By Emma Amaize
Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, yesterday, said the Nigerian Army has been speaking out from both sides of the mouth on the role soldiers played in the ignoble Lekki toll gate, Lagos, shooting of #EndSARS protesters.
The South-South regional group in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said, in one breathe, army authority denied that soldiers participated in the shooting and in another, it claimed the soldiers carried out their constitutional duty.
PANDEF said, “We back the call by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria for a thorough investigation into the shooting of peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate, Lagos, on Tuesday, last week.
“We are supporting the Catholic Bishops’ resolution, and similar expressions by patriotic Individuals and groups in the country, as well as, the International community, for an immediate and transparent probe of the incident, whereby persons in Army uniform sporadically shot at young Nigerians that were peacefully protesting against police brutality.
“Whoever ordered the barbaric action, and those who carried it out, should be identified and made to face the consequences. The government must ensure that justice is served. While the Federal Government had said it would investigate the incident, the seemingly delay is unbecoming.
“PANDEF insists that the probe of the shooting of EndSARS protesters at Lekki tollgate should not be undertaken by the judicial panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State Government to probe police brutality and related extrajudicial killings. Lekki shooting investigation should be committed to another panel that should be set up by the Federal Government, and should comprise men and women of impeccable character, drawn from relevant strata of the society, including the military, civil society, and representatives of the #EndSARS protesters.‘‘
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“Nigerians and the entire world deserve to know the truth about what happened. It should not be swept under the carpet, there should be no cover-up. Questions are begging for answers, chiefly, who ordered the shooting? Only a proper investigation of the rather despotic action would ascertain the veracity of the various claims and counterclaims. That incident was an embarrassment to the country and would remain an awful smudge on the nation’s democratic journey.
“President Muhammadu Buhari evaded the subject in his address to the nation, last week. The Army has also been inconsistent on the matter; initially, denying any involvement but lately claiming they only carried out a constitutional obligation.
‘Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, during an interview on a foreign media platform, affirmed that men in military uniform carried out the shooting. And that CCTV footage of the incident would be made available to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on police brutality and extrajudicial killings.”