Army to appear before Lagos State Panel of Inquiry on Saturday
Post created on 10:53 am
The Nigerian Army, contrary to its decision last week, will appear on Saturday before the Lagos State Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged shooting of #EndSARS peaceful protesters by soldiers on October 20 at the Lekki tollgate.
Sources close to the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel confirmed on Thursday that the army had acknowledged the panel’s invitation and the panel had fixed Saturday (November 7) for its appearance at the hearing taking place at the Lagos Court of Arbitration, Lekki.
Recall that for two weeks last month, youths calling for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police protested across the country. In Lagos, the protests assumed a tragic dimension when soldiers shot protesters at the Lekki tollgate. The shootings have attracted local and international condemnations with Amnesty International saying that no fewer than 12 people were killed.
On November 1 the Lagos State panel had invited the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, whose soldiers were alleged to have carried out the shootings. But the spokesman for the Nigerian Army, 81 Division, Lagos, Major Osoba Olaniyi, said the army would not honour a summons from the panel as the army believed that it was not the panel’s “duty” to invite the army. Olaniyi had stressed that the military would only appear before the panel if it received an invitation directly from the Lagos State Government, rather than the panel.
But on Thursday, multiple sources confirmed that the army had changed its position and would be presenting its case before the panel on Saturday. One of the sources close to the panel, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The whole world is watching us and all eyes are on the panel, especially in respect of the Lekki Tollgate. The Army is critical to the work of the panel and it will erode public confidence in the government if any of its institutions snubs the panel with impunity. After all, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, so how can the army openly defy the Panel that its own Commander-in-Chief has endorsed?”
The source equally dismissed the fear that the panel might not be objective since it was set up by the Governor of Lagos State, whom the Army said called for the soldiers who engaged the peaceful protesters at Lekki tollgate.