A forensic investigation into the Lekki Tollgate incident of Tuesday, October 20, 2020, has revealed deliberate manipulation of CCTV cameras by officials of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) while Nigerian soldiers attacked protesters.
According to the report of the investigation conducted by Sentinel Forensics Limited, a group of predominantly UK-trained experts, and exclusively obtained by FIJ, the CCTV footage submitted by the LCC to the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS-Related Abuses was from a single camera which, although was in an automatic mode for the longer part of the footage, changed to a manual mode at about 6:48 pm on the day of the incident, two minutes before military trucks were strategically positioned at the tollgate.
“At 18:48:45hrs, the camera shifts from pre-set mode to what our analysts believe to be manual control mode as the code displayed on the screen changes from the pre-set 1-10,” the report reads in part.
“Distinctly, seven (7) military vehicles could be seen strategically positioned to the west of the administrative building, just before the toll booths, at exactly 18:50:12hrs, thereby also confirming the presence of military personnel at the scene.”
The report, which will be presented to the Lagos Judicial Panel on Friday morning, reveals that although shots were fired upward, soldiers also shot at protesters directly. Unusual movement of military personnel and trucks, and protesters carrying immobile victims also corroborate previous claims that protesters sustained varying degrees of injuries while others died from bullet wounds.
“At 18:53:05hrs, Tuesday, the 20th of October 2020, the ‘hue’ of the camera changed from coloured to what appeared to be night mode/grey scale mode, making it difficult to make out colours and activities. At no other time from the beginning of the footage on Monday, 19th October 2020, at 23:59:44 up to 18:53:07hrs on Tuesday, 20th October 2020, was this change from colour to night mission mode observed.
“Between 19:04:40 and 19:07:30hrs, the majority of the crowd disperses and there appears only a small cluster of protesters remaining at the tollgate, who are then surrounded by the military personnel.
“More military 4×4 pickup trucks drive in the direction the crowd has fled, further pushing them further back (eastward of the plaza) while military personnel, on foot, are still present with the remaining group of protesters at the tollgate.
“At 19:12:02 and 19:15:03hrs, movement of a small group of protesters from the cluster at the tollgate is observed. The movement pattern suggests the protesters were carrying an individual each at the aforementioned times, and making their way out of the area secured by soldiers.
“At 19:23:32hrs, muzzle flashes can be seen from where the military are positioned. Protesters are seeing fleeing toward the left of the flame, with flashes originating from the right, appearing to be angled in the direction of the fleeing crowd’s location.”
At about 7:48pm, shortly after the shooting, the camera returned to its original colour mode. According to the forensic experts, this timing raises suspicion.
“The ‘hue change’ from colour to night mode at 18:53:04hours alludes to conscious manipulation by the operators of the LCC camera, as it appears to have occurred at a very crucial moment when the quality of footage of the incident in colour mode might have provided better insights into the events occurring at that specific point.”
While stating that the lack of audio in the footage and the one-angle camera coverage that gave birth to it limited satisfactory examination, the experts advised that LCC operators be made to answer questions on the number of cameras that were functional at about 6:40pm on the said day, and reasons for the hue changes from colour to night mode.
On Saturday, May 8, Sarah Ibrahim, a freelance auditor and one of the coordinators of the #EndSars protest, had presented videos to the Lagos Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other Matters, to demonstrate that soldiers fired shots and killed protesters at Lekki Tollgate on October 10, 2020.
In an abridged version of Sarah’s video testimony, soldiers were seen firing shots in front of a crowd of young people at the tollgate. A large room said to be Reddington Hospital was also shown housing persons with varying degrees of injuries. According to Sarah, the hospital was so filled with injured #EndSars protesters that some were attended to at the car park.
Sarah’s testimonies corroborated a series of FIJ investigations which revealed that scores of people died from shots fired by Nigerian soldiers at Lekki Tollgate.
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