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16.11.2021 EndSARS Watch FLASHBACK: ‘Massacre Without Bodies’ — Lai Mohammed’s Statements on Lekki Tollgate Shooting

Published 16th Nov, 2021

By Emmanuel Uti

On Monday, the Lagos State Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS-Related Abuses and Other Matters presented a 309-page document admitting that there was a massacre at Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020, to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

In the report submitted to the governor at the state house in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, the panel said soldiers shot blank and live ammunition at armless protesters with the intention to kill and maim them.

“The soldiers actually shot blank and live bullets directly and pointedly into the midst of the protesters at the Lekki Tollgate, with the deliberate intention to assault, maim and kill,” the statement partly reads. “The soldiers turned back ambulances that were invited to render first aid and assistance to the wounded protesters.”

READ ALSO: BREAKING: Lagos #EndSARS Panel Admits There Was Massacre at Lekki Tollgate

After several of weeks of protests against police brutality in Nigeria, soldiers drafted from the Bonny Cantonment in Victoria Island, Lagos, opened fire on armless young protesters at the Lekki Tollgate and killed scores.

While survivors and some media organisations, including FIJ and CNN, upheld the narrative of a brutal murder of innocent Nigerians by their own soldiers following extensive investigations, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, seized different opportunities to deny the incident, dilute the narrative and denigrate its promoters.

FIJ highlights some of the minister’s statements here.

‘MASSACRE WITHOUT BODIES’

“The purveyors of fake news and disinformation succeeded in deceiving the entire world that there was mass killing in Lekki, even when till date, not a single body has been produced and not a single family or relative has come out to say their child or ward was killed at Lekki Tollgate,” the minister said at a press briefing on Thursday, November 19, 2020, in response to CNN’s investigation.

“Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report yesterday. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going round and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor peice of journalistic work by a reputable international news organisation.

READ MORE: PORTRAITS OF BLOOD (II): Names, Photos, Videos… How Lekki #EndSARS Protesters Were Massacred

“The first instance, CNN which touted its report as an exclusive investigative report, sadly relied on the same videos that have been circulating on the social media without verification. This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that.

“Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the Lekki Tollgate that evening? The answer is no. On what basis were they reporting? Relying on second or third-hand information and presenting it as CNN investigations? Why didn’t the CNN balance its story by showing the compelling testimony of Grigadier-General Taiwo before the judicial panel in Lagos?

We insist that the military did not shoot at the protesters at the Lekki Tollgate. They fired blank ammunition in the air. Again, anyone who knows anyone who was killed at the Lekki Tollgate should head straight to the judicial panel with conclusive evidence of such.

“At this point, it is important to state that the federal government is satisfied with the role played by the security agencies, especially the military and the police. If there is anybody who knows anybody whose son or daughter or ward is missing or who was at the tollgate in Lekki on the 20th and is unaccounted for, such fellow should please proceed straight to the judicial panel.

“We would not do anything unlawful or purely as a vengeance. The state authorities must not be impeded in investigating anybody, provided they do so lawfully.”

‘PHANTOM MASSACRE’

While protesters gathered at strategic points, including Lekki Tollgate in Lagos, on October 20, 2021, for the one-year remembrance of peaceful protesters murdered by Nigerian soldiers, Mohammed again did a press briefing where he described the incident as a “phantom massacre”.

“At earlier press conferences, I had called the reported massacre at the toll gate the first massacre in the world without blood or bodies. One year later, and despite ample opportunities for the families of those allegedly killed and those alleging a massacre to present evidence, there has been none; no bodies, no families, no convincing evidence, nothing. Where are the families of those who were reportedly killed at the toll gate? Did they show up at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry? If not, why?” the minister asked reporters.

READ ALSO: EXCLUSIVE: Forensic Report Uncovers ‘Conscious Manipulation’ of Lekki Toll Gate Cameras by LCC During #EndSARS Protest

“Sadly, the champions of a massacre at the Lekki Tollgate, including Amnesty International and CNN, have continued to shamelessly hold on to their unproven stand. Recall, gentlemen, that after bandying different figures, Amnesty International finally settled at about 12 people killed. On its part, CNN went from 38 people killed to two to just one, after a supposed global exclusive even when the network had no reporter on ground at the Lekki Tollgate on Oct. 20th 2020.

“In a report currently running on the network, CNN brazenly and unashamedly held on to its flawed narrative, relying on an unidentified mother whose son was reportedly shot dead at Lekki, but without convincing evidence of who shot him dead. The same CNN that tweeted on Oct. 23rd, 2020, that 38 people were shot dead at Lekki is now struggling to convince the world that one boy was killed at Lekki. What a shame!”

Mohammed relied on a testimony of ballistic experts which he said was before the Lagos judicial panel. According to him, it “contradicts the tales by the moonlight by Amnesty International, CNN, a runaway DJ (DJ Switch) and their ilk” that there was a massacre at the tollgate.

While demanding apologies from those promoting the massacre narrative for “misleading the world”, the minister restated the federal government’s position that “the military did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th 2020”.

“The only ‘massacre’ recorded was in the social media, hence there were neither bodies nor blood,” he said.

In January, FIJ published an investigation which revealed that at least 20 people died in the aftermath of the October 2020 shooting of youths protesting police brutality.

Some of the names mentioned in the investigation made Lagos judicial panel’s list of 48 victims of the October 2020 massacre.

Published 16th Nov, 2021

By Emmanuel Uti

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