Amnesty International, others fault Mohammed over #ENDSARS report
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Human rights organization, Amnesty International, Nigeria has faulted the claims of the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed over the Lagos #ENDSARS report.
The Minister of Information and Culture at a press conference in Abuja had described the leaked report as one laced with discrepancies and inconsistencies, and was unverified fake news. He insisted that nobody was killed at the Lekki toll plaza on October 20, 2020, and said the panel only wasted taxpayers’ money by coming up with such a nonsensical report, which he likened to ‘Tales by moonlight’, a 1990s television programme where fictitious stories and tales were told to children.
The Country Director, Osai Ojigho, on Tuesday, while appearing on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television stated that the Federal Government could not just dismiss the incident without verifying the evidence provided by the probe panel.
“I think the first thing is for us to establish the fact that there are different layers of government; so, what has been presented to the Lagos State Government, as we all know, is easy for the governments to communicate with themselves across board” Ojigho said.
“I think the minister, with his position in government, should liaise with the state authorities to clarify or check information with regards to the panel’s work. That would have been an ideal step…and to allow the state government to carry out its task in this regard.
“It is not surprising for us at Amnesty International that the minister, Lai Mohammed, continues to deny that unfortunate incident that happened on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki tollgate because we have seen in the last one year the constant attacks, the constant narrative that is geared toward gas-lighting the victims, survivors and witnesses, and the create an impression that people are just up to no good.”
She argued that there was a need for investigation into the happenings that occurred, not just only at the Lekki tollgate, but throughout the #EndSARS protests.
She maintained that people died in protests across the country and wondered why it was difficult for the authorities to address petitions, rather than targeting the human rights defenders, victims and witnesses.
Also speaking, the spokesman for the Southern Nigeria Frontier, Olufemi Lawson, said the outburst of the minister was not surprising.
Lawson noted that Mohammed had in the last one year done nothing but discredit the #EndSARS protests.
He stated, “Worrisome also is the deployment of our commonwealth by Mr Lai Mohammed to address claims so unfounded and merely sourced from an unsigned social media version of the judicial panel’s report even at a time that President Buhari had earlier asked various state governments to forward the reports of their judicial panels of inquiries to the Federal Government for consideration.
“The continued brazen denial of the information minister does not in any way undermine the fact that there was a massacre at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020, as already revealed by various local and international media investigation and we have no choice but to allow the minister to continually hold on to his assumption over the matter.”
A member of the panel, Segun Awosanya, said the reaction of Mohammed was one of the reasons why people did not trust the government.
Awosanya, while featuring on Politics Today on Channels Television, stated that the panel followed due process in carrying out its mandate, stressing that it would only respond to the state government, which set it up, and not Mohammed.
He said, “I often say that I don’t know how to react or respond to issues and I don’t know if it will be necessary to join issues with the Minister of Information. I don’t know in what capacity he is responding to the report that was submitted to the Lagos State Government and by extension to the National Executive Council.
“We have done our work and it is important to state clearly here that the panel members are quasi-judicial officers and they are bound in the discharge of the assignment to mirror as must as practicable, the hallowed conduct that befits the officers of justice. That means they must be detached, impartial and avoid joining issues with parties before them.”