The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has said it has reviewed the Lagos EndSARS report and observed that the Federal Government has questions to answer.
The lawmakers in a statement signed by Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu on Thursday said the report has confirmed that there was indeed a massacre at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, despite the earlier denial of killings.
“The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives, after a thorough review of the report of the Lagos State EndSARS judicial panel, holds that the attempt by officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to cover up the now confirmed massacre of Nigerians youths by security forces at the Lekki Tollgate suggests a high-level state-backed conspiracy against Nigerians.
“The confirmation by the Lagos Panel that there was indeed a massacre at the Lekki Tollgate during the 2020 EndSARS protests in Lagos and that APC government-controlled security forces carted away bodies and mopped up evidence, places a huge burden on the Federal Government which had vehemently denied any killings,” the statement read in part.
The Minority caucus also flayed the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed for “rushing to the media, ahead of the judicial panel, to insist that there were no killings at Lekki Tollgate, even in the face of testimonies of witnesses at the sad event.”
They described it as a shocking attempt to cover up details of the October 20 event demanding that justice be served.
“Our caucus is however shocked that the administration can lie in a matter that has to do with the gruesome killing of citizens, particularly our youths, and even attempt to provide official cover to the culprits.
“As representatives of the people, the minority caucus holds that killing of our young ones for having the audacity to demand justice, rule of law, and good governance in our nation is the height of wickedness which will continue to haunt the APC and its administration until justice is served.”
The Minority caucus, therefore, called on the APC-led Federal Government “not to cover up the vicious act,” but based on the findings of the Lagos panel, “the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed is expected to resign immediately or be fired by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The caucus commended the Lagos panel for “its boldness in the pursuit of truth and justice and urges other panels investigating allegations of brutality in other states not to be deterred but ensure that the truth is not suppressed.”
And reacting to the report, Human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has described the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters as one of the best ever produced.
He stated this on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, three days after the panel said nine #EndSARS protesters were killed at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.
After a leaked version of the report indicting the operatives of the Nigerian Army and Police, was circulated on social media, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu set up a committee to review the panel’s report, which is yet to be released officially.
“The panel gave everybody fair hearing, bent over backward to accommodate those who should have been sent packing, did a thorough analysis of the evidence and arrived at recommendations that tallied with the findings.
“It was a thorough-going exercise, one of the best reports ever produced by a judicial commission of inquiry in Nigeria,” Falana said.
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on November 18, 2021.
The senior lawyer however faulted the leakage of the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters.
He said the state government should only release the report after its four-member set up to raise a White Paper on the reports submitted by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry has completed its assignment.
Falana added, “A judicial commission of inquiry was set up, it has concluded its assignment and submitted the report to the government, including the recommendations. The government will have to study the report and recommendations and issue a white paper which should contain the directives of the government on each of the findings.
“So the government could not have released the report and the government should not have released the report because it has to. A committee has been set up now and that committee should have been allowed to carry out its assignment.
“It is after that committee has concluded its own assignment that the government will then release the report via a white paper.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos Chapter of the All Progressives Congress has called for restraints over the recently submitted report of the panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and other related issues.
In a statement released and made available to newsmen on Thursday, the party said it’s attention has been drawn to flurry of comments, innuendos, conjectures and suggestions since the reports of the EndSARS panel was presented to the state government.
The party noted that while some of the comments have come from well-meaning Nigerians who sought closure to the unfortunate incident of the EndSARS protest by ensuring justice for the victims and preventing a re-occurrence, others have literally written their own report to suit a pre-determined purpose.
The ruling party described as distasteful how some commentators have based their utter condemnation on a leaked report which has led to some of the content being disputed by some members of the panel. It added that it is the height of irresponsibility and inhumanity to seek political gains from collective trauma as a nation.
The statement read partly “We recall the commendable leadership role of the governor of Lagos state , Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu during the crisis by identifying with and addressing the demands of the protesters.
“It is also worthy of mention that the Lagos State government was the first to set up a panel of enquiry to unravel the mystery behind the incident.
“It is on record that the panel during its sittings enjoyed the the unhindered support of the government to successfully carry out its assignment.
“The role of the state government in standing with people at this trying moment and keeping faith by publicly receiving its report is no doubt commendable.
“The immediate set up of a committee to prepare a white paper is also in line with keeping faith.
“The intention of those behind the leaked report should be condemned by all and sundry as it constitutes another attempt to unleash further mystery on the state,” the party said.
The party however said, while the general public await the white paper on the reports, it urges restraints in order not to set dear state on fire again.
Commiserating with the families of those who lost their lives during the protest and other police brutality, the party urge the Lagos State government to remain focused on its constitutional responsibility to protect the lives and property of all citizens and jettison needless distractions.