The Nigerian Army has disbanded its legal team for the Lagos State Judicial Panel, effectively pulling out of the investigative hearing as more evidence resurfaces confirming that Nigerian soldiers shot at peaceful protesters last October.
S.N. Agwhe, a member of army counsel to the panel made the development known to the Judicial Panel on Saturday,
Agwhe had appeared before the panel on behalf of the army legal team, but revealed that the job of the army counsel finished on November 21.
“We do not have any further mandate to represent the army in any subsequent proceedings,” Agwhe told the panel.
He reminded the panel that Akinlolu Kehinde, head of the army legal team, had earlier submitted a memo notifying the panel of the decision.
The last hearing on January 23 was the third time in a row that the army and its counsel failed to appear before the panel.
The panel chairman Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge, however, warned that the army would not claim denial of fair hearing when the panel submits its findings to the government.
The Army’s withdrawal from the panel comes after Reddington Hospital testified to treating victims from the #EndSARS protest with bullet wounds on October 20, 21 and 22.
Petitioners had alleged that soldiers opened fire at peaceful protesters, killing and injuring several protesters, which led to the Army being summoned before the judicial panel of inquiry.
The Nigerian Army had reluctantly admitted being at the scene of the Lekki shootings after initial denials. still, it denied opening fire on the protesters, many of whom sat on the floor and were singing the national anthem.
The army however claims that officers were sent out to enforce a curfew that was imposed by the Lagos State Government but didn’t open fire on peaceful protesters.
By Abel Ejikeme
#EnsSARS: Many Lekki Shooting Victims Were Brought to Our Hospitals, Reddington Doctor Says
Despite claims by the Nigerian Army that no live rounds were used in dispersing peaceful protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020, Babajide Lawson, a doctor with Reddington Hospital on Saturday confirmed to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police brutality that victims with gunshot wounds were treated at the hospital’s facilities that night and the following days.Reddington Hospital Doctor Confirm Lekki Shooting VictimsSharePlay Video
He told the Justice Okuwobi led panel that the Lekki branch of the hospital was overwhelmed with ‘mass casaulty’ on the night of October 20 with victims carrying different injuries arriving the facility until October 22.
His testimony however counters the military who claimed that no live rounds were fired by the Nigerian army on #EndSARS protesters at Lekki.
“Being in charge of trauma, it means that anybody that is involved in traumatic injuries such as accidents and gunshots must go through me in both of our locations,” he said.
“On that 20th, a lot of the patients were treated at the Lekki office. Later on the night of 20th, I also went to the Lekki office to assess the level of assistance needed in my capacity and I also spoke with the MD of that branch. That night, I transferred a patient to the VI office which is our headquarters where I work from and where he stayed till the 23rd,” Mr. Lawson further revealed.
“On the first night, there are about six patients that I saw at that night, but as the days went by, other patients trickled in,” he added.
Mr. Lawson also named the victims of the Lekki shootings which he personally treated to include Ajogwu Japheth, Philemon Lucky, Samuel Oshola, Nnaji Madem, Bright Osariemen, Damilola Adedayo and Joshua Samuel.
The #EndSARS protest which was embarked upon by Nigerian youths to protest against police brutality took a twist after men of the Nigerian army opened fire on peaceful protesters.
The army who initially denied being at the scene of the Lekki shootings later admitted that they were at the scene of the shooting but did not open fire on the peaceful protesters.