The Lagos State Judicial Panel Probing The Shooting Of Endsars Protesters On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, Has Reportedly Invited The Nigerian Army To Appear Before It To Answer Questions Regarding The Incident.
But the army has kicked against the invitation by the panel led by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, saying they will only honour an invitation by state government.
The seven-man panel set up during the Endsars struggle by the Lagos State Government is also saddled with the responsibility of investigating allegations of police brutality by men of the recently-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
A member of the panel, who spoke on condition of anonymity said several authorities have been summoned including the military, adding that no date has been fixed for the for the appearance of the military before the panel.
“No date yet. But surely, we are summoning the military, police and everybody relevant to our probe. We have no limitation as to who we are going to summon. We want to get to the root of the case. The panel had agreed that a letter be dispatched to the military authorities,” the panel member said.
Reacting to the panel’s invitation, the acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations and 81 Division’s spokesperson, Major Osoba Olaniyi, said it was not the duty of the judicial panel to invite the Army to answer questions regarding the Lekki shooting incident, ThePunch reports.
Olaniyi emphasised that the army intervened in the Lekki incident based on the request from the Lagos State Government, adding that the army would appear before the panel based on the same directive by the state government.
“If we receive a letter from the state, we will go. Are we not under civil authorities? Are we not part of Nigerians? Have you forgotten that we did not go there (Lekki tollgate) on our own?
“It is not the duty of the members of the panel to tell us that. If the state wants the (81) Division to come, they will write and we will oblige. See, if they have written to the division, it is our duty to go. It is not for them to go through the media as if we are scared of coming.
“It is the state government that constituted that panel of inquiry. So if anybody needs to get in touch with us to come, it is still the state and not members of the panel.”
Olaniyi also disclosed that the military will not disclose the number of its personnel deployed in the Lekki toll gate on the night of the incident.
“It is against operational security. We don’t give that. It is against the policy of operational security. There is no problem here.
The picture some people paint, as if we are fighting with the state government, is wrong,” he said.
Reacting to the army’s claim that it would only honour by the state government, an anonymous member of the panel says the laws guiding the panel give it power to summon anybody.
“Once a summons has been sent, it must be obeyed. If on the day the army is supposed to appear, they don’t come, then the panel will consider other alternatives.
“If the military is under civil authority, I don’t see how a judge will sign a summons and it will be willfully disregarded. May such day never come in Nigeria again,” the panel member said.
Recall that following the Lekki shooting incident, the army came under heavy criticism on how soldiers shot at peaceful protesters, who convened at the Lekki Toll Gate to protest against police brutality and demand good governance.
Following the incident, the Nigerian Army denied its personnel were at the scene of the shootings, saying reports about the incident wee fake news.
Later, the army admitted that its personnel were at the scene but were invited by the state government.