Nigeria’s Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) has replied the United States on its report on the October 2020 shooting incident at the Lekki Plaza during the EndSARS protest in the country.
In a statement released on Friday, Falana said the report attempted to cover up the brutal killings during the protest held last year.
Before now, the US Department of State’s in its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices has said that “accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end”.
In addition, “the communique noted that on October 20, 2020, members of the security forces enforced curfew by firing shots into the air to disperse protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos to protest abusive practices by the Nigerian Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Reacting, the Ekiti State born legal luminary, Falana, said the report is contradictory.
He faulted the report for not mentioning the detachment of the Nigerian army which perpetrated the mayhem.
Going further, Falana urged the Judicial Panel on EndSARS to ignore the report as it is designed to pre-empt the evidence being adduced by the survivors of the barbaric attack.
His statement reads “On the one hand the report claimed that the members of the security forces were enforcing curfew by firing into the air to disperse protesters at the toll gate. On the other hand the report stated that some protesters had turned violent after criminal elements infiltrated them and so the security forces fired at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“The report did not mention the detachment of the Nigerian army which perpetrated the mayhem. Do soldiers shoot into the air to enforce curfew in the United States?”
He added: “How can the United States Government be allowed to treat the proceedings before a properly constituted Judicial Panel of Inquiry so contemptuously? The report is prejudicial in every material particular.
“It should be ignored by the Judicial Panel as it is designed to preempt the evidence being adduced by the survivors of the barbaric attack. The report did not acknowledge that the Nigerian army which initially denied that soldiers were present at the Lekki toll gate later turned round to admit that they were there but fired only bland bullets.
“The Americans should update the report by explaining how casualties and amputees were recorded when the soldiers only shot into the air.
“Fortunately, more credible reports on the Lekki killings compiled by the progressive media outfits in Nigeria including The Punch, The News, Sahara reporters and Premium Times have been published. To their credit, these media bodies have published detailed stories on the killings.”
According to Falana, apart from the confirmation of the cold murder of two people by Governor Babajide Sanw-Olu of Lagos State, a senior surgeon from the Redington hospital has given evidence of the protesters that were treated for gun shot wounds.
“Is the United States Government not aware of the fact that some amputees who lost their legs as a result of the shooting have appeared before the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry?
“Following the dumping of scores of corpses from October 20-27, 2020 did the Lagos State Government not invite people whose family members were missing to identify the corpses at the Lagos State mortuaries? Did the Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond ASCAB not disclose that there were 98 corpses dumped in the mortuaries?
”From the information at my disposal, three of those corpses have been traced to Lekki. I also know a lady who disclosed that her adopted son died of gunshots at Lekki toll gate. My law firm has taken up the case of a 28-year old lady who collapsed at Lekki with head injury and later died at a hospital in Lagos,” he added.
Falana stated that the names of the casualties and amputees would be revealed at the appropriate time, saying that even President Buhari told the meeting of former leaders that 69 people, including 51 civilians, 11 police officers and 7 soldiers had been killed in the unrest.
He said “The President did not say if the figures included the protesters allegedly killed by Nigerian army in Lagos. Did the United States report probe the breakdown of the official figures? So, why should I rely on the very unreliable report compiled in Washington on the genocidal attacks on unarmed protesters by soldiers from the Barracks who were illegally deployed by the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai?”