Apologize to youths, memorialize Lekki Toll Gate, declare Oct 20 public holiday, Lagos #EndSARS panel tells FG

Apologize to youths, memorialize Lekki Toll Gate, declare Oct 20 public holiday, Lagos #EndSARS panel tells FG

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters has urged the Federal Government to immediately take urgent steps to assuage the ill-feelings of the youths and ensure restitution, healing and reconciliation in the aftermath of the October 20, 2020 killing of unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate.

1st News reports that the above formed part of a list of 32 recommendations submitted by the panel in its report.

The panel noted that the move would go a long way in bringing about closure for the victims of the incident; their families and loved ones as well as aggrieved Nigerian youths. The recommendations were included in the report handed over to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Monday, November 15, 2021.

‘‘The Panel recommends that the Lekki Toll Plaza be made a memorial site for ENDSARS Protest: By renaming to “ENDSARS TOLLGATE”. The panel recommends that October 20th of every year, the day is made a “Toll Free Day” at the Lekki Toll Gate as long as the tollgate exists.

‘‘That Oct 20th of every year be made EndSARS day Nationally for the remembrance of our fallen youth. That for the purpose of restitution, healing and reconciliation; the Federal Government needs to publicly apologize to the youth for abruptly undermining the protest with their state actors.

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‘‘The Government should do all it can to bridge the gap of distrust with the Youth. A monument memorializing the lives lost and those injured at the Lekki Toll Gate with the names inscribed on the Monument,’’ the panel stated as part of its recommendations.

In addition, the panel, instituted by the Lagos State Government, has indicted and recommended disciplinary sanctions against two Army officers; Lt. Col. S.O. Bello and Major General Godwin Umelo for failing to honor the summons of the panel; while also calling for the dismissal of other soldiers and the prosecution of policemen; including the DPO of Maroko Division deemed culpable in the killing of unarmed protesters.

Also, it has called for the release of all those arrested in the course of the #EndSARS protest; prosecution of those that may have committed any offence that may be alleged against them; or their release where no prima facie evidence of culpability is preferred against them.

Meanwhile, it has also urged the speedy disbursement of compensation to the victims in cases emanating from the Lekki Toll Gate incident within one month.

Equally important, the report, a 309-paged document, was submitted to the Lagos State Government on Monday, November 15, 2021. Members of the panel include a Retired Judge of the Lagos State High Court, Hon. Justice Doris Okuwobi who served as Chairperson of the panel. Other members include Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN (Representative of the Civil Society); Rtd. D.I.G. Frederick Taiwo Lakanu; Patience Patrick Udoh (Representative Civil Society); Mr. ‘Segun Awosanya (Human Rights Activist); Mrs. Oluwatoyin Odusanya (Director, Citizens’ Rights); Mr. Lucas Koyejo, Esq. (National Human Rights Commission); Majekodunmi, Temitope Oluwaseun (Youth Representative Nominated by the Youth) and Mr. Babajide Boye (Secretary).

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Notably, the panel, which was inaugurated on October 19, 2020, found that Nigerian Army troops deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate on the evening of October 20, fired live rounds at unarmed protesters; leading to the deaths of several protesters with many others injured. Specifically, the panel relied on testimonies of witnesses and protesters who were at the scene of the incident; as well as the evidence of medical personnel who attended to victims of the shooting.

Furthermore, it declared that the Nigerian Army troops deployed to the scene of the incident failed to abide with their rules of engagement; even as it held that the soldiers not only fired live rounds at the protesters, but also prevented first aid responders from getting to the injured – a development it said led to the increased death toll from the shooting.

Also, the panel found that policemen, notably from the Maroko division had followed up when the soldiers departed; shooting at and injuring some of the protesters while also threatening others.

1st News reports that the report of the panel brings to a conclusion the long-drawn saga of the events of the night of October 20, 2020; with the panel declaring the incident a massacre, in agreement with the position expressed by a number of Nigerians.


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