Amnesty International has warned Nigerian authorities to desist from attempts to cover up the Lekki toll gate massacre, as it released a new timeline investigating the atrocity one week later.
The timeline collates photographs and video footage to confirm that the Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base, approximately a seven-minute drive from the toll gate, at 6:29 pm local time on 20 October.
The footage then tracks the vehicles to the toll gate. At approximately 6:45 pm, the Nigerian military opened fire on the #EndSARS protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.
Amnesty International statement read, “What happened at Lekki Toll Gate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings.
“One week on, the Nigerian authorities still have many questions to answer: who ordered the use of lethal force on peaceful protesters? Why were CCTV cameras on the scene dismantled in advance? And who ordered electricity being turned off minutes before the military opened fire on protesters?
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“The initial denials of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting was followed by the shameful denial of the loss of lives as a result of the military’s attack against the protests.
“Many people are still missing since the day of the incident, and credible evidence shows that the military prevented ambulances from reaching the severely injured in the aftermath.”
Amnesty International is again calling on Nigerian authorities to bring to justice those behind the shooting and to protect those who are exercising their right to freedom of assembly.
The organisation is still investigating the shooting and the reported removal of bodies of those killed by the military in an attempt to remove evidence.
Tracking the Military’s Movements
Amnesty International’s Crisis Response experts investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirmed that Nigerian security forces were present at Lekki toll gate when the shootings occurred.
At 6:29 pm, two military vehicles were filmed leaving Bonny Camp on videos shared on social media. Later, the footage shows four vehicles with flashing lights in a convoy, and they appeared to be vehicles used by the Nigerian military and police.
The same vehicles headed east along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue in the direction of the Lekki toll gate.
More photographs and footage captured the vehicles arriving at the toll gate, before the peaceful protest was disrupted by men in military uniform and gunfire is heard.
As night time descended, protesters continued to film and share videos of the shootings. Later in the evening, videos of the victims were also shared on social media.
Amnesty International has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSARS protest began on 8 October 2020.
Nigerians have been taking to the streets, peacefully demanding an end to police brutality, extrajudicial executions, and extortion by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigeria Police tasked with fighting violent crimes.
At least 56 people have died across the country since the protests began. In multiple cases, security forces have used excessive force in an attempt to control or stop the protests.