By Emmanuel Adigwe
A CNN investigation has claimed that live bullets were used to disperse protesters at the Lekki Tollgate contrary to claims by the Nigerian Army.
The CNN report claimed the bullets were from Serbia and that the shooting led to a number of casualties contrary to standing army claims that no one died.
Brigadier General Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo, 81 Division Nigeria Army of the Nigerian Army, had while testifying at the Lagos Judicial Panel of Enquiry had claimed that only blank bullets were used to quell the protest.
However, CNN while countering the claim said: “Evidence of bullet casings from the scene match those used by the Nigerian army when shooting live rounds, according to current and former Nigerian military officials. Verified video footage — using timestamps and data from the video files — shows soldiers who appear to be shooting in the direction of protesters. And accounts from eyewitnesses establish that after the army withdrew, a second round of shooting happened later in the evening.”
The television network further revealed from their investigation that the shooting by the army lasted from 6:43 p.m. until at least 8:24 p.m. which resulted in injuries and people bleeding on the ground.
An eyewitness, Sarah, opened up to CNN that the soldiers shot in the air but also directly at protesters.
She said: “They pointed their guns at us and they started shooting. They were shooting in the air, they were shooting at us, they were shooting everywhere.
“Some chanted: “We are peaceful protesters” and “EndSars, we no go gree [pidgin for we will not agree, or give in].
“They’re shooting, they’re shooting,” another person screams in one of the videos. Cries of “Na lie, na lie [exclamations of disbelief in pidgin]” could also be heard.
According to the videos examined by CNN, some of the protesters were seen carrying bodies as the flashlights of their phones were the only thing illuminating the darkness but the cable network could not ascertain if they were dead or injured protesters.
According to the video analysed by CNN, injured protesters started arriving at local hospitals carried by civilians — from 7:19 p.m. while the shooting was still ongoing.
According to Dr. Ayo Aranmolate, the executive medical director at Grandville Medical Center, he told CNN that he and his colleagues received around 15 injured people that night with various gunshot wounds and cuts but none of the people they treated died.
Dr. Aranmolate said: “We referred some for treatment to other hospitals. One of the victims had to have his leg amputated.”
CNN informed the Lagos State Government spokesman concerning the development but he refused to comment because, “Talking about that subject now will be sub-judicial since the matter is already before a panel of inquiry. Until the panel concludes its investigation, the subject will not be open to any discussion or comment by any State official”.
CNN also investigated the bullet casings at the scene of the shooting saying that it matches those used by the army and two ballistics experts disclosed that the shape of the bullet casings reveal that they used live rounds, which contradicts the army’s claim they fired blanks.
CNN also traced that several of the bullets from Lekki were from Serbia as documents showed that Nigeria purchased weaponry from Serbia almost every year between 2005 and 2016.
CNN further revealed that according to multiple eyewitnesses, after the army left the scene, the police including the disbanded SARS police unit took over.