The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has described the Lagos State Government White Paper on the report of the Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters as an insult to the dead and the sensibilities of victims of the Lekki tollgate shooting which happened on 20 October 2020.
CAPPA also criticised Governor Babajide Sanwolu’s Peace Walk planned for an undisclosed date this month in commemoration of the #EndSARS movement, insisting that the event can be likened to dancing on the blood of victims of the Lekki shooting that have been denied justice one year after the incident.
CAPPA drew these conclusions following the release on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 of the 41-page White paper. In the report, the Lagos State Government accepted 11 out of the 32 recommendations made by the panel, rejected one outright, agreed on six with modifications, while 14, which it said, fell outside its powers would be forwarded to the federal government for consideration. It also rejected claims that nine people died at the Lekki toll plaza.
In a statement issued in Lagos, CAPPA said the White paper report and Governor Babajide Sanwolu’s remarks at a televised briefing in Alausa, brushed aside the most important recommendations of the report that have to do with the killing of innocent EndSARS agitators and the need to bring the perpetrators to book.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “The White paper report is not only disappointing, but also exposes how far the Lagos government and its federal collaborators will go to deny a known truth. But Nigerians are not deceived.”
Oluwafemi said that like the blood of Abel which continued to cry to heaven until Cain’s sin was discovered, the blood of the innocent youths murdered in their prime by the Nigerian police and army for standing against oppression and intimidation will not rest.
“The panel report mentioned names of the dead and victims that Sanwolu did not even acknowledge. Last week Kamsiochukwu was attacked with matchetes and Dabira Oluwa threatened by so-called unknown persons. Some of the Panelists have also threatened.
“Shockingly, Sanwolu turned a golden moment into a joke by proposing a Peace Walk to mark his own commemoration of the shameful events of last year. We refuse such a march. The real date we mark the fallen victims of the state’s mishandling of a peaceful protest is October 20, 2020.”
The report of the judicial panel established the fact that Nigeria’s Army led by Lt. Col Bello was at Lekki Gate on October 20, 2020, and further described the event of that day as a ‘’massacre in a context’’.
In the 309-page report, the panel confirms the Lekki shooting and goes further to publish the list of victims and casualties of the shooting, indicting the Nigerian Army and police of complicity in the death of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate.
Part of the recommendations of the panel included that all men of the Nigerian Army excluding Major General Omata that were deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, should be made to face appropriate disciplinary action and, or stripped of their status and dismissed, while disciplinary actions should be taken against Major General Godwin Umelo and Lt. Col S.O. Bello, who refused to honour the summons of the panel to frustrate the investigation.
“We align with the recommendations of the panel and reiterate our demands that criminal prosecution should be instituted against individuals found to have committed the massacre that happened on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos.
“Until the federal and Lagos state governments find the courage to own up to their failures and the murders during the EndSARS protests, genuine peace and justice will be elusive. No so-called peace walk will erase the events that happened on October 20, 2020,” Oluwafemi insisted.