*Only white paper report can confirm alleged Lekki killing – CDS
*PDP demands arrest, prosecution of indicted persons, APC collaborators
Tunde Opalana, Abuja
The United Nations and United States have welcomed the report submitted by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters (Lagos EndSARS Panel), urging government to implement the stated recommendations.
In a statement signed by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, made available to journalists on Tuesday, UN said it has welcomed the report submitted on Monday.
The statement reads: “I welcome the submission to the Lagos State Governor, H.E. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of the reports of the judicial panel on claims of brutality and shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State, during the 2020 EndSARS protests”.
Mr. Kallon noted that the submission of the findings of the judicial panel would accelerate the process of justice and accountability.
“I urge the government to implement the recommendations of the judicial panel of inquiry to rebuild trust and start the process of healing and reconciliation,” the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator added.
On its own part, the United States said it has welcomed the conclusion of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry with the transmission of its final report.
“We look forward to the Lagos State government’s response as part of a process that represents an important mechanism of accountability regarding the #EndSARS protests and the events that took place near the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
“Those events led to serious allegations against some members of the security forces, and we look forward to the Lagos State and federal governments taking suitable measures to address those alleged abuses as well as the grievances of the victims and their families,” a statement from the US Mission Nigeria said.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, on Tuesday evening in Benin City, the Edo State capital, said that only a white paper from the report of the #ENDSARS Judicial panel’s report in Lagos which is indicating that there were killings during the protest in Lekki, Lagos State would confirm the alleged incidents.
He assured that the Nigerian Armed Forces remain committed to their professional calling of protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria just as he cautioned Nigerians against making inciting comments on what is happening across the country.
Speaking to journalists shortly after a courtesy visit on Governor Godwin Obaseki at Government House where the governor called for supported from the armed forces to check banditry and criminality in Edo forests and waterways, Irabor said the operations of the armed forces should not be compared to that of the police, adding that his men and women remain professionals.
Irabor, who was on a farmiliarisation visit to military formations in the state, said: “I am sure those of you in the media must have seen that there is a report that was released though in my view a wrong channel that is making the rounds in the social media.
“Whether it is a true report, I can’t tell but I would like to indicate that the normal procedure is to have such a report submitted to the convening authority and then there will be a white paper based on which one can make informed comments.
“But whatever you see currently, I will like to indicate that the armed forces of Nigeria is a professional armed forces, we are peopled by Nigerians and we remain committed to constitutional mandates so we do not at this point think that Nigerians should make disparaging remarks regarding the armed forces of Nigeria in the sense that we are professional armed forces and if there are issues, of course we address them within the ambits of the provision.
“It will not be right to disparage men and women who have worked so hard to ensure that the territorial integrity of this nation is kept intact; so in the meantime until I see the full report I may not be able to… but I can assure you that the armed forces of Nigeria are well disciplined and we do not engage in any ignoble acts.
“If Nigerians don’t trust us then we wouldn’t have been doing what we are doing and in any case, it is the armed forces of Nigeria and remember, we are not talking about the police, we are talking about the armed forces with emphasis armed forces so when the armed forces are called out, it is because there is a need for the armed forces;
there is no one who do not require and desire to live in peace and so we need to understand that the armed forces is there to keep the peace, to provide the ambience that will enable each and every Nigerian to live up his desires in peace and harmony so let us not make inciting comments that will put the entire space on fire, that is not right.”
However, in its reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by the Lagos State EndSARS panel confirming the gruesome killings of innocent youths at the Lekki Tollgate during the 2020 EndSARS protest, strengthened the fact that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is running a murderous and oppressive regime that has no regard for life.
The party recalled “how security operatives attacked and massacred innocent youths and how the APC, its leaders and agents, in various agencies of APC-controlled government, vehemently denied the killings, tried to mop up evidence and provided official cover for the killers”.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement on Tuesday, said the report of the Lagos EndSARS panel, which confirms the massacre of Nigerian youths in Lekki, has further shown the “APC and its government as bloody liars whose hands are stained with the blood of innocent compatriots”
The statement further read: “It is now clear that no matter how much the wicked strive in denial, the truth will always prevail. Therefore, the blood of our innocent youths killed by agents of the APC and its administration must not be shed in vain. Those responsible for these callous acts must be made to face justice.
“Of course, all those whose hands have become blood stained will never know peace.”
“The PDP hereby calls on Nigerians to stand for the slain compatriots by ensuring that those behind the massacre of the youths as well as their supporters in government have their days in the dock.
“The nation must ensure that such individuals are brought to book for their act of wickedness to humanity.
“In this regard, our party insists that all those indicted by the panel should be arrested, prosecuted and dealt with in accordance with our laws”, the party added.
The PDP commiserated with the families of the slain young Nigerians, who were cut in their prime for demanding for a just, equitable and secure nation governed by the rule of law.