Major Osoba Olaniyi, the acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations and 81 Division, has said the judicial panel set up by the Lagos government cannot invite the army to testify over the Lekki shooting.
Recall that protesting youths in Nigeria agitated for the end to police brutalization, extrajudicial killings and extortion of Nigerians.
The protesters demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit under the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police Anthony Ogbizi.
On Sunday, October 11, 2020, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, disbanded SARS following a widespread protest from Nigerians worldwide. However, it didn’t stop the youth from protesting, which led to the imposition of curfews.
Following the curfew, soldiers of the Nigerian Army invaded a peaceful protest at Lekki toll gate on Tuesday evening, October 20, killing #EndSARS protesters in the process.
An eyewitness of the massacre, Obianuju Udeh, a popular Nigerian disc jockey known as DJ Switch, last week Friday said she and other #EndSARS protesters counted 15 corpses at the Lekki toll gate when men in army uniform opened fire on peaceful protesters.
“We were teargassed. We would run and come back and the only thing we fought with was our flags. We would sit on the floor and raise our hands up, waving the flags and singing the national anthem. That’s all we had,” she said.
“The military were there killing Nigerian citizens. The police and SARS came and were doing the same thing, aiming and shooting. They were pointing the gun at us and shooting live bullets. Who takes live bullets to protest ground? Who does that?” she questioned.
The army initially denied involvement in the Lekki shootings, but later disclosed that its officers were invited by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to enforce a curfew imposed on the state last Tuesday.
Speaking in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, Major Olaniyi stated that the Nigeria Army cannot release the number of the names of the personnel deployed to the Lekki toll gate.
When asked the number of personnel involved, Olaniyi said, “It is against operational security. We don’t give that. It is against the policy of operational security. There is no problem here. The picture some people paint, as if we are fighting with the state government, is wrong.”
On the judicial panel, he said it was not the duty of the judicial panel to invite the Army to answer questions regarding the reported shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll plaza.
Olaniyi said, “If we receive a letter from the state, we will go. Are we not under civil authorities? Are we not part of Nigerians? Have you forgotten that we did not go there (Lekki tollgate) on our own?
“It is not the duty of the members of the panel to tell us that. If the state wants the (81) Division to come, they will write and we will oblige. See, if they have written to the division, it is our duty to go. It is not for them to go through the media as if we are scared of coming.
” It is the state government that constituted that panel of inquiry. So if anybody needs to get in touch with us to come, it is still the state and not members of the panel.”