The Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses And Other Matters, has blamed the Lagos State Govrnement for the presence of the army at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020 where #EndSARS protesters had converged.
The panel held this in its report which it submitted to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Monday.
It would be recalled that the panel in the same report indicted the army and the police in the killings and maiming of some of the protesters.
The panel said it did not see the need for the military presence since the Lekki protesters were peaceful.
It said “The Panel finds that the mayhem and violence recorded in other parts of Lagos State did not happen at the Lekki Toll Gate, so there was no need for any apprehension on the part of the government or the security agencies to seek to dispel that peaceful
assembly, with soldiers bearing lethal weapons.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended, in section 40 grants the right of assembly and association, freedom of movement in section 41 and freedom of expression in section 39. There was thus no need for deployment of soldiers to the Lekki Toll Gate to disperse peaceful protesters in flagrant violation of these entrenched fundamental rights.”
It added “The Panel finds that the ineffectiveness of the Police cannot be a justification for the
invitation of the Army to Lagos state and the deployment of the Army to the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20th 2020, for the following reasons, amongst others:
“The EndSARS protest at the Lekki Toll Gate was largely peaceful, organized and orderly;
” No single serious or threatening reports of fighting, robbery, attacks, bloodshed or violence emanated from the Lekki Toll Gate before and on the day of the incident of 20th of October 2020;
“The Constitution guarantees to every citizen the right to peaceful protest, which at times may result in civil disobedience;
” Given the number of people gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate, an invitation of the Army to Lagos State and deployment of the Army to disperse such peaceful gathering should not be an option for a government that had already opened up dialogue with the protesters.
” The Panel finds in the light of all the above that issue of whether or not the Army kept to any particular rules of engagement is immaterial since the invitation of the Army to
Lagos state and the deployment of the Army to Lekki Toll Gate in the first place was totally unwarranted.”