…says Amnesty International’s Report Not Verifiable
The United States State Department on Tuesday said there was no evidence of massive killings at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, during the October #ENDSARS riot in the country.
The State Department, in its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Nigeria said although, there were reports by Amnesty International that 10 protesters were killed during the riots, the government only acknowledged two deaths, with one victim having gunshot wounds in another part of the city.
The report acknowledged that, so far, there has been no evidence to support the alleged killings.
The reports said: “On October 20, members of the security forces enforced curfew by firing shots into the air to disperse protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos to protest abusive practices by the Nigerian Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end. Amnesty International reported 10 persons died during the event, but the government disputed Amnesty’s report, and no other organization was able to verify the claim.
“The government reported two deaths connected to the event. One body from the toll gate showed signs of blunt force trauma. A second body from another location in Lagos State had bullet wounds.
“The government acknowledged that soldiers armed with live ammunition were present at the Lekki Toll Gate. At year’s end the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution continued to hear testimony and investigate the shooting at Lekki Toll Gate.
Speaking general on human rights in the country, the report acknowledged “reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary, unlawful, or extrajudicial killings.”
“At times authorities sought to investigate, and when found culpable, held police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody, but impunity in such cases remained a significant problem. State and federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths did not always make their findings public.
“The national police, army, and other security services sometimes used force to disperse protesters and apprehend criminals and suspects. Police forces engaging in crowd-control operations generally attempted to disperse crowds using nonlethal tactics, such as firing tear gas, before escalating their use of force,” the report added.
The government took some steps to investigate alleged abuses by police, including the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and military forces, but impunity remained a significant problem. There were reports of further progress in formally separating and reintegrating child soldiers previously associated with the Civilian Joint Task Force, a nongovernmental self-defense militia, which received limited state government funding.