US Department of State has said claims that some #EndSARS protesters were killed at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020 could not be verified.
Recall that many Nigerians especially youths in October held protests in major cities, demanding the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police and end to police brutality.
The SARS, which was dissolved days into the protest, was notorious for extra-judicial killings, harassment and excessive use of force.
The protest gained global traction with prominent people across the globe lending their voices to the campaign.
The largely peaceful protest was later trailed by hoodlums who unleashed acts such as looting and arson.
However, on October 20, two weeks after the protest began, Nigerian soldiers shot unarmed protesters at Lekki tollgate in Lagos state.
This generated outrage in and outside the country, which even further escalated when the army and Lagos State government initially denied shooting.
In latest development months after the tragic incident, US in its March 30 report tagged ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria,’ explained that accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at the end of the year, TheNation reports.
It partly reads;
On October 20, members of the security forces enforced curfew by firing shots into the air to disperse protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos to protest abusive practices by the Nigerian Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end.
Amnesty International reported 10 persons died during the event, but the government disputed Amnesty’s report, and no other organization was able to verify the claim. The government reported two deaths connected to the event.
One body from the toll gate showed signs of blunt force trauma. A second body from another location in Lagos State had bullet wounds.
The government acknowledged that soldiers armed with live ammunition were present at the Lekki Toll Gate. At year’s end the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution continued to hear testimony and investigate the shooting at Lekki Toll Gate.
The report is contrary to claims by an eyewitness at Lekki tollgate, DJ Switch who claimed they counted 15 dead bodies, while some were carted away by the soldiers.
The US report also contradicts CNN, which reported at least 30 protesters were killed during the incident, a claim the Federal Government rejected.