One of the groups at the forefront of last year’s #EndSARS protest has demanded a “sincere” apology from the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria over the “massacre” at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020, by the Nigerian army and the police.
In a statement signed by the #EndSARS Frontliners on Wednesday, the group said the government should apologize to “the victims of police brutality and military oppression in Nigeria at large, and specifically the Lekki toll gate massacre.”
On Monday, hours after the state government received the reports of the judicial panel of inquiry and promised to make it public, one of the reports on the Lekki shootings was leaked.
According to the report, the Nigerian Army “shot, injured and killed unarmed, helpless and defenceless protesters, without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian flag and singing the National Anthem.”
At least, 46 unarmed protesters were either shot dead, injured with bullets, or assaulted by security forces.
The Nigerian government, represented by Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, has repeatedly stated that reports of a ‘massacre’ at the Lekki toll gate are “fake news.”
The group described the presentation of the reports as a landmark development; however, the “value of the report will only be realized when the government takes steps in good faith to ensure transparency and accountability in implementing its recommendations.”
The group raised concerns over the increase in cases of police brutality, extortion, and harassment in Lagos State, “as some police officers continue to act with impunity, searching phones with slaps and beatings, torturing and extorting young people, amongst other heinous crimes.”
The group said it is the responsibility of the Nigerian government to protect and defend its citizens.
The group demanded that the government at the state level must ensure that the reports of the panels across the country are finalised and made public.
They demanded that all persons found culpable of any illegal activity be prosecuted and compensation should be given to victims of police brutality as recommended in the report.
“As directed by NEC, all state governments proceed to set up human rights committees to conclude with other cases and ongoing issues with the first order of business being investigated into the unlawful incarceration of #EndSARS peaceful protesters in Lagos, Abuja, Oyo and other states,” the statement read.
Describing Lagos State as an “extremely problematic hotspot,” the group demanded a digital central registry where cases of police brutality and extortion are reported and the “Attorney General of the state in collaboration with appropriate officers of the Police Service Commission take steps to ensure a monthly review and accelerated action against offending officers.”
EndSARS Frontliners also demanded the government fulfil all promises made regarding police reform.
“A memorial of this horrific occurrence must also be installed at the Lekki Toll Gate, to forever mark the memory of the deceased, and honour their martyrdom,” the statement read.