the army were called out after the state government declared a curfew to maintain law and order.

According to him, the attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army had been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilian protesters were massacred by soldiers at Lekki Toll Plaza, saying this allegation was untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country.

Olaniyi said at no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army opened fire on any civilian, saying that from the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos were involved.

“However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government (LASG) after a 24- hour curfew was imposed,” he said.

According to him, this was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.

He said the situation was fast degenerating into anarchy and that it was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.

Olaniyi stated that the intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for Internal Security operations and that all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Internal Security operations.

“Finally, Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army reiterates Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities did not shoot at any civilian as there are glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact,” he said.

Olaniyi added that this allegation was the hand work of mischief makers who would stop at nothing to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Army.

He called on the general public to discountenance this allegation as there was no iota of truth therein.

Published in News & Stories

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja/ GUARDIAN.NG

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged federal and state governments to immediately release food items meant to alleviate the hardship of Nigerians during the COVID-19 pandemic.It argued that heeding the call would stem ongoing nationwide looting.

The labour centre noted with concern the stealing of goods procured to relieve citizens during the lockdowns.

It observed that “it is now obvious that the palliatives procured by the government for immediate distribution to our people at their critical time of need, and to assuage the hardship occasioned by the lockdown were hoarded by some government officials.”

NLC stated that the “real reasons for hiding the products” were yet to be disclosed to the public, while “many of the palliative provisions are already getting rotten in the warehouses they were stored.”

Condemning the mass looting of the relief materials, the movement equally deplored the conduct of some government officials in the whole episode.

It added: “We call on the Federal Government to investigate the conduct of those who hoarded the palliative provisions.

“To forestall riotous plundering of the remaining relief palliatives, the Nigeria Labour Congress demands that the Federal Government should order the immediate release of all the welfare provisions and materials to citizens.

As we had demanded in the past, the distribution of the palliative provisions should be transparent, and inclusive with the active participation of mass-based citizen groups.

“This directive should apply to state governments, many of which are chiefly culprit in this regard.

“Government officials cannot afford to create a scenario that precipitates mass unrests at this very delicate and fragile milieu in global history. A stitch in time would save nine.”

Published in News & Stories

By Precious Igbonwelundu/ THE NATION

The 81 Division of the Nigerian Army (NA) has denied allegation soldiers opened fire on #ENDSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza last Tuesday.

In a statement by the Acting Director Army Public Relations (ADPR), Major Osoba Olaniyi, the Division however confirmed the involvement of soldiers in restoring order in Lagos following the declaration of curfew by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The Nation reports this is the first time the division is speaking about the incident that occurred last week.

It said: “The attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilian protesters were massacred by soldiers at Lekki Toll Plaza. This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country.

“At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian. From the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos were involved.

“However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government (LASG) after a 24- hour curfew was imposed.

“This was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.

“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.

“The intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for Internal Security operations and all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Internal Security operations.

“Finally, Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army reiterates Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities did not shoot at any civilian as there are glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact.

“This allegation is the hand work of mischief makers who will stop at nothing to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Army. The general public is hereby enjoined to discountenance this allegation as there is no iota of truth therein.”

Published in News & Stories

By Kazeem Ugbodaga/ PM NEWS

Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode has faulted Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the number of people who died at the Lekki Tollgate when soldiers opened fire on #EndSARS protesters.

Fani-Kayode said the governor had few days ago said no person was killed, but that he told CNN on Monday that two people died.

He said by tomorrow, the governor would be forced to admit to the world that even more were killed.

Fani-Kayode also said Sanwo-Olu rightly said soldiers did the killing, but asked whether those who removed the CCTVs, street lights and tollgate were soldiers too.

He said it appeared that few people in Sanwo-Olu’s government might have had a hand in the barbaric act of terror.

In his words: “Jide Sanwo-Olu, a few days ago, you told the Nigerian people that no-one was killed at the #Lekki tollgate Massacre.

“Yesterday you told CNN that 2 people were killed. Tomorrow you will be forced to admit to the world that even more were killed.

“The noose is tightening! You said soldiers did the killing and you are right. But were those that turned off the CCTV cameras, the street lights, the toll gate lights & the bill board lights soldiers too?

“It appears that a few people in your Govt. may have also had a hand in this barbaric act of terror!”

Published in Business and Economy

By Kazeem Ugbodaga/ PM NEWS

President Muhammadu Buhari has presented the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, for a second term in office.

In a letter to President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the President said in accordance with the provision of Section 154 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), “I am pleased to present for confirmation by the Senate, the nomination of Professor Mahmood Yakubu for appointment as Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a second and final term.”

Prof Yakubu was first appointed by President Buhari in November 2015.

Yakubu was born in 1962 and is a Nigerian academic and current Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Mahmood was appointed to office by President Muhammadu Buhari on 21 October 2015, succeeding Amina Zakari, who served as acting chairman in 2015.

Yakubu is a lecturer, guerrilla warfare expert, and Professor of Political History and International Studies at the Nigerian Defence Academy.

Prior to his appointment as Chairman of INEC, Mahmood served as the executive secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, being appointed to office in 2007 by then-President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

During his tenure as secretary, a National Book Development Fund was established, supporting 102 journals of professional associations.

Yakubu also served as Assistant Secretary of Finance and Administration at the 2014 National Conference. In 2013, he was awarded an honorary fellowship to the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.

On 7 January 2019, he released a new voting system for the 2019 general election.

Published in Headliners

By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt/ PM NEWS

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has vowed to stop any move by the proscribed Indigenous Peoples Organisation of Biafra (IPOB) to annex any part of the state or hoist its flag.

He therefore charged the 23 council chairmen, and youths in the state to fish members of IPOB in the State.

Wike also warned that any council chairman who allowed IPOB to hold processions and hoist its flag within their jurisdiction in Rivers State, risked sack.

He made this assertion during a meeting with all the 23 Local Government chairmen, Community Development Committees and youths leaders at the Government House, in Port Harcourt on Monday.

The governor described Rivers state as the most accommodating state for all Nigerians. To buttress this, he stated that there had never been any historical incident of different ethnic groups clashing in the State as had been the witnessed in other parts of the country.

“We can never be against any ethnic group. We can never do that. We have lived in harmony with the Igbo, the Hausas, and with Edo people. Everybody that comes to this state we have lived in harmony with. And so Nigerians must commend Rivers State as a place where you have never had problem between this group and that group ” he said.

Wike, however, maintained that while the people of Rivers State believe in the unity of the country, they will not allow criminals under the aegis of a terrorist group called IPOB to continue to threaten the stability of the state.

“There is one terrorist group they call IPOB. I did not declare them terrorist group, the court declared them terrorist group. Not me. The federal government declared them a terrorist group. IPOB cannot use Rivers state to be place where they will be launching attack. If you allow that, your future, your children’s future is gone,” he said .

Infuriated by IPOB’s effrontery to hoist its flag in Oyigbo, the governor directed the council chairman to ensure there will not be another occurrence of this treasonable act.

“Go to Oyigbo and see what they have done. Destroyed the Court. What did the Court do? See the soldiers they killed and burnt them. See the Policemen they killed and burnt them and then you said people will sit and fold their arms.”

The governor, while calling for vigilance on the part of Rivers people, however, warned sternly that IPOB members should not delude themselves because Rivers State could not be colonised or annexed by any group, particularly, while he is still the incumbent governor of the State.

He asserted that Rivers State could never be annexed to any state, to any zone.

According to him, Rivers State is Niger Delta and would remain in Niger Delta.

He explained that while every Nigerian was allowed to reside in Rivers State, but that those who wished to do so must live in peace with the people of the State.

“Igbos are living and doing their business here and they will continue to live and do their business here. We support that. But that terrorist group call IPOB, cannot determine what happens in our state. To tell us where they own. It will never happen and we must not allow it to happen.”

Wike charged all chairmen of councils, youth leaders, CDCs to go into their various communities and identify all those IPOB members.

Meanwhile, he emphasied that nobody of Igbo extraction legitimately residing and doing business in the state must be harassed.

“But there are criminal elements that we must not allow, and the criminal elements are those who said they are IPOB members. Federal government has proscribed them, I have proscribed them,” he said.

He called on the people to defend the territory of Rivers State and ensure no part of the State was annexed by a criminal organisation or terrorist organization.

“We cannot allow it. All our vigilantee groups must be encouraged. Everybody must be at alert. Work with the security agencies to make sure nothing call IPOB exists in this state. No procession. Not even a meeting anywhere. Identify where they hold meeting,” he said

Published in News & Stories

By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja/ THE NATION

Victims of the #EndSARS protests would get justice, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured.

Those who lost loved ones and properties in the mayhem that trailed the protests would also be served justice, the President said.

He urged Nigerians to maintain peace and order to avoid the dire consequences of vandalism on economy.

“Looting and vandalism will hurt trade and investment growth in our country – both large and small industries, as well as our hardworking people in the informal sectors of the economy,” the President said.

The justice system, he said, serves recompense to all who have killed, raped, robbed, committed arson and other forms of criminalities in the last few days.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu, the President Buhari explained why he had refrained from speaking on the Lekki Toll Gate incident because of the ongoing investigations.

According to him, he wanted all facts to have been assembled before making any comments.

He stressed the importance of the police and other security agencies to move everywhere to restore calm and normalcy as quickly as possible.

The President, however, expressed his full support for the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State government.

He expressed optimism that the panel, billed to begin sitting today, will assist the nation in giving justice to peaceful protesters who lost their lives, security operatives who were murdered and property owners, whose assets were vandalised and looted.

Buhari appealed to Nigerians to maintain peace and brotherhood as the machinery of government and the wheel of justice turn against the perpetrators of murder, arson, stealing, rape, assault and malicious damage to public and private property.

He reiterated that that peace, brotherhood, and inter-communal harmony remain central to “our ethos”, urging Nigerians “not to turn against one another in hate.”

The President assured that his administration would not relent in working hard through many pragmatic ways to reduce the hardship of the millions of our unemployed, poor citizens and those whose lives have been thrown into disarray by the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He warned that resort to widespread attacks and the organised looting and plundering of public and private property in many states are inimical to public good and stand condemned.

The statement reads: “A government that has launched a massive crackdown on corruption, brought in strong laws for a decisive battle against corruption, pursues loot recovery at home and abroad, and taken strong decisions against those who thought they were above the law, will not fold its arms when an otherwise legitimate and peaceful protest is turning into free-for-all vandalism and looting.

“While the administration has, for its part, blocked so many means of looting public money in a war against corruption, it is the expectation that all civil authorities, community and religious leaders in the country must rise against the organized looting and plunder we are witnessing in parts of the country.

“Families must turn back children who bring home unaccounted goods, in the same way wives must ask their husbands to return looted items brought home.”

Speaking on the ongoing breakdown of order in parts of the country, the widespread looting and other forms of criminal activities, President Buhari noted that these have the capacity to further destroy the economy as foreign investors would not be eager to bring their resources to an unsafe and disorderly environment.

He said: “What is more is that criminal actions as we have so far witnessed, can weaken and erode the confidence of our people and that of foreign businesses in investing in the economy.

“These incidents do not reflect well on any society. They are wrong and condemnable and should not be supported by reasonable members of the society.”

President Buhari commended the decision of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice to prosecute 229 suspects arrested by the police for allegedly using the #EndSARS protest to destroy and loot public and private property.

The statement further reads: “As mentioned in two successive statements on the issues, the President and his administration have taken note of the grievances of the people.

“We have heard you loud and clear and have shown a clear determination to take all necessary measures to address the complaints. The violence must stop.”

President Buhari also condemned hate messages and eviction notices to ethnic and religious groups, asking Nigerians to take pride in the fact that our diverse people have been living with one another in harmony for ages.

“The right of all citizens to live and work in any part of the country is a constitutional right and will be defended by the government,” the President said.

Published in Headliners
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