#EndSARS: Lagos judicial panel being persecuted after Lekki ‘massacre’ report – Member

A member of the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the investigation of the Lekki toll gate incident, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has raised alarm over the persecution of panel members since the report of its findings was submitted to the state government.

 

Mr Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said in his statement on Thursday that members of the panel are being “unfairly persecuted,” and called names.

 

“Since the submission of the EndSARS Panel Report to the Governor of Lagos State on November 15, 2021, members of the panel have become subject of vicious attacks by those suspected to be agents of the government.

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#EndSARS: Lagos judicial panel being persecuted after Lekki ‘massacre’ report – Member
#EndSARS: Lagos judicial panel being persecuted after Lekki ‘massacre’ report – Member

“All manner of allegations have been heaped upon panel members, some of who have been called unprintable names.

 

“Just today, my attention has been drawn to an interview by a Senior Counsel to the Lagos State Government, to the effect that panel members collected bribe in the course of the assignment. It is unfair, ungodly, and least expected of the government and its lawyers,” Mr Adegboruwa said in the statement.



The lawyer said no member of the panel lobbied to be appointed, as in his own case, the governor “appealed” to him to accept his appointment, which he saw as a call to national service.

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“The primary reason the governor gave to me then was that he wanted men and women of integrity, independent and not subject to manipulation, to be on the panel.”

 

The judicial panel, in its report, said at least 46 unarmed protesters were either shot dead, injured with bullets, or assaulted by security forces at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20 last year.

 

The panel said it found out that nine persons were killed, while 33 others were shot at, wounded, and assaulted on the night of the incident.

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Mr Adegboruwa said although the Lagos State government asked for two weeks to enable it release a white paper on the panel’s report, it would seem that the government has “unleashed mindless propaganda upon panel members whilst at the same time asking for restraint from the general public.”

 

The lawyer urged the Lagos state government to call its agents and lawyers to order so as not to provoke aggravated responses, adding that he has copies of all proceedings and exhibits tendered before the panel in respect of the Lekki tollgate incident.

 

“It is unfair to seek to denigrate peoples’ hard-earned reputation on account only that they accepted to render selfless service at the behest of government. If the government and its agents are not restrained from attacking others, nothing stops us from defending our integrity.



“I should not become a victim of unwarranted attack just because I accepted to serve the government and the outcome of that assignment did not favour the expectations of the government. Suffice it to mention that I worked with men and women of unblemished integrity and I’m proud to be associated with them all, ” Mr Adegboruwa said.

 

He appealed to the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to call all agents of the state to order and to keep to his promise to release a white paper within two weeks, and also send the unedited report of the panel, to the National Economic Council.

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The panel’s report had elicited diverse reactions from Nigerians, with many recounting the incident of the night of October 20 last year, at Lekki tollgate.

 

Buhari breaks silence

Meanwhile, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has told the visiting United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, that his government will allow the system to exhaust itself, and will, therefore, wait for pronouncements from state governments which set up panels to probe police brutality in the country.

 

Buhari said this on Thursday at State House, Abuja, while receiving in audience the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

 

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Endsars probe panel report: we wait for the states, President Buhari tells Blinken, American Secretary of State.’



Speaking, he said, “So many state governments are involved, and have given different terms of reference to the probe panels. We at the Federal have to wait for the steps taken by the states, and we have to allow the system to work.

 

“We can’t impose ideas on them. Federal Government has to wait for the reaction of the states.”

 

On the recent removal of Nigeria from the watchlist of countries violating religious freedom, which Blinken said was “based on facts,” the President expressed the country’s appreciation, noting that there was freedom of worship in Nigeria, and no one is discriminated against based on his or her faith.

 

He said education is a priority in the country, “because when you educate a people, there are certain levels they will not fall below.”

 

The President equally appreciated the United States of America for allowing Nigeria to procure military hardware to fight terrorism in the country, and for the training given to the Nigerian military.

 

“It’s helping us to stabilize the situation in the Northeast, and we’ve made a lot of progress since 2015. We are doing a lot on security, and the people involved appreciate our efforts,” he said.

 

On the development of democratic ethos, Buhari said Nigeria has adopted the American model, “hook, line, and sinker, with its term limits. Those who have attempted to breach it were disappointed, if not disgraced.

 

“You are even lucky if you have two terms. Others try hard and don’t get it. The American model has been accepted by Nigerians as the best.”



Nigeria and her neighbours, the President noted, have been living with the impact of climate change for a while, which has seen Lake Chad shrink drastically from its original size, and affected the livelihood of about 30 million people in the Lake Chad Basin countries.

 

“That is why the youths defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean to attempt emigrating to Europe. Inter-basin water transfer is needed to keep the youths at home, and they can resume their lives of farming, fishing, and animal husbandry,” he explained.

 

In his remarks, Blinken, who had held a virtual meeting with the Nigerian President earlier in the year said jocularly that it was now good to see him “mask to mask, hoping that we will soon see face to face.”

He appreciated the contributions of Buhari to the protection of the climate, particularly his presence and contributions at the recent COP26 climate conference held in Glasgow, Scotland.

 

Blinken said America and Nigeria have diverse challenges, but a common denominator is security, and hoped for better partnerships, “so that the bad guys won’t get the good guys.”

 

He also described the report of the EndSARS probe panel as “democracy in action,” stressing that America equally had its own police brutality, and hoping that necessary reforms would be made.

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