- We did not use live ammunition on protesters
The Nigerian Army on Saturday said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State invited them on October 20 during the #EndSARS protest.
The commander of the 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Brigadier-General Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo, made this known while giving his evidence on behalf of the Nigerian Army before the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
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He said the governor appealed to the military to go to the scene of the Lekki toll gate fracas after men of the Nigerian police were overrun by hoodlums.
Sanwo-Olu had denied inviting the military to the Lekki tollgate, adding that he did not have the power to do so.
Some protesters were killed during a shooting by some people dressed in military camouflage, an action that generated a global uproar.
The video of the shooting was shared live on the social media by a popular disc jockey, Obianuju Catherine Udeh, who has a stage name, DJ Switch.
Brigadier-General Taiwo said that contrary to claims, the military had bigger issues to deal with rather than arrest the entertainment star.
He said, “We have bigger fish to fry; and that is how to stabilise Lagos. We can’t be bothered chasing one or two people. Where she got that from, I do not know.”
He said the army was unhappy about the denial of the governor, but said no security agent would watch while people were being killed and properties burnt.
He presented video evidence of hoodlums carting away ammunitions after the Orile Iganmu police station, Ijora was razed during the mayhem that greeted the Lekki tollgate shooting.
He said the military evacuated N2billion from banks after hoodlums started looting businesses and maiming police officers.
He denied the allegation that the army used live ammunition on unarmed protesters during the alleged shooting at the Lekki tollgate. Her, however, said the military had fired blank ammunition into the air to disperse protesters on the night of the alleged shooting.
Taiwo, who gave a presentation to the panel with the use of a projector, played footage which showed soldiers standing in front of singing protesters and firing weapons into the air.
He said there would have been a lot of fatalities if the 600m live ammunition normally used by the military was used to disperse the #EndSARS protesters.
“I have been in the army since 1986 and you cannot be under fire and be singing.
The entry hole for the 600m is thin while the exit is wide, if it hits you in the chest or the bowels, the intestines come down. I am an expert in ammunition, having spent so long in the army. Blank ammunition is slower and can do no damage to the flesh, and you have nothing to fear except you take a rifle, put it against your eye and fire.
Even if you put it against your skin and fire you, would only have burn marks,” he said.
Taiwo said troops had managed to disperse most of the #EndSARS protesters and had even shared drinks from protesters who had remained at the Lekki tollgate.
He said he was monitoring the situation on the internet, and that it was after the departure of the soldiers that hoodlums set the tollgate on fire.
He also said that non-kinetic (non-violent) means were used in the army’s rules of engagement during the protest.
Through the counsel of the Nigerian Army, Mr Akinlolu Kehinde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Taiwo presented four spent blank ammunitions to the panel as evidence. He also told the panel that there was a lapse in communication between the Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Army regarding the imposition and lifting of the curfew.
He told the panel that the army had started recovering looted items when the Lagos State Government lifted the curfew without informing them.
The panel adjourned till Saturday for further cross-examination of the Nigerian Army.