The Lagos State Government on Tuesday rejected the #EndSARS report of the ‘Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution of Victims of SARS-Related Abuses and Other Related Matters’ led by Justice Doris Okuwobi, that there was a massacre in Lekki Toll Gate during the October 2020 protest, arguing that the panel failed to establish arbitrary and indiscriminate killing of protesters at the toll gate.
The 36-page White Paper which was released on Tuesday said the panel’s findings “are clearly and manifestly not supported by the evidence before the JPI as attested to by the JPI itself, when it said there was no contrary evidence to that of Prof. Obafunwa that only one person died at Lekki Toll Gate of gunshot wounds on 21st October 2020”.
Rejecting the recommendation, the white paper said, “The state government is, therefore, unable to accept the finding that nine (9) people died of gunshot wounds at LTG on 20th October 2020.
“It also follows that the irresistible conclusion to be drawn from the JPI’s acceptance of Prof. Obafunwa’s testimony that only one (1) person died of gunshot wounds at LTG on 21st October 2020 is that there was no massacre at LTG, contextual or otherwise.
“The findings of JPI that nine (9) people died at the LTG on 20th October 2020 from gunshots fired by the military are based on assumptions and speculations.
“The inconsistencies and contradictions in the entire JPI Report concerning the number of persons who died at LTG on 20th October 2020 and their cause of death rendered the JPI’s finding and conclusions there upon totally unreliable and therefore, unacceptable.”
Out of the 32 recommendations made by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry in its report which was submitted on 15th November 2021, the government accepted eleven, rejected one and accepted six with modifications.
Fourteen recommendations fall outside the powers of the Lagos State Government and will therefore be forwarded to the Federal Government for consideration.
According to the White Paper, some recommendations cannot be accepted because of obvious inconsistencies and distortions.
“The evidence of Pathologist Prof. Obafunwa, that only three of the bodies that post-mortem examination was conducted on, were from Lekki, and only one had gunshot injury, and this was not debunked. We deemed it credible as the contrary was not presented before the panel.
“This finding of nine deaths at LTG on 20 October is even more baffling because apart from listing out their names in that form on pages 297-298, the panel offered no explanation regarding circumstances of their death. The names simply sprang up on pages 297-298 of the report without any justification.
“It is quite astonishing that in the list of 11 deaths set on pages 297-298, two of the names appeared twice (Kolade Salam, Folorunsho Olabisi). Furthermore, the person listed as No. 46 Nathaniel Solomon, who testified as a witness and petitioned the panel in respect of his brother who he alleged died at LTG, himself listed as having died at LTG on October 20, 2020. Remarkably, Nathaniel Solomon’s deceased brother (Abata Solomon was then also listed as No. 2 on the list of persons who died at Lekki Tollgate).
“The only victim of gunshot injury from LTG was picked up at 7:43, on October 21, 2020, after the curfew started (see page 99). Furthermore, there was no shred of evidence regarding who shot him,” the white paper further revealed.
It added that the “award of compensation to only one of the alleged nine listed as ‘deceased’ showed that the Judicial Panel of Inquiry itself had doubts as to the alleged death of eight other deceased persons on its list.”