By Eromosele Abiodun and Nume Ekeghe
A former Director of the Nigerian Army Public Relations, Brigadier-General Sani Usman (rtd) yesterday in Lagos claimed that the bullets used by the soldiers at the Leki Tollgate shooting were those used for training and not live ammunition.
Usman also denied claims that the military removed bodies of dead protesters from the shooting scene, stressing that the possibility of that occurring is remote.
Usman stated this yesterday when he appeared on the Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise News channel, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers.
He said the military men are being called to intervene in civil matters if things take a different turn, where even family members cannot resolve their differences peacefully.
According to him, “When you look at this issue, you are forced to ask what the military is supposed to do in a security situation when called upon. Remember that the military are armed, and by nature of their training, they are trained to kill. There are procedures of taking over and handing over. But over time, given the peculiarity of the Nigerian society, where we have negated the time tested and trusted complex resolution mechanism that even among families, people are now throwing arms against brothers and sisters, what can you do in that situation?
“But most times, the military is called upon because we cannot afford destructions and killings of lives and property, and I think the military in its wisdom, instead of using live ammunition, decided to use blank armor which is meant for training, and I think they should be commended for that otherwise there could have been serious collateral damage.”
He added: “I don’t want to go into details because the Judicial Panel of Inquiry is working hard to unravel all these things, but there are clear procedures of when the police are overwhelmed and when the military is being called upon.”
On reports on gunshot wounds contradicting the blank armor claim, the retired general said: “We should allow the commission of enquiry to do its job, but at the same time, let me also look at it that there were a lot of key actors at that particular point in time, and instance that include well known celebrities and so-called big boys, and we know that some of them had body guards that are well armed and a lot of things happened.
“Thankfully I believe that there were video recordings that would be reviewed, but you can also understand the fact that definitely, the cartridges used were of that caliber I mentioned earlier. Therefore, it is the commission of enquiry that would determine who did what, and I think it is advisable we wait for that.