Nigeria: attempt to cover up killing of #EndSars protesters exposed
Detailed timeline of events leading up to Lekki Toll Gate massacre released
Bodies reportedly removed in apparent attempt to dispose of evidence
‘What happened at Lekki Toll Gate has all the traits … of a cover-up’ - Osai Ojigho
The Nigerian authorities must end their attempts to cover up last week’s Lekki Toll Gate massacre, Amnesty International said, as it released powerful new findings from a fresh investigation into the atrocity a week on.
In a detailed timeline - available here - Amnesty’s Crisis Response experts have investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirm the Nigerian security forces were present at the Lekki Toll Gate when the shootings occurred.
The evidence confirms that Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base approximately a seven-minute drive from the toll gate, at 6.29pm local Lagos time on 20 October.
Footage then tracks the vehicles to the toll gate - with four vehicles apparently belonging to the Nigerian military and police seen with flashing lights heading in a convoy heading east along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue - which changes its name to the Lekki-Epe Expressway - in the direction of the toll gate. En route, the vehicles passed several international buildings, including the Japanese Embassy and the Australian High Commission.
Further photographs and footage capture the vehicles arriving at the toll gate, before the peaceful protest is disrupted by men in military uniform, and gunfire is heard at approximately 6.45pm as the soldiers opened fire on #EndSars protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.
As night time descended, protesters continued to film and share videos of the shootings. Later in the evening, videos of the victims were also shared on social media
Amnesty is again calling on the Nigerian authorities to bring to justice those behind the shooting and to protect those who are exercising their right to freedom of assembly.
Amnesty is meanwhile still investigating the shooting and the reported removal of bodies of those killed by the military in an attempt to cover up the incident.
Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said:
“What happened at Lekki Toll Gate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings.
“One week on, the Nigerian authorities still have many questions to answer: who ordered the use of lethal force on peaceful protesters? Why were CCTV cameras on the scene dismantled in advance? And who ordered electricity to be turned off minutes before the military opened fire on protesters?
“The initial denials of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting was followed by the shameful denial of the loss of lives as a result of the military’s attack against the protests.
“Many people are still missing since the day of the incident, and credible evidence shows that the military prevented ambulances from reaching the severely injured in the aftermath.”
Amnesty has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSars protest began on 8 October.
Nigerians have been taking to the streets peacefully demanding an end to brutality, extortion and extrajudicial executions by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian police tasked with fighting violent crimes.
At least 56 people have died across the country since the protests began. In multiple cases, the security forces have used excessive force in an attempt to control or stop the protests.