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"The soldiers kept shooting:" witnesses testify in Lagos protest probe

GlobalNov 14, 2020 20:24
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© Reuters.

By Libby George
LAGOS, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Nigerian soldiers shot dead
peaceful protesters at a demonstration in Lagos last month,
trucking away the bodies, said written witness testimonies
submitted to a judicial panel on Saturday but contradicted by an
army general.
"The soldiers kept shooting at random, and I saw people
falling to the ground, injured or lifeless," said Dabiraoluwa
Ayuku in her testimony.
Her account was one of three seen by Reuters, and submitted
to the Lagos panel investigating allegations that the army and
police opened fire on and killed people protesting at the city's
Lekki Toll Gate against police brutality.
The protests, the worst since the country's return to
civilian rule in 1999, climaxed in that incident on Oct. 20,
when rights group Amnesty International said soldiers and police
killed at least 12 protesters in two districts.
Both the army and police have denied killing demonstrators.
In testimony to the panel on Saturday, Brigadier General
Ahmed Taiwo, who heads the army's 81st Division in Lagos, said
soldiers fired blank rounds only, into the air, to disperse
protesters.
When shown a photo by Reuters which he used as testimony to
prove the army fired only blanks, he said two bullets among the
11 shown were live rounds, one spent and one unspent. He said
they were not the army's, but perhaps from the police.
"If we fired live rounds into that crowd, the casualties
will have been too much," Taiwo said. "So we made that
judgement, and decided to use blank ammunition."
Police did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Two of the civilian panel witness said some troops fired
into the air, but all three said other soldiers shot peaceful
protesters, injuring or killing them.
"I remember a particular soldier that kept dancing while he
shot," said Ayuku.
Soldiers removed some protesters' corpses in vans, said two
witnesses, one adding that the troops took away bullet casings.
Later that night, police arrived and opened fire on
protesters, two witnesses said. One said they saw police shoot
dead two men.
Ayuku said she returned the next morning to find blood
stains and casings on the floor, while vultures hovered
overhead.


"The soldiers kept shooting:" witnesses testify in Lagos protest probe
 

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