By Paul Dada
Outrage is a befitting word to describe the reactions of Nigerians to the alleged shooting of unarmed EndSars protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza on Tuesday 20th October by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, never mind the fact they (the protesters) were defying the curfew order of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a subject for discussion on another date.
People became even more incensed when they learnt that there were causalities, never mind the fact that the alleged figure of the dead changed from 15 to seven. “Lekki Massacre” or “Lekki TollGate Massacre” became a popular phrase on the social media. Surprisingly, It was also used by a section of the regular news media including notable foreign media organisations like CNN.
Video “evidences” of the alleged massacre surfaced online. These elicited tears, screams and curses from not a few Nigerians. Nigerians who knew that they were living in a society where it was common for unscrupulous politicians to perpetrate impunity without any let-up and trigger-happy men in uniform to unleash their fiendish terror on innocent, defenceless and hapless citizens, were more than incensed.
Celebrity entertainer, DJ Switch who was present at the scene ran live video commentaries and made claims that soldiers killed people. She further alleged that soldiers took away the dead protesters in their trucks. In fact, DJ Switch emphatically stated that she and some other protesters carried the dead bodies and dumped them in front of the soldiers. Who would not believe an adored celebrity who was also an eyewitness? She became the world’s major source of information and she was named the hero of the night.
There was tension everywhere. Confusion set in for the military hierarchy and Government of Lagos State.
Governor Sanwo-Olu in his first formal reaction to the news of the shootings, said, “This is the toughest night of our lives as forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history, but we will face it and come out stronger,” the governor said.“I’ve just concluded visits to hospitals with victims of this unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki. “It has taken me this long to make a statement because I have to prioritise the welfare of the victims of this very sad incident.”
But later, the Lagos helmsman said his findings as of the time he visited hospitals where victims were taken showed that no one died at the scene of the shootings. In another statement he said two dead bodies were found in morgues although there was no enough evidence to link their deaths to the Lekki shootings. From the autopsies carried out on them, one died from blunt force trauma to the head while the second dead person, though from gun wounds was found on Admiralty road, a more than 3-kilometre stretch from the Lekki Toll Plaza.
“Two dead bodies, that is what we have seen from all the morgues, that’s what we have seen going to hospitals, that’s what we have seen as a record. What has happened is that there have been so many footages that were seen, that people have shown, but we have not seen bodies, we have not seen relatives, we have not seen anybody truly coming out to say I am a father or a mother to someone and I cannot find that person. Nobody has turned up. I have been to the ground, there is no scratch of blood anywhere there.
“From the footage that we could see, because there were cameras at that facility, it seems to me that they would be men in military uniform. That’s what the footage shows.” Sanwoo-olu said.
Not many people were satisfied with Sanwo-Olu’s position, not at a time when international human rights group, Amnesty International added its own twist as it claimed in a report that 12 protesters were killed at Lekki Tollgate by the Army. Although efforts to get the Amnesty International (Nigeria) to prove its findings met with a brick wall. An interview granted Arise TV, a television network in Nigeria by its Country Director, Osai Ojigho revealed a woman struggling to justify a claim as she could not present any evidence to back her claim that 12 protesters were truly shot at and killed at the plaza.
The Nigerian Army later admitted its men were at the Lekki Tollgate on the invitation of the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, but maintained that it shot only blank bullets to scare the protesters, an explanation which not a few citizens have said it is only fit to be told to the marines.
AN24.net observes that while there is no doubt that soldiers were at the scene on the night of October 20th and discharged bullets from their guns, there has yet to be any evidence that live bullets were used and people were consequently killed there.
One fact impeaching the claim of casualties at the scene is that so many pictures of the claimed massacre that went viral have been proved to be phony. For example, a photo of a man carrying a lady clad in blood-stained Nigerian flag was claimed on social media platforms as that of a #EndSARS protester shot by soldiers. But it was proved as fake as it was shown that the photo was from a play staged by the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Nigeria Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF). A Facebook user, Onyinye Francis who was part of the drama confirmed that the picture was taken during the presentation of the drama.
Click this link to read our report on fake pictures that went viral.
Another fact is that there were no traces of victims’ blood at the scene. Let us, for the sake of academic arguments asssume that live bullets were used at the scene and the soldiers made away with the corpses of their victims, wouldn’t there have been a blood evidence lending credence to the claim?
Our editorial team went further to know the amount of blood of an average human body and what happens if a human being is killed by the gun. Our findings further lend weight to the official position that no human being was killed at the Lekki toll plaza.
An average person carries between 4.7 to 5.5 litres of blood and when killed in a manner as described by DJ Switch, a person will lose between 2.5 to 4 litres of blood. One is confused on the the figure of fatalities. There are 15, 7 and 12 by Amnesty international.
Let us use 12. A simple arithmetic shows that there would have been nothing less than 30 litres of blood at the Lekki Toll Plaza if those 12 people as claimed by Amnesty international were truly killed.
Another pertinent point casting serious doubts on the claim of fatalities consequent upon the shootings by the soldiers is that there is no single video or picture showing that soldiers were removing dead bodies from the scene. While there is a myriad of videos and photos showing the presence of soldiers and confirming they engaged their guns, not a single one showed how they moved dead bodies.
Yet another fact worth noting is that the bullet casings found at the scene on the next day after the shooting showed that blank bullets rather than live ones were used at the scene.
Finally, no single person has come out to say they lost a relative or loved ones in the incident.
To ascertain the plausibility of the denial by the army that its men only discharged non-lethal bullets that day, AN24.net contacted ex-military officer and security consultant, Colonel Hassan Stan-Lambo (Rtd). Stan-Labo is a veteran with a wealth of combat operational experience garnered from four International missions and private corporate exposure and has been a security consultant, in-house analyst and research fellow to International Defence organisations.
In his chat with AN24.net, Stan-Lambo said casings seen at the scene showed that blank bullets were used by the soldiers. “Blank ammunition is not a weapon. At very close proximity, it can only cause light injuries. Blank ammunitions don’t kill. I am talking from experience. What kills is life ammunition,” he said.
Stan-Lambo said it was better to wait for the outcome of the investigation being carried out by the judicial panel set up by the authorities. But he said it was doubtful if anyone really died in the Lekki Tollgate incident.
He said: “I haven’t seen anyone say ‘I lost somebody.’ When we have an actual evidence, I will repent or it will remove my doubt.”
Like Stan-Lambo, many people are waiting for the hard evidence showing that people were killed on that Tuesday night. Until then, the question lingers, where are the corpses?