WEDNESDAY COLUMN BY USSIJU MEDANER
The ENDSARS panel that sat in Lagos state submitted its report last week, and once again, there were uproars across the country over the content of the report. This piece today makes an attempt to review the content of the report as we all await the ensuing white paper including its recommendations. In the report released, it states the Lekki incident was in the manner of a massacre; that Nigerians who went out on a peaceful protest were gruesomely murdered in the tens. The report as it was released was not different from the forever unsubstantiated oral reports of the various alleged witnesses and believers of the purported massacre.
Is that report a true representation of events at the Lekki protest field or a furtherance of the lies that have become associated with the protest? How authentic and verifiable are the presented facts of the report? Is it true that the panel made statements denying the content of the report at some time after the public release of the same? Someone said the report is a disservice to the Nigerian people who deserve the truth of the Lekki event after expending taxpayers’ money to the inquest; is that person right or wrong? These and many more questions that bother all the lovers of truth are what I intend to look into this week.
Having gone through the raw report as it was released, my first reaction was a rhetorical question: “is this coming from the very Lekki Tollgate event that we are all aware of, or some other events somewhere else.” To say I was stunned by the audacity of the lies that were intelligently collated into the result and intentionally leaked into the nation’s media space, before accepting there were errors in the report, would be a complete understatement.
After spending time trying to marry the content of the report with available facts and obtainable findings from the same panel, I came to a singular conclusion, that the Lagos state panel of Enquiry, under the chairmanship of Justice Doris Okuwobi did the entire Nigerians and the global community who were anxiously waiting for the outcome of the enquiry a huge deal of disservice. The report is nothing but an outright distortion of truth, which can never withstand genuine and in-depth probe and analysis. It is very glaring that the report is loaded and fraught with intentionally included discrepancies and fabricated lies. Eventually, it would be that exposing and authenticating the lies which the report represented would substantiate the already known fact that the stories of Lekki deaths were but politically induced fabricated lies.
It becomes very obvious that the panelists were literally biased and only worked, wasting taxpayers’ monies to establish the lies already told in the past. From the onset, the presence of Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN on the panel had raised concern; how can a man be a judge in a case he has vested interest in? This was the same man who had been busy attacking the President and spreading the lies of killings across the country. He posted in New Express on 28th July 2020, in a submission to Nigerians and the international community, that President Buhari must stop the killings. How can a man who had already concluded there were killings be made a member of a panel to establish if there were killings? Where is that done? The Lagos State Government seriously erred in the constitution of the panel of inquiry and that is why we have the problem we have at hand right now.
The essence of the panel was to coordinate forensic analysis of presented complaints and evidence; to the point of presenting to the people of Lagos state and Nigerians in general an indisputable narrative of what actually happened at the protest site at Lekki toll gate; and for that purpose, experts were engaged and experts reports were submitted. The question now is, is the released panel report based on the various experts’ reports? The answer is no.
The forensic expert from the UK, Wily-Harry and his team submitted after the forensic analysis of evidence provided that from the nature of injuries sustained by victims taken into five medical centers, no military grade live ammunition was fired at the protester at the Lekki toll gate on 20th October 2020. This was captured in the panel report on page 266, but has no reflection on the final submission of the panel. So why invite the forensic experts when our minds were made up already on the output of the exercise?
The panel invited Professor Omobuwa to carry out an autopsy on 96 corpses claimed to have been from the purported massacre. The report of the autopsy as was released to the panel submitted that only one of the corpses was from the Lekki incident, yet the panel ignored the submission and went ahead to tag as many as possible of the corpse as from the incident at the Lekki protest ground.
Page 288 of the report read that “the evidence of the pathologist prof. Obafunwa that only three (3) of the bodies they conducted post mortem examination on were from Lekki and only one of the bodies had gunshot injury.” This submission was not debunked at any point by counter professional evidence or by the panel itself, yet, the final statements of the report totally negates the submission like it did to others.
Unfortunate, at this age of total trust in scientific methods to proof crimes, and after wasting tax-payers monies to engage scientific experts, the panel chose to ignore and reject the evidence of the several experts and prefer to compile its report based on preferred, cheap anecdotal stories from questionable eye-witnesses; the same situation we wanted to depart from to resolve the Lekki toll gate issues. They have thrown to the street a report filled with non-existing corpses and victims from the Lekki incident; and, perhaps mischievously or for whatever reason, include names of the living among the list of the dead. Maybe the entire panel was confused will have to be a matter for another panel to determine.
Now, we have a very critical report, capable of redefining the social interrelationship of Nigerians and citizens trust in the national systems; informing Nigerians that indeed their military opened fire and indiscriminately killed innocent protesters at lekki toll gate. This implies, without even the laziest effort to provide credence, talk more of a proof, that they were able to determine the intention of the military on that unfortunate day which was to carry out a massacre.
The panelists went ahead to collate non-traceable and non-identifiable individuals as victims of the incident. We now have a report that lists corpses with their names but with no links to families or their past.
The entire panel report was a reflection of the dominant social media narratives from the seemingly ‘woke’ believers of the Lekki toll gate massacre. And now that the panel has gone ahead to raise its report based on non-evidential rhetoric, with what evidence do we prosecute the soldiers that are claimed to be responsible for the killings? Where are the bodies of the victims, where are their family members and loved ones. Would it be with the same forensic evidence that the panel wilfully rejected? That in itself is a disgraceful ethical malpractice.
The outcome and public damage expected by the individuals behind the erroneous, unsystematic, and lies-filled report has already been done; the social media and the streets have already taken what they want and may not be interested any further about authenticity or otherwise of the report. The lies have been effectively told and circulated; learned men of the caliber of Femi Falana have supported the authenticity of the report even when they know very well the report would never be able to stand a thorough legal scrutiny anywhere and anytime. They all knew what they were doing; the panel members that released the report, the Femi Falana and others that are flying with it are not daft. They can never mistakenly let out a report marred by errors, what we have seen as a leaked report and submitted to the Lagos state government was done intentionally. And this is all part of 2023 politicking.
GOD BLESS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA !