Wednesday, 19th January 2022
<To guardian.ng
Search
Breaking News:

On LASG white papers on Endsars panel reports – Part 2

By Ebun Adegboruwa
07 December 2021   |   3:47 am
The Panel considered the fact as confirmed in Paragraph 1.1 of WP2, that LASG identified with the cause of the EndSARS protesters and decided to allow them congregate at two main points at Government House, Alausa, Ikeja and LTG.

Protesters at the Lekki toll gate, October 20, 2020

The Panel considered the fact as confirmed in Paragraph 1.1 of WP2, that LASG identified with the cause of the EndSARS protesters and decided to allow them congregate at two main points at Government House, Alausa, Ikeja and LTG. Also, LASG had already commenced dialogue with the protesters with the Governor accepting to be their ambassador to the Federal Government.

(iii) Panel considered that in the circumstance of the above, the invitation and deployment of the military was totally unwarranted, especially at the LTG, while not faulting the decision of the Governor to restore law and order in other volatile areas of the State.

(iv) The Panel considered that firing live bullets at unarmed, peaceful and unresisting protesters which led to the death of some of them, was cruel and atrocious on the part of the military and the police. The White Paper ignored these explanations and findings by the Panel.

Cover up of massacre
WP2 in its Paragraph 3.0 did not address the findings of the Panel on the actions of certain agencies of government to cover up the Massacre, as follows:

(i) The Panel accepted the report of its forensic expert, Sentinel, that LCC manipulated its cameras in order to withhold material evidence;

(ii) That LASG did not secure the scene of the LTG Incident in order to facilitate proper investigation;

(iii) The Panel accepted the report of its forensic expert, Sentinel, that LAWMA cleaned up the LTG after the protests, thus destroying potential and useful evidence;

(iv) The Panel accepted the evidence of EndSARS protesters that police were trailing them in order to intimidate and scare them from open testimonies;

(v) That LASG did not release funds to conduct DNA tests on the corpses as was done in the cases of Dana Air and Synagogue Church.

These vital findings were not addressed by LASG in WP2 at all.

Alleged inconsistencies in the report of the panel
The LASG in its WP2 misconceived the findings of the Panel in relation to the Forensic Pathologist, Professor Obafunwa. The Panel did not state that Professor Obafunwa was the sole source of its conclusion on deaths at the LTG but rather adopted his testimony as one of the sources of confirmation of deaths.

Professor Obafunwa’s testimony related to 99 bodies which were said to have been picked by Lagos State Environmental Health Management Unit (LASEHMU). Three of these 99 bodies were said to come from LTG, based upon the descriptions and markings on the bodies by LASEHMU. As Professor Obafunwa did not pick these bodies himself and he was not the author of their descriptions, he did not give evidence of the place of death but rather the cause of death.

Findings on other deaths from Lekki Toll Gate
In Paragraph 16 at Page 296 of the Report, the Panel made the following vital finding:

“Panel finds the cases of death of or injured protesters as credible and uncontroverted”.

Panel then proceeded to list the names identified by the EndSARS protesters. This is not and cannot be inconsistent with the findings of the Panel on the testimony of Professor Obafunwa, contrary to WP2.

Evidence of deaths and injuries by eye witnesses
The Panel evaluated and believed the following testimonies in relation to deaths and injuries from LTG:

(i) Serah Ibrahim personally testified as an eye witness of shootings and deaths and the Panel believed her. She tendered videos and other documents in proof and she was not discredited under cross-examination.

(ii) Olalekan Salami personally testified before the Panel of dead bodies packed in the vans of soldiers wherein he was also taken for dead in the same van and the Panel believed him.

(iii) Dabira Ayuku personally testified about bodies packed in the vans of soldiers and the Panel believed her.

(iv) Onileowo Legend personally testified of deaths and injuries from the LTG and the Panel believed him.

(v) Videos of evidence of deaths from families and relatives of deceased persons from the LTG were tendered before the Panel, which it held to be credible as they were not discredited under cross-examination.

(vi) There were individual petitions (13 in number) relating to deaths and injuries (including amputations and multiple fractures) from the LTG which the Panel heard and believed, upon full hearing.

(vii) In addition to all the above, Professor Obafunwa led evidence and tendered documents relating to 99 dead bodies three of which he said were brought from LTG.

(viii) There was no contrary evidence offered in rebuttal of the above multiple evidence of deaths and injuries from the LTG.

(ix) The testimonies from the government were from Brigadier-General Taiwo on behalf of the Nigerian Army, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola on behalf of the Lagos State Government and the DPO of Maroko Police Station. All three of them stated that they were not physically present at the LTG on October 20, 2020 and they did not witness the event at all.

Duplication of names of deceased persons
In response to Recommendation 24 of the Panel, the LASG in its WP2 stated that the names of Kolade Salami and Folorunsho Olabisi appeared twice on the table as Nos. 37 and 38 at pages 297-298. This was a misnomer from the spreadsheet that ought to have terminated at Page 297 but mistakenly overlapped to Page 298 with the same names and same numbers. It was the computer error of the Secretariat of the Panel which could have been corrected as the Secretariat of the Panel was domiciled in the Ministry of Justice at all times. In any event, the mere fact of repetition of same names on a table cannot without more, nullify the uncontroverted evidence of death.

To be continued tomorrow

Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) was a member of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses (Panel).