The Nigerian Army on Saturday, November 21, admitted that soldiers were given both live and blank bullets; during their deployment to quell #EndSARS protests at the Lekki toll gate on October 20.
This admission comes in the wake of repeated denials by the Nigerian Army and the Federal Government over the usage of live rounds at the incident.
“The soldiers were both given both live and blank bullets. In this particular case, we saw that these protests had been infiltrated by some hoodlums,” Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo said in his testimony to the Lagos Judicial panel of inquiry into the incident.
“You had peaceful protesters no doubt. But there were also hoodlums who sought to take advantage. That is why they were armed [with] blank bullets; in addition to the live [bullets] they were carrying.”
This is the first time the Nigerian army has admitted having live rounds at the Lekki toll gate.
This stance also contradicts previous statements about the incident; including from Brigadier Taiwo himself who told the judicial panel previously that the soldiers were firing in the air; and firing blank ammunition.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the Nigerian Army denied any involvement; describing reports of the incident as “fake news;” before backtracking and saying that soldiers were present but fired their weapons in the air and used blanks, not live rounds.
Saturday’s admission by Nigeria that live rounds were deployed is yet another in a series of constantly changing narratives as to what happened at Lekki toll gate, where protesters had gathered to demonstrate against police brutality.
On Thursday, Minister for Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said that the military “fired blank ammunition in the air.”
Meanwhile, a lawyer for the #EndSARS protester in Lagos, Adesina Ogunlana, on Friday, November 20, insisted that the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, must appear before the Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing last month’s alleged killing of protesters by soldiers in the Lekki area of the state.
Ogunlana issued the petition against Sanwo-Olu at the resumed sitting of the panel on Friday; stating since the military claimed that they were invited by the governor, it is important for him to appear before the panel to demonstrate his professed belief in the rule of law.
1st News had reported the Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo, during his cross-examination by the panel, said the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, ordered the deployment of soldiers to the tollgate following a request by Sanwo-Olu.
It was on this premise that Ogunlana insisted that Sanwo-Olu must appear before the panel; saying his evidence would put things in the balance.