A CNN report on endsars has exposed how Nigerian soldiers opened fire at a gathering of peaceful protesters killing dozens at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos, contrary to the army’s claims that such reports were false.
The video report by CNN’s Nima Elbagir recounts the event of October 10, 2020, during the endsars protests that engulfed the Nigerian space and later spread across various cities in the world.
Using time stamps, location data, forensic tracing and hundreds of eyewitness testimonies, CNN’s investigations established that videos shared online were genuine and proved that the Nigerian military indeed shot and killed dozens of unarmed protesters in Lagos on October 20.
This report is one of many that have refuted the Nigerian army’s claims that its officers did not kill protesters at the Lekki tollgate.
What Happened At Lekki Tollgate on October 20?
Nigerians, mostly young citizens, had gathered in Lagos, as part of a nationwide protest calling for the disbandment of a brutal police unit called Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) among other things. The protests wre tagged @EndSARS and trended globally on Twitter.
Protesters waved the Nigerian flags and sang the nation’s national anthem as soldiers deployed from Bonny Camp, a nearby military base, opened fire with live ammunitions killing dozens.
Footages of the killings flooded the internet showing wounded and dead victims. Reports say the army refused ambulances into scene.
Dj Switch, a popular disc jockey streamed the shooting on her Instagram live as another protester tried to remove a bullet from an injured victim.
The footages sparked outrage online and attracted condemnations from world leaders against the Nigerian government.
Nigerian Government and its military Deny the Killings
Despite video evidence and witnesses’ accounts, the Nigerian military authority dismissed claims of the killings as “fake news’.
Reports of the streetlights around the scene of the killings being put off and the CCTV cameras removed before the security agents stormed the venue suggest this act of insensitive and unprovoked killing of unarmed protesters was premeditated by the government.
CNN’s report also showed evidence of claims by victims that some of the bodies of killed protesters were taken away in military trucks and allegedly dumped in the sea at night.
Many families whose loved ones have gone missing since they participated in the protest believe they may have been killed and their bodies disposed by the military.
An attempt by a panel of enquiry, setup after the protest to investigate issues of police brutality in Nigeria, to visit the military morgue in Ikoyi, Lagos was stopped by the army authorities on claims of emergency maintenance.
Government’s Clampdown on Protest Promoters
After the endsars protests, the Nigerian government has began a systematic clampdown on key promoters of the protests.
Some members had their bank accounts frozen and others were arrested.
The country’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), obtained a court order to freeze the accounts of 19 endsars promoters in early November.
Some of the affected individuals are Bolatito Racheal Oduala, Chima David Ibebunjoh, Mary Doose Kpengwa, Saadat Temitope Bibi, Bassey Victor Israel, Wisdom Busaosowo Obi, Nicholas Ikhalea Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Lanre Yusuf, Uhuo Ezenwanyi Promise and Mosopefoluwa Odeseye.
Others are: Adegoke Pamilerin Yusif. Umoh Grace Ekanem, Babatunde Victor Segun, Mulu Louis Teghenan, Mary Oshifowora, Winifred Akpevweoghene Jacob, Victor Solomon, Idunu A. Williams, and Gatefield Nigeria Limited.
A government induced lawyer, Kenechukwu Okeke, sued 50 vocal Nigerians on trump up charges for their activities in promoting the endsars protests.
Modupe Odele, an outspoken lawyer and one of the endsars volunteers, was on her way out of Nigeria for her birthday this early November when she was arrested without a reason. Her passport was seized and she was briefly detained and later released.
Odele’s passport was later released to her without a substantial reason provided by the immigration authorities.
Peter Eromosele, a Lagos based musician, was arrested and detained for 10 days before he was arraigned in court for his involvement in the protest. The court granted him bail in the sum of one million naira with multiple sureties.
Eromosele has since perfected his bail conditions yet he is still being held up in detention by the Nigerian authorities.
Journalists and activists continue to leave the shores of Nigeria on forced exile as the government’s security forces target those who oppose the government of the day.