Lekki Shootings: Lagos Panel Lacks Power to Sanction Military, Says Legal Team

By Kingsley Nwezeh

Nigerian Army’s legal team has declared that the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS and Related Abuses, lack the powers to impose sanctions or punish any soldier found guilty for shooting #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza on October 20.

Leader of the team and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Kehinde Akinlolu made the assertion yesterday, while presenting a seven-page report to the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, at the Nigerian Army Headquarters in Abuja.

Akinlolu said the Nigerian Army was not under trial over the shooting, which allegedly resulted in the death of some protesters.

He said the Army was never summoned but was rather invited to shed light on what happened at the Lekki tollgate maintaining that “as such, there is no single petition against the military.”

Akinlolu berated media organisations, including the CNN of attempting to distract the Nigerian Army.

“It must also be borne in mind that we were able to establish that the Nigerian Army did not on its own volition set out to intervene in the crisis at the Lekki toll gate.

“The Lekki toll gate happens to be the area of passage to Epe corridors when the Nigerian Army was called upon that ‘look, this matter is getting out of hand,’ because we know very well that there are constitutional provisions for the civil authorities to call upon the NA to help when the civil police were overwhelmed as it was common knowledge, and that what exactly what happened in Lagos,” he said.

According to him, “we were able to show the footage, both oral and documentary evidence, and the panel also must bear in mind that it is a fact-finding panel.

“The panel has no capacity to ascribe any punishment or any sentence on anybody. The whole idea of setting up the panel of that nature is to help unravel what went wrong so that in future, necessary precautions will be taken.”

In his response, Buratai, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt. Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, said those who falsely and wrongly accused the Army of deploying troops to shoot innocent protesters at Lekki last month, “must be ready to swallow their pride and apologise to the Army and the country by the time the judicial panel concludes its fact-finding.”

“We are also looking forward and hope that all the people who have accused the army so badly will find the honour and grace in themselves, without pre-empting the Lagos State Commission of Inquiry, if it turns out that all the stories were made up to discredit the Army”.

He said: “we are also looking to a situation whereby most of those people will be honourable enough to swallow their pride and apologise to the Army and the country at large for attempting to destroy their own army and country, using false allegations and false accusations through the manipulation of social media.”

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