Legal team representing the Nigerian Army before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS and Related Abuses, on Monday, said the panel lacked the powers to impose sanctions or punish any soldier found guilty for shooting #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll plaza on October 20.
The leader of the team, Kehinde Akinlolu (SAN), said this while presenting a seven-page report to the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, at the Army Headquarters in Abuja.
Akinlolu said the Nigerian Army was not under trial over the shooting, which allegedly resulted in the death of some protesters.
According to him, the Army was never summoned but was rather invited to shed light on what happened at the Lekki tollgate, and “as such, there is no single petition against the military.”
The senior lawyer said, “It must also be borne in mind that we were able to establish that the NA did not on its own volition set out to intervene in the crisis at the Lekki toll gate.
“The Lekki toll gate happens to be the area of passage to Epe corridors when the NA was called upon that ‘look, this matter is getting out of hand’ because we know very well that there are constitutional provisions for the civil authorities to call upon the NA to help when the civil police was overwhelmed as it was common knowledge, and that’s what exactly what happened in Lagos.
“We were able to show the footage, both oral and documentary evidence, and the panel also must bear in mind that it is a fact-finding panel.
“The panel has no capacity to ascribe any punishment or any sentence on anybody. The whole idea of setting up the panel of that nature is to help unravel what went wrong so that in the future, necessary precautions will be taken.”
Responding, Buratai, who was represented by the NA Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt. Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, said those who falsely and wrongly accused the Army of deploying troops to shoot innocent protesters at Lekki last month, “must be ready to swallow their pride and apologise to the Army and the country by the time the judicial panel concludes its fact-finding.”