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Amnesty International says Nigeria is plotting to ‘cover up killing of protesters’

By Dennis Erezi
28 October 2020   |   4:06 pm
Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian government of plotting to cover up the killing of unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate last Tuesday. The rights group in a statement said, "Nigerian authorities’ must end their attempts to cover up the Lekki Toll Gate massacre." Amnesty International said it has proofs in a new timeline of…

Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian government of plotting to cover up the killing of unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate last Tuesday.

The rights group in a statement said, “Nigerian authorities’ must end their attempts to cover up the Lekki Toll Gate massacre.”

Amnesty International said it has proofs in a new timeline of investigation that shows the government that the shooting of unarmed protesters was done by state security forces.

“Photographs and video footage to confirm that Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base approximately a seven-minute drive from the toll gate, at 6.29 pm local time on 20 October.

“At approximately 6.45 pm, the Nigerian military opened fire on the #EndSars protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.”

Lagos State governor on Wednesday morning said there were no fatalities in the incident and blamed the shooting on “forces beyond direct control”. He later told CNN’s Becky Anderson that “persons dressed in military uniform” shot at the protesters and said everyone culpable in the attack “would be prosecuted”.

In an earlier interview, Sanwo-Olu tacitly told BBC’s Paul Henley that the military men were to be at the toll plaza at 10 pm and not earlier.

The army initially denied the involvement of its personnel at the protest scene. Six days later, the army said it was invited to the scene by the Lagos State Government but denied shooting at protesters.

But Amnesty International said on October 21 that at least 12 persons were killed at Alausa and Lekki. Both locations are in Lagos.

“What happened at Lekki Toll Gate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings,” said Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International.

“One week on, the Nigerian authorities still have many questions to answer: who ordered the use of lethal force on peaceful protesters? Why were CCTV cameras on the scene dismantled in advance? And who ordered electricity being turned off minutes before the military opened fire on protesters?

“The initial denials of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting was followed by the shameful denial of the loss of lives as a result of the military’s attack against the protests.”

Amnesty International said many people are still missing since the day of the incident but said it is still investigating the shooting and the reported removal of bodies of those killed by the military in an attempt to remove evidence.

Amnesty International called on Nigerian authorities “to bring to justice those behind the shooting and to protect those who are exercising their right to freedom of assembly.”