By Chioma Iruke
One year after the massacre of peaceful EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos State, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday said the narrative by CNN and Amnesty International that Nigerian soldiers massacred protesters were ‘fake news’.
Mohammed in a statement accused Amnesty International and CNN of mere speculations, adding that CNN was summoned by the Nigerian Government over the matter, but it never showed up, “thus missing a great opportunity to prove its allegation of massacre at the toll gate.”
“Today marks the first anniversary of the phantom massacre at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, which was the culmination of an otherwise peaceful protest that was later hijacked by hoodlums. At earlier press conferences, I had called the reported massacre at the toll gate the first massacre in the world without blood or bodies.
“One year later, and despite ample opportunities for the families of those allegedly killed and those alleging a massacre to present evidence, there has been none: No bodies, no families, no convincing evidence, nothing. Where are the families of those who were reportedly killed at the toll gate? Did they show up at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry? If not, why?
“Sadly, the champions of a massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate, including Amnesty International and CNN, have continued to shamelessly hold on to their unproven stand. Recall, gentlemen, that after bandying different figures, Amnesty International finally settled at about 12 people killed.
“On its part, CNN went from 38 people killed to two to just one, after a supposed global exclusive even when the network had no reporter on ground at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th, 2020.
“On Monday, the Judicial Panel of Inquiry that was set up by the Lagos State Government after the EndSARS protest wrapped up its sitting. During the sitting, CNN was summoned but it never showed up, thus missing a great opportunity to prove its allegation of massacre at the toll gate,” he said.
He added that: “Amnesty International had a golden opportunity to convince the world, but it rather opted for issuing meaningless press releases. In its latest attempt to grasp at straws and redeem whatever is left of its battered credibility on this issue, CNN has continued with its baseless report that soldiers shot at protesters.”
While speaking on Wednesday morning to newsmen in Abuja on the same subject matter, the minister promised that the Nigerian Government will compensate the affected youths and prosecute offenders. He said 11 out of 28 states that raised panels on the protest have submitted reports to the National Economic Council (NEC).
He also assured that all those indicted by the various judicial commissions will face trial and all the victims of the
“At its meeting on 15 October 2021, the NEC received an update on the Reports of Judicial Panels of Inquiry into Allegations of Human Rights Violations against Members of Nigeria Police Force and other Security Agencies.
“Note that 28 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – under the auspices of the National Human Rights Commission – had set up Judicial Panels/Commissions of Inquiry to investigate allegations of violations of human rights levied against members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, especially members of the disbanded SARS.
“Out of the 28 States, 11 States (Abia, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, and Rivers) have submitted their final reports to Council. Governors of other States have also indicated that their reports would be submitted soon.
“Following deliberations on the recommendations of the panels, NEC agreed/resolved as follows:
“Each State, in collaboration with the Federal Government, shall establish modalities for the settlement of all monetary compensations awarded by the Panels.
“Already, as resolved by NEC, a number of States have set up Victims Compensation Funds, from which several victims have already received payments of sums awarded to them by the panels.”
“The Council directed State Governors to immediately forward copies of final reports of the panels to their Attorneys-General for prompt arraignment and prosecution of all indicted persons.
“Where incidents in the reports relate to matters of discipline, in addition to prosecution, NEC urged the Nigeria Police Force to take disciplinary action on the affected officers in line with the provisions of the Police Act 2020,” he added.