The federal government has continued to maintain its stance that no massacre took place at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State despite the contradictory report of a panel constituted to probe the incident.
The scene was where Nigerians demonstrated last year October demanding the scrapping of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The brutal unit accused of extra-judicial killings and other violations of human rights was disbanded by the action did not deter the youths to shelf the protests which took place globally.
On October 20, 2020, military personnel swooped on the peaceful protesters at Lekki tollgate and opened live rounds on them.
The government propagandist, Lai Mohammed, has repeatedly claimed no one was killed at the protest scene, code-naming the incident ‘massacre without bodies.’
Mr Mohammed, minister of Culture and Information on Tuesday, reiterated his earlier submission despite the Lagos Panel of Inquiry reporting that 9 persons were killed, 4 were presumed dead, 33 were shot and assaulted.
“It’s no longer news that the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry that investigated cases of police brutality as well as the incident of Oct. 20th, 2020, at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos has submitted its report,” the propagandist said at a press briefing in Abuja. “The submission happened while I was out of the country on national assignment.
”Unlike many commentators and analysts, we took our time to read and digest the report, and we are now well placed to respond.
”Without mincing words, let me say that never in the history of any Judicial Panel in this country has its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendoes, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence.
“What is circulating in public space is simply a rehash of the unverified fake news that has been playing on social media since the incident of Oct.20th 2020.
”It is simply incredible that a Judicial Panel set up to investigate an incident has submitted a report laden with allegations, the same allegations it was set up to investigate in the first instance. Instead of sitting for all of one year, the panel could have just compiled social media ‘tales by the moonlight’ on the incident and submitted, saving taxpayers’ funds and everyone’s time.
“That report is nothing but the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a vociferous lynch mob.
”Gentlemen, we have read some critical analysis of the report by a courageous few. One commentator, a lawyer, said it raised more questions than answers.
”Another commentator, a journalist, called it a ‘disgraceful report by a disgraceful panel’, saying it reported allegations instead of investigating the allegations.
”Yet another wondered how a Judicial Panel could use the words ‘massacre in context’ and equate such to a massacre.
”All these and many more have raised valid questions on that report. We salute their courage and refusal to be cowed by the rampaging lynch mob that has been screaming blue murder since the report was released.
“We do not intend to bore you by rehashing details of the discrepancies, innuendoes, inconsistencies and errors in that report. They are already in the public space.
“Let us, however, point out some key highlights of such discrepancies, errors, omissions, etc.i) – The report threw away the testimony of ballistic experts who testified before it.
“The experts said, inter alia, in their testimony: ”The Team, finds that from the medical data examined, including the timeline of arrival at medical facility and the nature of the injuries sustained by the Victims, who were taken to medical facilities.”
The minister dismissed calls for his resignation.
“There have been clamours for my resignation right from the day I took this office,” the minister explained. “So I take it in its strides.”