The Lagos state government has reacted to the shootings at the Lekki tollgate where #EndSARS protesters gathered on Tuesday evening, October 20.
The Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, ordered an immediate investigation into the shootings which happened hours after he imposed a 24-hour curfew in the state.
Men dressed in military gear opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate around 7pm on Tuesday, leaving many dead, injured and hospitalised.
The lights and security cameras were turned off before the shootings began.
“Members of the Nigerian army pulled up on us and they started firing. They were shooting, they were firing straight at us and a lot of people got hit. I just barely survived,”
says Akinbosola Ogunsanya, who was at the scene of the incident.
The peaceful protesters have been calling for an end to police brutality since October 4; and had blocked the Lekki-Epe toll gate, Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge and other major roads in Lagos, while staging sit-in, candle-lit processions for victims of police brutality.
The protests had turned violent and fatal in Lagos and across the country, however, with hoodlums hijacking the marches and burning down police stations for effect.
Sanwo-Olu announced a 24-hour curfew at noon of October 20 in a bid to curtail the violence and halt the anarchy.
The governor initially announced that the curfew will commence at 4pm. This was later moved to 9pm hours later.
The men in military gear opened fire on the unarmed protesters two hours before the curfew was billed to kick off. So many have been reported dead and many injured.
However, Sanwo-Olu blamed the shooting of peaceful protesters bythe security agents on “forces beyond his control.”
The governor, who said Tuesday evening was the toughest night of “our lives,” said the shooting leaves dark notes in the history of the state.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, who posted the statement on Twitter early this morning, shared pictures of himself visiting those injured in the shooting.
According to Mr Sanwo-Olu, 10 victims are currently being treated at the state-owned General Hospital, 11 at Reddington Hospital, and four at Vedic Lifecare Hospital. He also said two victims of the shooting were receiving intensive medical care while three victims had been released.
The governor did not give the figure of the fatalities from the shooting, but witnesses said there were about a dozen dead. Mr Sanwo-Olu promised to make a state broadcast later this morning.
Below is the governor’s statement.
”This is the toughest night of our lives as forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history, but we will face it and come out stronger.
I’ve just concluded visits to hospitals with victims of this unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki. It has taken me this long to make a statement because I have to prioritize the welfare of the victims of this very sad incident.
There are currently 10 patients at the Gen Hospital, 11 at Reddington and 4 at Vedic; with mild to moderate levels of injuries while 2 are receiving intensive medical care. 3 patients have been discharged & we will continue to monitor and ensure all patients get the best care.
As the Governor of our state, I recognize the buck stops at my table and I will work with the FG to get to the root of this unfortunate incident and stabilise all security operations to protect the lives of our residents.
I will give a state broadcast in the morning.”
Forces beyond your direct control indeed!
The shootings have been condemned by all sane voices in Nigeria and abroad.
Former U.S presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, called on President Buhari to “stop killing young #EndSARS protesters.”
Former Senate President Bukola Saraki, said “this is not the Nigeria that we hope to leave for the next generation. Our young people are the future of our country. This is not the Nigeria we have worked for, striven for, prayed for and have sacrificed for.
“Dialogue is the only logical option in the current situation and not violence. Dialogue may take a longer time to work and it may appear frustrating. Still, as a leading member in the comity of nations, violent silencing of protesting youths cannot be an option for Nigeria.”
More than 30 people have now been reported dead across the country since the protests were reignited penultimate week.