Following the report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other matters, the United States Government as well as several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, on Tuesday called for action.
Responding to the report on Tuesday, the United States Mission to Nigeria said it welcomed the final report by the panel, adding that it awaits the response of both the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government.
In their statement: “The United States welcomes the conclusion of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry with the transmission of its final report. We look forward to the Lagos State Government’s response as part of a process that represents an important mechanism of accountability regarding the #EndSARS protests and the events that took place near the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.
“Those events led to serious allegations against some members of the security forces, and we look forward to the Lagos State and federal governments taking suitable measures to address those alleged abuses as well as the grievances of the victims and their families.”
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Edward Kallon, noted that the submission of the findings of the judicial panel would accelerate the process of justice and accountability.
Kallon said, “I welcome the submission to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of the reports of the judicial panel on claims of brutality and shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State during the 2020 #EndSARS protests.
“I urge the government to implement the recommendations of the judicial panel of inquiry to rebuild trust and start the process of healing and reconciliation.”
Global rights group, Amnesty International, released a statement titled, ‘Nigeria: Perpetrators must Face Justice after #EndSARS Panel Confirms Shootings of Protesters at Lekki Tollgate’.
In the statement, the Director, Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said the panel’s findings revealed the truth about what happened at Lekki tollgate and contradicted the blatant denial by the Nigerian government that deadly force was used against peaceful protesters.
The statement read in part, “For the survivors and relatives of the dead, the judicial panel’s report findings are only the first step towards justice and restitution. President Buhari must act promptly to ensure that those found to be responsible for shooting and attacks on peaceful protesters are brought to justice in fair trial.
“Nigerian authorities must ensure access to justice and effective remedies, including adequate compensation, restitution and guarantee of non-repetition to victims and their families. The authorities must also immediately and unconditionally release all #EndSARS protesters unlawfully detained since last year.”
Meanwhile, a Nigerian counsel for the Cable News Network, Olumide Babalola, has asked the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to tender an apology to the medium for tagging as fake an investigative report by the American media house.
The lawyer, in a statement on Tuesday, said the panel’s report had vindicated the CNN’s investigative report, titled, ‘How a bloody night of bullets and brutality quashed a young protest movement.’
Babalola recalled that the minister had railed at the CNN over the report, which he tagged ‘fake news’ and threatened sanction against the media house.
The lawyer, however, said in the light of the report by the judicial panel, Mohammed ought to eat the humble pie and apologise to the CNN.
The lawyer said, “Alhaji Mohammed had consistently claimed that the CNN’s report of massacre was false, but the panel has vindicated the CNN’s position on the gruesome and wanton killings at the Lekki tollgate.
“Without necessarily saying more on this, since the same minister had earlier called on the CNN to apologise for fake news, which has now been quasi-judicially proved to be true, one would think the honourable thing for Alhaji Mohammed to do, as an elder statesman and learned gentleman, is to apologise to the CNN especially.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria also called for the dismissal, arrest and trial of Mohammed for alleged falsehood as to what transpired at the Lekki tollgate.
The statement read, “As there has emerged undisputed evidence that indeed there was systematic annihilation of many civilian protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State last year October, we are asking President Buhari as a father of all to order the arrest and prosecution of his Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, for committing a grave and heartless offence that is equivalent to the denial of the Holocaust of the six million Jews by Adolf Hitler, which is punishable by nearly half a century of incarceration.”
Lai Mohammed had consistently described the Lekki incident as a “massacre without bodies.”