In case you missed it, the Nigerian Army has admitted for the first time that soldiers were given live bullets when they went to disperse a large crowd at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos, where several peaceful protesters were killed and injured in late October.
The violent October 20 attack at the plaza caused both local and international outrage. Both Amnesty International and CNN have reported that at people died in the Lekki massacre while the Lagos state government said two people died and 20 were hospitalized.
Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo, Commander of the 81 Military Intelligence Brigade who appeared before the Lagos state judicial panel on Saturday, finally revealed that the soldiers indeed carried live bullets after weeks of denial.
“The soldiers, they were given both live and blank bullets. In this particular case, we saw that these protests had been infiltrated by some hoodlums,” he said, adding that the live bullets were for a backup.
Last weekend he testified that blank ammunition was fired upward to scare “hoodlums from the crowd,” but insisted that soldiers did not fire at #EndSARS demonstrators who were singing the country’s national anthem and waving its flags as they peacefully protested against police brutality.
The army had initially maintained that its troops were not at the site of the shooting, but later admitted they were deployed. Testifying before the panel, Taiwo said the military initially denied because it did not have its fact available.
“The first statement was born out of the fact that we did not have the facts available to us and the second was because nobody was sent to the Lekki tollgate to breakup any protest,” he said.
There have been calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to carry out an inquiry into the protest deaths, the latest a petition signed by 154 organizations. Also the British Parliament will on Monday debate a petition seeking to sanction the Nigerian government and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) over alleged human rights abuses during the #EndSARS protests.
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