Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has urged the Lagos State Government to implement the recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, set up to investigate cases of police brutality and other SARS-related crimes.
Falana said this in a statement signed on Tuesday, a day after a leaked report from the panel obtained by Channels Television affirmed that the Nigerian Army shot and killed unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
The Lagos State Government is, however, yet to officially release the report.
He said members of the Okuwobi Judicial Commission of Inquiry deserve commendation for the thorough investigation of police brutality in Lagos State, adding that a copy of the report should be sent to the President.
“In particular, the revelation that some of the 99 dead bodies dumped in the various mortuaries in Lagos by soldiers were traced to the Lekki Toll Gate has exposed the official lie that the report of the brutal killing was a figment of the imagination of the protesters.
“A certified copy of the Report of the Panel should be forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari in view of the recommendation that the soldiers and police personnel who engaged in the torture and reckless murder of citizens be sanctioned.
“Having received the report of the Judicial Commission the Lagos State Government is urged to accelerate the issuance of the White Paper as well as the implementation of the far-reaching recommendations.
“The policemen who were killed by criminal elements during the protests should be honoured notwithstanding that their family members have been compensated by the Lagos State Government.
“However, as police brutality has continued unabated we call on the Government to set up the Lagos State Human Rights Committee in line with the recommendation of the Panel. This was part of the unanimous resolutions of the members of the National Economic Council,” the statement read in part.
Mr Falana went further to state that while commending the witnesses and their lawyers for exposing the official cover-up of the egregious human rights abuse perpetrated by the merchants of death, the Lagos State Government should designate venues where aggrieved citizens can hold rallies in the exercise of their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and expression.
He also added that the violent attack of unarmed protesters during peaceful rallies by police and military personnel should be completely outlawed since section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act, 2020 has imposed a duty on the police to provide adequate security for citizens who participate in peaceful meetings and rallies.
The Federal Government had denied that unarmed protesters were killed at the toll gate on October 20.
Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Mohammed, described the incident as a “massacre without bodies.”
The Nigerian Army had also denied any wrongdoing.