Claims soldiers killed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate not verified ―US report

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The United States government has said the claims #EndSARS protesters were on October 20, 2020, killed at Lekki Toll Gate can not be verified.

A report tagged ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria,’ 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).

The report was released on March 30, 2021and it explained that accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at the end of the year.

“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 organisation was able to verify the claim. The government reported two deaths connected to the event.

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“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 the United States-bases Cable News Network (CNN), which initially reported 38 protesters were killed during the incident, a claim the Federal Government vehemently rejected.

The Voice of America (VOA) also reported on October 22 that the US condemned police brutality at Lekki, two days after at least 12 protesters were reportedly shot dead by Nigerian security forces.

The then-Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, had said: “We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces. Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law.”

Following that, the government sent a delegation to Nigeria with Counselor Ulrich Brechbϋhl meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.