Lekki toll gate shooting could be a “massacre”


Lethal violence committed by Nigeria’s military on the night of October 20, 2020 could be considered a “massacre,” a government-appointed panel concluded in contradicting previous official accounts of the incident.

The Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution at the Lagos Court of Arbitration was charged with investigating last year’s notorious Lekki toll gate shooting in Lagos, when Nigerian security forces opened fire on young people protesting peacefully against alleged police brutality.

Its bombshell report – which took more than a year to produce – accuses Nigerian Army officers of having “shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenceless protesters, without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem and the manner of assault and killing could in context be described as a massacre.”

The panel also found “the conduct of the Nigerian Army was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances render medical assistance to victims who required such assistance. The Army was also found not to have adhered to its own Rules of Engagement.”

A news organisation investigation found the Nigerian army fired live rounds into crowds at Lekki toll gate, killing and wounding several people. Multiple witnesses said last year ambulances were prevented from entering the site to help wounded protesters.

Despite an abundance of video evidence, the Nigerian government has long denied that protesters were shot.

Last month, on the first anniversary of the shooting, Nigeria’s Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed described the incident as a “phantom massacre” and continued to dismiss the investigation as fake news.

The government and military did not respond immediately to requests for comment on the judicial panel’s Monday report, which cites CNN dozens of times.

Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the Lagos state government would implement the panel’s recommendations, according to local media.

“This will help in proper restitution and compensation for everyone wronged. I want to assure you, a white paper will be issued. I am going to constitute a committee to review the document between two weeks and bring out a white paper,” Sanwo-Olu said.