The United States Government has said that accurate information on fatalities resulting from the Lekki Tollgate shooting on October 20, 2020 was not available at year end.
The ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2020: Nigeria’ published by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour of United States Department of State, contained the US government’s position on the Lekki Tollgate shooting during the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.
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“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). Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end,” the report stated.
Daily Trust observes that some media outlets had reported that the US Government’s report faulted claims of soldiers killing protesters at the tollgate and exonerated the military from killing protesters.
However, the report actually said the U.S. Government had not confirmed the accurate figure of casualties from the Lekki tollgate shooting.
The report reflected Amnesty International’s account of fatalities from the shooting, but indicated they were unverified.
“Amnesty International reported 10 persons died during the event, but the government disputed Amnesty’s report, and no other organization was able to verify the claim. The government reported two deaths connected to the event. 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 report stated.
The US Government reported that the government acknowledged that soldiers armed with live ammunition were present at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“In October, #EndSARS protests were staged in states across the country to demand an end to police brutality. Demonstrations were largely peaceful, but some protests turned violent after criminal elements infiltrated the protests and security forces fired at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20,” the report stated.
On October 22, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, confirmed two deaths from the Lekki shooting while speaking on Arise News.
Several media reports had confirmed that multiple fatalities were recorded from the shooting.
For instance, the CNN had reported that Nigerian Government’s CCTV footage showed “soldiers approaching protesters and firing shots” at the Lekki Tollgate that night.
Similarly, CNN’s investigation had revealed the use of live ammunition at the toll gate, based on analysis carried out by ballistics experts and conversations with military sources.
Civil society and human right organizations, including Amnesty International (AI), had alleged that there was mass shooting of protesters at the tollgate, but the Nigerian Government had dismissed the claim.
The latest report from the US Government indicated that all the reports on fatalities were not accurate and therefore unreliable so far.