Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has flawed the report of the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the alleged Lekki Toll Gate shooting, saying it is “a rehash of the unverified fake news that has been playing on social media since the incident of October 20, 2020.”
Mohammed said this on Tuesday at a press conference in Abuja.
TheFact Nigeria recalled that an eight-man panel led by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi had submitted a 309-page report to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, indicting soldiers and police for killing peaceful protesters at Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020.
The panel report stated that at least nine persons were killed by security agents at the scene and listed 48 names as casualties, including 22 protesters, who sustained gunshot injuries and 15 others allegedly assaulted by soldiers and police.
Commenting on the findings of the panel, President Muhammadu Buhari said state governments will have to take steps on the reports of their panels, before the federal government acts on the recommendations.
“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,” he said.
However the minister insisted that there was no “massacre” at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020.
He said it is incredible that a Judicial Panel set up to investigate an incident had submitted a report laden with allegations, “the same allegations it was set up to investigate in the first instance”.
He added that never in the history of any Judicial Panel in Nigeria had its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendoes, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence, as did the panel’s report.
According to the minister , “What is circulating in public space is simply a rehash of the unverified fake news that has been playing on social media since the incident of Oct. 20th 2020.
“It is simply incredible that a Judicial Panel set up to investigate an incident has submitted a report laden with allegations.
“Instead of sitting for all of one year, the panel could have just compiled social media ‘tales by the moonlight’ on the incident and submitted, saving taxpayers’ funds and everyone’s time.
“That report is nothing but the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a vociferous lynch mob.
”The Team finds that from the medical data examined, including the timeline of arrival at medical facility and the nature of the injuries sustained by the Victims, who were taken to the 5 medical facilities, that no military grade live ammunition (high-velocity) was fired at the protesters at Lekki Tollgate on 20th October 2020, within the timeframe of reference (18.30- 20.34hrs).”
He added, “It is clear, from the ongoing, that the report of the panel in circulation cannot be relied upon because its authenticity is in doubt. Besides, the Lagos State Government, being the convening authority, has yet to release any official report to the public.
“Neither has the panel done so. The cowardly leakage of an unsigned report to the public is not enough. Assuming the report in circulation bears any iota of genuineness, it is basic knowledge that the report of such a panel is of no force until the convening authority issues a White Paper and Gazette on it.
“It is therefore too premature for any person or entity to seek to castigate the Federal Government and its agencies or officials based on such an unofficial and unvalidated report.”