|[files] An aerial view shows protesters gathering at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, on October 15, 2020, during a demonstration to protest against police brutality and scrapping of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Pierre FAVENNEC / AFP|
Amnesty International on Thursday said the United States could have taken more time to evaluate all available evidence before publishing its reports on the October 2020 Lekki toll gate shooting.
The US government, in its 45th annual human rights report, said “accurate information on the fatalities” from the shooting remained fuzzy, noting that apart from “Amnesty International which reported 10 persons died during the event, no other organization was able to verify the claim.”
“One body from the toll gate showed signs of blunt force trauma. A second body from another location in Lagos State had bullet wounds. The government acknowledged that soldiers armed with live ammunition were present at the Lekki Toll Gate. At year’s end the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution continued to hear testimony and investigate the shooting at Lekki Toll Gate,” the report noted.
The US report generated controversy as many have claimed there are evidence to ascertain that protesters were killed by Nigerian troops.
Amnesty International Nigeria’s chief Osai Ojigho told Peoples Gazette that the testimonies of witnesses at the Lekki Toll Gate affirmed that soldiers fired live rounds at demonstrators as against claims of firing blank bullets in the air.
“Amnesty International stands by its initial findings that in October we released based on the information that we’re able to independently verify as at that time and we’ve continued to encourage the state government and the federal government to do justice by the people,” Ojigho said.
“Amnesty International had asked for independent and transparent investigations into what really happened at the Lekki Toll Gate and we still haven’t seen that and that is what is really worrisome especially because a lot of people will not be able to move on until justice is served.”
Ojigho further stated that her organisation stands by its initial findings based on the information it was able to independently verify as at that time.
“There have been other reports by other organisations and also shared on social media attesting to the fact that different people who were located at the Lekki Toll Gate at the time of the incident were reportedly killed,” Ojigho said.
“CNN carried the report about a young man that died and when the younger brother called the phone number and people picked the call and they claimed that ‘this is not your brother, your brother is dead.”
She said “there are still a lot of unclaimed bodies in many of the Lagos state hospitals and it raised the question ‘who are those people?’ ‘Would they be allowed to be investigated?’
“Check whether these are people who suffered gunshots for example how long they have been there in order to rightly pinpoint the time they were in.
“If you look at the Amnesty report, we were able to use satellite imagery and information which were picked through verified accounts to show the movement of officers to the Lekki Toll Gate,” she said while adding that “the issue now really is not about government just giving a blatant denial but about how they need to carry out investigation without any fear.
Ojigho noted that until justice is served in the Lekki killings, Nigerian authorities will continue to carry out grievous human rights abuses.
She said although the issues on #EndSARS are ongoing, the U.S. report “is meant to show an unbiased assessment of the current state of affairs with the country.”
“Right now, people are still careful to be publicly identified and this is what has been used by many that they haven’t seen anyone come forward on what really happened,” Ojigho said.
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