Lekki tollgate shooting: Judicial panel seeks evidence from CSOs

    •Bode George seeks tollgate dismantling

    Oladimeji Ramon

    The retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution set up by the Lagos State Government has called on civil society organisations to assist it with credible evidence that will assist it investigate the shooting of peaceful protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate last Tuesday.

    The Chairman of the panel, Justice Okuwobi, made the call on Monday while addressing journalists at the Lagos Court of Arbitration, where the panel will be sitting.

    The original mandate of the panel was to look into complaints of human rights violation against the men of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu later added the investigation of the Lekki tollgate shooting by soldiers to it.

    Justice Okuwobi said, “We are looking forward to memoranda from those affected by the unfortunate incident of the shooting at the Lekki tollgate plaza by the military.

    “We are relying on the civil society to assist the panel with credible evidence of the killings at the Lekki tollgate plaza. This is to ensure that there will be good evidence to assist the panel make appropriate recommendations in respect of all terms of reference of the panel.”

    Justice Okuwobi also disclosed that the panel had so far received 15 petitions against SARS officers, just as she assured complainants of prompt compensation on merit.

    She added, “If their cases are disposed of in a month or two, compensation, if recommended, should go to the victims immediately to assuage their pain.

    “The panel has received not less than 15 petitions relating to the disbanded SARS.

    “We are indeed ready to commence the public sitting. The petitions are here without the petitioners around; the panel will start full proceedings on Tuesday (today).”

    Meanwhile, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode George, has suggested the dismantling of the Lekki tollgate in Lagos, where #EndSARS protesters were allegedly shot at by soldiers last Tuesday.

    George said in the place of the tollgate, a monument should be erected to honour the memories of the protesters, who allegedly lost their lives after the shooting by soldiers.

    A statement made available to our correspondent quoted George to have made this proposition at a press conference in Ikoyi, Lagos.

    He said, “Let me advise that the two tollgates at Lekki should be dismantled entirely. The tollgates are now sacred grounds, where innocent lives were cut short abruptly.

    “At the Admiralty Circle tollgate specifically, where bullets rained on that black Tuesday, a monument should be erected as a permanent memorial to honour the young men and women, who stood up in peaceful protests against the ills in our society.

    “The protesters were lawyers and doctors; many were unemployed. There were artistes and musicians. There were Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and all ethnic tribes that make up the Nigerian federation. There were Muslims, Christians and many other faiths.

    “They ate together; they slept on that cold asphalt, both in the rain and in the soaring sun. There were no discriminations. There were no quarrels of any kind. They raised their own money among themselves. And more importantly, they demonstrated admirable accountability that is lacking in the larger society.

    “They called themselves the Soro Soke generation. They have spoken out loud and clear. Yes, we have heard them. And their brave deeds can never be forgotten.”

    George also berated the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, whom he accused of mocking the shot protesters.

    He said, “And what is the response of Tinubu to the premeditated killings at the tollgate? He strutted into the Governor’s Lodge gloating, laughing, joking, sniggering and boasting that he is still the Asiwaju of Lagos and the Jagaban to boot.”

    “He even mocked the wounded and the dead, questioning while they were there. And this is the man who falsely claims he is a Lagosian. His reaction is most insensitive, cruel, reprehensible and wicked.”

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