The federal government yesterday officially reacted to the report of the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) set up by the Lagos state government to probe the October 20, 2020 #EndSARs protest, insisting that there was nothing in the document to compel it to change its stand on the matter.
The government which had long held that there was no evidence of the killing of protesters, who among others, were demanding an end to police brutality, dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and harassment of young people, stated that the report was based on social media “tales by moonlight”.
Speaking through the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, in Abuja, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration maintained that the report was riddled with errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendoes, omissions and conclusions that were not supported by evidence.
The report which was leaked last week, had revealed that at least 11 persons were killed during the peaceful demonstration at the Lekki Tollgate.
The report had described as, “atrocious, the maiming and killing of unarmed, helpless and unresisting protesters, while sitting on the floor and waving their Nigerian flags and singing the National Anthem , stressing that the act could be equated to a “massacre in context.”
According to the report, aside the 11 confirmed dead, four others were presumed dead, while in all, 48 were casualties of the Lekki incident which shook the entire country last year.
In the 309-page report, the panel had also stated that of the 48 casualties, 24 sustained gunshot injuries, while 15 others were assaulted by soldiers and police, and specifically indicted the army and the police for shooting directly at fleeing protesters who had run into the shanties and the Lagoon.
But Mohammed, in his assessment, argued that what had been circulating in the public space remained simply a rehash of the unverified fake news that had been playing on social media since the incident last year.
He posited that it was simply incredible that a judicial panel set up to investigate an incident had submitted a report laden with allegations, the same allegations it was set up to investigate in the first instance.