The Lagos State Government has released the White Paper on the report issued by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the Lekki Tollgate shooting in the state, turning down one of the 32 recommendations that stipulated it erect a cenotaph in honour of the nine deceased protesters that died during military attacks at the facility.
It said that there was no clear evidence indicating nine persons died while protesting at the Lekki tollgate last year, 2020, and further described the panel’s findings and conclusion on the number of death as totally unreliable and therefore unacceptable.
The government, turned down the recommendation in its White Paper released on Tuesday, arguing that only one person died and that the deceased did not give up at the scene rather within a hospital from gunshot wounds hours after the attack.
According to the white paper, the report contradicted the evidence of the Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa that only three of the bodies that they conducted post mortem examination on were from Lekki that only one had gunshot injury, was not debunked.
The White Paper said: “The JPI’s finding of nine deaths is therefore irreconcilable with evidence of Prof. Obafunwa that only one person died of gunshot wounds at 7:43 pm at Lekki Tollgate on 21st October 2020.
“Having held that there was no evidence before it to the contrary of what Prof. Obafunwa said. The question is, where did JPI then get its finding of nine deaths?”
According to the White Paper, “This finding of nine deaths at LTG on 20th October 2020 is even more baffling because apart from listing out their names in tabular form at pages 297-298, the JPI offered no explanation regarding circumstances of their death. The names simply sprang up at pages 297-298 of the report without any justification.
“It is quite astonishing that in the list of eleven (11) deaths set out at pages 297-298, two (2) of the names appeared twice (Kolade Salami and Folorunsho Olabisi as Nos. 37 and 38). Furthermore, the person listed as No. 46 Nathaniel Solomon who testified as a witness and petitioned the JPI in respect of his brother who he alleged died at Lekki Tollgate (LTG), himself listed as having died at LTG on 20th October 2020.
“Remarkably, Nathaniel Solomon’s deceased brother (Abuta Solomon) was then also listed as No 2 on the list of persons who died at LTG.
“The only victim of gunshot injury from LTG was picked up at 7:43pm, on 21 October, 2020 after the curfew commenced (see page 99) Furthermore, there was no shred of evidence regarding who shot him.
“Another substantial inconsistency in the JPI Report was the award y compensation to only one (1) out of the alleged nine (9), listed as “deceased” which showed that the JPI itself had doubts as to the death of eight (8) other allegedly deceased persons on its list”.
On the recommendation that October 20th annually should be made a national day, the government stressed that it had no power to do such, saying the request will therefore be forwarded to the Federal Government for consideration.
Also, the government rejected the proposal that the Lekki Toll Plaza be a memorial site for EndSARS and that it be renamed as the EndSARS Tollgate, and rather stated that a Peace Park would be established to serve as a reminder of peaceful protest against human rights abuse.
In the 24 pages white paper released by the government through the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, meanwhile, accepted 11 of the other 31 recommendations made in the report submitted to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu by the panel chairman, Justice Doris Okuwobi (retd).
The government also accepted six of the 31 other recommendations included in the report but did these with modalities to the request made by the panel members before the government.