The Nigerian military has reacted to reports of an alleged indictment of the armed forces by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on police brutality and shootings at Lekki Tollgate during the #EndSARS protests, in its recently submitted final report. The military in its reaction faulted the procedure adopted in the release of the report saying that it was released through the wrong channel.
This was made known by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, while answering questions from journalists after a courtesy visit to the Edo State Governor, on Tuesday, in Benin-City.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Irabor urged Nigerians to continue to trust the military in spite of reports making the rounds of the Army indictment in the #EndSARs protest at Lekki last year, adding that the Armed Forces are not the police, but are only called upon when the need arises.
What the Chief of Defence Staff is saying
Irabor in his statement said, ‘’Whether it is a true report, I can’t tell. But I’d like to indicate that the normal procedure is to have such a report submitted to the convening authority. And then there will be a white paper that will be presented, based on which one can make informed comments.
‘’But whatever it is currently, I’d like to indicate that the Armed Forces of Nigeria is a professional armed force. We are peopled by Nigerians and we remain committed to the constitutional mandate. So we will not at this point think that Nigerians should make disparaging remarks regarding the Armed Forces of Nigeria, in the sense that we are professional armed forces. If there are issues, of course, we address them within the ambit of the provisions.
“It will not be right to disparage men and women who have worked so hard to ensure that the territorial integrity of the Nation is kept intact.
“So until I see the full report, I may not be able to say anything. But I can assure you that the Armed Forces of Nigeria is well disciplined and do not engage in the ignoble act.’’
In case you missed it
It can be recalled that on Monday, November 15, 2021, the Judicial Panel probing allegations of police brutality in Lagos State as well as the shootings at Lekki Tollgate during the #EndSARS protest in October 2020, in a brief ceremony, submitted its findings to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
According to media reports, the Judicial Panel accused the Nigerian Army of shooting, injuring, and killing unarmed, helpless and defenceless protesters, without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian Flag and singing the National Anthem.
The panel said that the manner of assault and killing could in context be described as a massacre adding that the conduct of the Nigerian Army was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances to render medical assistance to victims who required such assistance.