‘Soldiers deployed to stop Mayhem in Lagos’
Contrary to the narrative that Nigeria Army (soldiers) was deployed only to Lekki Toll Gate to quell the #EndSARS protests, the military, in its testimony yesterday, said it deployed its men across Lagos State on October 20, 2020 to stop hoodlums and other elements who had hijacked the peaceful protests, from perpetrating criminal acts.
In his testimony before the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution For Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters, the military, led in testimony by Brigadier General Ibrahim Ahmad Taiwo of the 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, told Justice Doris Okwuobi it deployed soldiers across Lagos State to stop the mayhem perpetrated by hoodlums that hijacked the protests.
Taiwo added that Governor Sanwo-Olu had called the Chief of Army Staff following which 81 division of Nigeria Army was ordered into phase four of Internal Security Operation before 4:00pm on October 20, 2020.
The army general, however, admitted that Sanwo-Olu does not have the authority to give orders to troops. He said the governor could only have made a request for them to be deployed.
The general said that Lagos had entered destabilisation stage at the time Lagos State government lifted the curfew without duly informing us “otherwise, we would have advised against such and asked that the curfew remained till Sunday,” Taiwo said.
“After some observation, the timing was shifted, it was not communicated to the Nigeria Army. Be that as it may, the Army was deployed immediately to forestall further violence and loss of life. This deployment, contrary to what was out there, was done through out Lagos State in anticipation of phase four of internal security.”
According to him, it was this state of affairs that made the governor to ask the army to take over since police had been ran over.
Taiwo said they were duty bound to intervene in such situation. He noted that the deployment of soldiers was all over Lagos State, stressing that the rules of engagement of internal security were strictly followed.
“It is the duty of soldiers to enforce law and order in conjunction with other security agencies,” Taiwo said.
Narrating the Lekki tollgate ordeal, he said that the 65 battalion acting under 81 division, Taiwo said, “When the military got to the tollgate, the police were already trying to deterred the people who want to burn the Oriental Hotel, the commander on the ground met the real EndSARS protesters on one side and the hoodlums at the other side. “The protesters started pestering the soldiers, throwing stones and bottles. The soldiers used blank ammunition to disperse the protesters. The genuine protesters sat on the floor. I was monitoring internet that night, after the soldiers have left, the hoodlums went back and burnt the toll gate.
He further explained the differences between live and blank ammunition. He said the live riffle will kill at 600m verocity if the riffle is shot at the close range.
Most looted businesses in Lagos owned by Igbos Taiwo that most of the business looted in Lagos were owned by Igbos. Gen Ahmed Taiwo made the assertion today while testifying before the panel.
Giving details of efforts by the army to quell the protest and lootings that erupted in Lagos, Gen Ahmed said that from his assessment the incident across parts of the city, most businesses that were looted belonged to Igbo business men and women.
He also asserted that the statement made by leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kalu that Igbos were mostly responsible for the mayhem in Lagos was not true.
“ In the wake of the protest in Lagos, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kalu stated that Igbos were responsible for the mayhem in Lagos. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
“By my assessment, most businesses looted during the protest were owned by Igbos.”Gen. Taiwo also stated the army would have been able to recover most looted items especially at the Lekki axis, had the Lagos state government not lifted the curfew imposed on the state.
Insisting that the lootings were a well coordinated plan, he noted that on two occasion when the state government lifted the curfew, army authorities were not carried along.
“On two occasions when the curfew was lifted in Lagos, the army authority was not informed. If the curfew had remained in place, we would have been able to recover the looted items from Shoprite Lekki, Sango-Tedo and its environs,” he said.
He also disclosed that the army evacuated over N2million from some banks that were damaged in Lekki area. He also said that the Nigeria Army is not looking for Celebrity Disk Jockey (DJ), Catherine Udeh, alias DJ Switch. He denied that it had neither threatened nor was after any #EndSARS protesters.
He added that there have been unverified social media reports that Switch has been granted asylum in Canada following alleged death threats over her involvement in the #EndSARS protest.
She had live-streamed the Lekki shooting via Instagram and alleged that some protesters were shot and that some victims were taken away by the army, a charge the military denies. He said the claim was false.
“DJ Switch claimed the Army was looking for her. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have bigger fish to fry. That is, how to stabilise Lagos.”
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