United States Government has said that the Nigerian security forces fired shots into the air to disperse #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos on October 20, 2020.
This contradicts allegations from media reports that some eyewitnesses saw soldiers firing live ammunition at the peaceful protesters.
This disclosure is contained in the 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria released by the US Department of State on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
The report pointed out that there was no accurate information on the number of fatalities from the shootings contrary to Amnesty International’s report that 10 people died during the incident as a result of gunshot wounds.
What the report on Human Rights Practices on Nigeria is saying
The report partly reads, “On Oct. 20, members of the security forces enforced curfew by firing shots into the air to disperse protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos to protest abusive practices by the Nigerian Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end.
Amnesty International reported 10 persons died during the event, but the government disputed Amnesty’s report, and no other organisation was able to verify the claim.
The government reported two deaths connected to the event. One body from the toll gate showed signs of blunt force trauma.
A second body from another location in Lagos State had bullet wounds. The government acknowledged that soldiers armed with live ammunition were present at the Lekki Toll Gate.”
It can be recalled that in the aftermath of the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate, US-based media outfit, Cable News Network (CNN), in its investigate report, aired a video allegedly showing Nigerian soldiers shooting at unarmed protesters at the tollgate, based on video evidence from mobile phones and witnesses.
The Federal Government in its response insisted that the military did not shoot at the #EndSARS protesters, describing the alleged mass killings as a massacre without bodies.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari, while expressing his disgust at the coverage of the incident by foreign media organisations like CNN and BBC, said that their reports on the EndSARS protests were not balanced.