Fri, 10 Dec 2021

Nigerian Authorities Dismiss Lagos Panel Report on Lekki Shooting

Voice of America
24 Nov 2021, 04:05 GMT+10

ABUJA - Nigeria's Minister of Information dismissed a leaked report Tuesday blaming security forces for the deaths of protesters last year in Lagos state. The report from a nine-member panel of inquiry said Nigerian soldiers and police shot at protesters demanding an end to police brutality, killing at least 11 unarmed people.

Information Minister Lai Mohamed described the contents of the leaked report Tuesday as "fake news" during a press briefing in Abuja.

The minister said the report was inconsistent, ridden with discrepancies and that the panel's submission was influenced by accounts of the incident on social media.

'It is simply incredible that a judicial panel set up to investigate an incident has submitted a report laden with the same allegations it was set up to investigate in the first place,' Mohamed said.

The nine-member Lagos panel was constituted in October 2020 to look into claims of police brutality and investigate the killings at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.

Protesters had gathered there to call for the breakup of the notorious SARS unit of the Nigerian police.

Police officers detain a protester at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday Oct. 21, 2020. Police officers detain a protester at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday Oct. 21, 2020.

The panel found Nigerian military and police officers shot and killed at least 11 protesters at Lekki and injured dozens of others.

Civil rights groups and activists in the "End SARS" movement already are pushing back against the minister's statement. Ariyo Dare is co-founder of the Nigeria Liberty Center.

'He has lost touch with Nigerians and the reality of time. Everything that is being done against the End SARS report from Lagos is politically motivated. It will give the Lagos state government an opportunity to delete some part of the report and water down the recommendations,' said Dare.

Last week, the Lagos state governor set up a four-man committee to review the panel's report within two weeks and then adopt their recommendations.

FILE - A demonstrator paints 'End Sars', referring to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad police unit, on a street during a protest demanding police reform in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct, 20, 2020. FILE - A demonstrator paints 'End Sars', referring to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad police unit, on a street during a protest demanding police reform in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct, 20, 2020.

But activists say they cannot trust authorities to do the right thing. Obianuju Iloanya is one of the End SARS protest leaders.

'They will try to hide this report. We were even lucky that someone had access to take pictures and share on social media for us to even know some of the things that were contained in the report. But I assure you they'll try to hide it,' said Iloanya.

What will happen next is not known, but rights groups and End SARS activists say they will not rest until they get justice for victims of the Lekki shooting.

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