The Lagos state government’s Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, appeared before the state’s Judicial Panel on Police Brutality on Tuesday, June 22, where he said most of the injuries sustained by protesters at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 20202, were from machete cuts and stampede.
The Cable reports that Muri-Okunola had come to the panel to present a timeline of the activities of the Lagos state government during the #EndSARS protests, including the Lekki tollgate shooting. He said that during the protest, the state government had set up an ad-hoc committee, referred to as the incident command centre, to monitor the security situation in Lagos. Muri-Okunola told the panel that a day after the shooting that took place at the Lekki tollgate, the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, visited Reddington hospital and General hospital in Marina where he discovered 25 patients were being treated for various injuries.
“Due to the monitoring activities of the incident command centre, we were informed that there were indeed casualties in some of our hospitals in Lagos. There were more than other places based on our feedback and information monitoring in Reddington hospital on Admiralty way, and in General hospital, Marina,” he said.
Getting to about 10:30pm (on October 20, 2020), the governor then decided that we should go out to see what was going on for ourselves, a decision that his core security personnel rejected outrightly as unsafe.#EndSARS: Lagos state government says most injuries from Lekki tollgate were from ?machete cuts, stampede?
At about 12:30am, 21st October, we have crossed to midnight now, because of the number of people that were reported to have been in Reddington hospital, the governor, against the said security advice, decided to visit and see what was going on at the toll plaza, the Reddington hospital and General hospital, Lagos.
In this Reddington hospital, these individuals were injured in that axis. Some of them alluded to being injured in a stampede of running, falling over each other.
Predominantly, there were about 13 people injured in Reddington hospital Admiralty way. The General Hospital also had 12 patients. The doctors in charge said there was one of those patients that was being moved to LASUTH, who had more severe injuries from machete wounds.
At the time we were there, most of the injuries were all in the nature of cuts, bruises from machete wounds and stampede. Nobody at the hospitals said they were shot at.”he was quoted as saying.
Muri-Okunola insisted that only two persons died as a result of the incident at Lekki tollgate.
“The Lagos state governor confirmed two deaths — one of which was said to have died at Reddington hospital on Admiralty way, who died as a result of blunt force trauma, and the other at Yaba. The governor stated that there was going to be an investigation to confirm the nexus of the death in the incident of Lekki” he was quoted as saying.
Commenting on the role played by social media during the #EndSARS protests, he noted that online activities contributed to the “wanton destruction” that occured during the demonstrations.
“The incitement of this misinformation played a major role in the mayhem, wanton destruction and loss of lives that followed the Lekki incident throughout Lagos state, costing taxpayers losses that may take years and billions of naira to mitigate.
There has been controversy about the actual number of alleged deaths at the Lekki toll incident. However, since 22 October, 2020, many of the people reported to have been killed issued denunciation of their rumoured deaths.”he was quoted to have said.
During cross-examination, Adesina Ogunlana, counsel to #EndSARS protesters, asked the head of service about the identity of those involved in the shooting at Lekki tollgate.
Responding, Muri-Okunola said
“That is what I heard. Based on the information that we heard, military men from Bonny camp were there”
The case was adjourned till June 29, 2021, to enable Olumide Fusika, another counsel to #EndSARS protesters, to cross-examine the head of service.