AMERICAN TV network CNN has published details of what transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State on October 20 revealing that many unarmed protesters were gunned down in cold blood by the Nigerian Army while singing the national anthem.
On October 20, Nigerian Army troops opened fire on unarmed protesters demanding police reform at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State, killing several of them. This cold-blooded murder sparked a national outrage across the country, forcing people to the streets, setting fire to public buildings and looting warehouses, shops and the homes of the wealthy.
However, since the incident, the Nigerian Army has been desperately trying to absolve itself of the shooting, claiming its soldiers did not kill anyone. Debunking this, Amnesty International said its crisis response experts investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirmed that security forces were present at the Lekki Toll Gate when the shootings occurred.
Now, CNN has added its voice to the debate with a piece that includes the relatives of victims who were killed during the incident. For instance, it claims that sometime after midnight on October 21, Elisha Ibanga answered a phone call from his older brother’s number during which the person on the other end of the line broke the news that his brother, Victor, had been shot dead at Lekki while protesting against police brutality earlier that night.
One eyewitness who saw Victor Ibanga’s death, told CNN the 27-year-old entrepreneur was shot in the head during the protest. Elisha added: “The person told me that the police took his body away.”
CNN has obtained and geo-located a photograph of Victor’s body lying in a pool of blood and wrapped in the white and green of the Nigerian standard and Elisha confirmed the photograph is that of his brother. The Ibangas are one of several families yet to locate the bodies of their missing loved ones shot at, first by members of the Nigerian army and then hours later by police.
Eyewitnesses told CNN they saw the army remove a number of bodies from the scene. Protesters who were present told CNN it was a massacre with multiple people killed and dozens wounded but local authorities have downplayed that account.
Lagos State’s Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, admitted to CNN that footage showed uniformed soldiers firing on peaceful protesters but claimed only two demonstrators were killed. He added then that there was not a scratch of blood at the toll gate when he visited and no families had approached the authorities saying they were missing relatives.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the army denied any involvement, describing reports of the incident as fake news before backtracking and saying that soldiers were present but fired their weapons in the air and used blanks, not live rounds. On November 14, during a judicial inquiry into the shooting, army representative Brigadier Ahmed Taiwo conceded that soldiers were present and shot at protesters.
Brigadier Taiwo said: “There’s no way officers and men will kill their brothers and sisters, I repeat no way. We have those who constantly seek to drive a wedge between us and between the citizens of Nigeria.”
He also said at the hearing that it was the governor who called soldiers to the scene because the police were overrun but Governor Sanwoolu has denied this, saying he does not have the authority to call in the army. However, the Nigerian Army has continued to restate that it did not fire live rounds.
An investigation by CNN into the disputed events has cast doubt on authorities’ shifting and changing statements. Evidence of bullet casings from the scene match those used by the Nigerian Army when shooting live rounds, according to current and former Nigerian military officials.
Verified video footage using timestamps and data from the video files, shows soldiers who appear to be shooting in the direction of protesters and accounts from eyewitnesses establish that after the army withdrew, a second round of shooting happened later in the evening. Since Elisha Ibanga learned of his brother’s death, he has been visiting hospitals in a desperate search for his remains and Peace Okon, 24, has not seen her younger brother Wisdom, 18, since he went to the protest on the night of the shooting.