After an initial denial, the Nigerian Army has finally revealed that it was present at the Lekki Toll Gate, last Tuesday, on invitation by the Lagos State Government to enforce the curfew in the state.
It, however, debunked allegations that it shot at peaceful EndSARS protesters that night.
The army stated this, on Tuesday, in a statement by its 81 Division in Lagos. The statement was signed by its spokesperson, Osoba Olaniyi.
Olaniyi insisted that the soldiers acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement for Internal Security operations.
In the statement titled “Press release on alleged massacre of protesters at Lekki toll gate,” Mr Olaniyi described the allegations of soldiers shooting at protesters as untrue, adding that no soldier fired a shot at the protesters.
“The attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilians 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 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 for Internal Security operations,” the statement read.
Olaniyi added that there were “glaring and convincing evidence to attest that no protester was shot by the soldiers.”
Meanwhile, in an interview, Monday, with US-based Cable News Network (CNN), Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu had admitted that soldiers shot at the protesters.
He had also confirmed two casualties from the incident.
Eye-witnesses at the scene also confirmed a larger number.
Also, the Governor had denied invite soldiers or ask them to shoot at protesters.
Sanwo-Olu also said the CCTV footage of the incident would be available to the state judicial panel probing brutality of security operatives.
“We will be committed to a full investigation of what happened and people would be held accountable. They certainly would be held accountable. We would do everything possible to ensure that they are held accountable,” he said.
“People have claimed that their friends and family members have been killed. So, this Judicial Panel of Enquiry is meant to bring all of these stories to accountability; where we can make restitutions, where families can prove and identify officers that were responsible for this.
“I am not the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; I am Governor of a State. The report would be out and we would channel the report to all the relevant authorities in the state to ensure that every one that is found culpable is accountable for the act,” he said.
The Lekki shooting has been condemned by Nigerians and the international community who have called for investigation and demanded that culprits be punished.Follow us on social media