Sanwo-Olu admits soldiers were at Lekki Toll Gate despite Nigerian Army’s denial

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has disclosed that soldiers of the Nigerian Arny were at the Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday night.

He stated this in a statewide address on Wednesday, hours after armed men in military fatigues turned their guns on dozens of peaceful EndSARS protesters.

The Nigerian Army has continued to deny that soldiers carried out the shooting, which was captured on video.

In his address, Sanwo-Olu said, “Dear Lagosians, I address you today with a heavy heart as your Governor. I do so as a father and a brother. I do so as one who is touched by the infirmities and feelings of his people. I do so as a part of the collective humanity that we all share.

“Yesterday’s events were no doubt some of the darkest gradients of our history as a State and as a people. As you are perhaps aware, I have been engaging the #EndSARS protesters since Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 October 2020 respectively.

“We were making progress together though the pace was slow due to lack of an acceptable leadership amongst the #EndSARS protesters.

“However, events took a different turn from Sunday 18, October 2020 as criminal elements took advantage of the firm orders handed down to the officers and men of the Nigerian Police not to resort to shooting as a rule of engagement.

“In Ogolonto, armed gangs unleashed mayhem on one another. While this was happening, other criminal elements joined in attacking innocent citizens who were returning from church services. There were cases of robbery of citizens and rape of frightened women scampering for safety.

“Other criminal elements in turn began to unleash terror on citizens in different parts of the State like Fagba in Ogba & Ebute Metta. In the Ebute Metta incident, 19 officers and men of our Rapid Response Squad (RRS) were severally injured by armed thugs in Adekunle, Ebute Metta.

“The level of insecurity in different parts of the State became heightened with the multiple attacks on Police Stations.

“The lawlessness blossomed into attacking and lynching of Police officers at Herbert Macaulay and Alapere areas of Lagos.

“Things took a more dangerous turn on Tuesday 20th, 2020 when the Orile and Ilasamaja Police Stations were razed by arsonists.

“Chaos took over as Ajeromi Local Government Area offices were completely burnt down and wanton destruction of property followed.

“In the same Ajeromi Local Government Area, Ajegunle in particular, branches of financial institutions were looted and hoodlums attempted to gain access into the Tincan Island Ports.

Read Also: Reps Condemns Alleged Killing of Protesters by Security Agents

“For clarity, it is imperative to explain that no governor controls the rules of engagement of the army. I have nevertheless instructed an investigation into the ordered and the adopted rules of engagement employed by the men of the Nigerian Army deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate.

“This is with a view to taking this up with the high command of the Nigerian Army and seek the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief to unravel the sequence of events that happened yesterday.

“The leadership of our Ministry of Health led by the Honourable Commissioner, Professor Akin Abayomi worked through the night with different hospitals in Lekki and environ to monitor and provide support for the injured protesters.

“In sensitivity with the mood of the nation at this time, I have directed the following:

1.   The immediate suspension of all State activities for 3-days except those connected with governance of security in the State and the management of the current issue.

“2.   The lowering of the flags in all government establishments for 3-days.

“3.   The constitution of a 5-man Fact-Finding Committee into the Rules of Engagement ordered & adopted by the Nigerian Army to be headed by a retired military officer not less than the rank of a General.

There are no excuses for the unfortunate incident that took place last night, and as the Governor, I apologize for every action & inaction.

“I would like you to know that I am for you, I am with you, & I understand that indeed you’re not happy with the turn of events last night.

I want to once again, and passionately from the depth of my heart appeal to our teeming youths, to our protesters that you should please give peace a chance.

“There have been several reported cases of arson, and of destruction of properties this morning.

“We want to plead with parents, we want to appeal to guardians, I want to appeal to our citizens, especially our youths. I feel the pain, and I want to say once again that as your Governor, I will continue to ensure that every life does matter.”

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John is a University of Lagos-trained journalist who has read almost every novel written by Chinua Achebe, Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown. He's an expert Scrabble and draughts player who is also excellent at swimming.
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