Nigeria’s army has admitted to deploying troops to Lekki to restore order, but the army is disputing claims of gunfire and torture of peaceful protestors.
Major Osoba Olaniyi, the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, said any allegations of police violence and killings were unfounded.
“This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country. At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian,” the statement reads.
“From the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos were involved. However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government (LASG) after a 24 hours curfew was imposed. This was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away,” Olaniyi insisted.
Amnesty International said at least 12 people were killed by the military last week when they opened fire on peaceful protesters who had violated the mandatory curfew. Demonstrators were rallying against police brutality and killings at the hands of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS.)
The human rights group published an investigation, claiming it had tracked army vehicles from their Lagos barracks to Lekki Toll Gate. Amnesty International says it has photographs and verified videos of the soldiers’ movements via social media.
Still, Olaniyi maintains that the soldiers carried out their orders with civility during the bloody protests.
“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy. The intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for Internal Security operations and all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Internal Security operations,” he continued.
On Tuesday, October 20, demonstrators posted hundreds of images documenting the violence. Social media was flooded with pictures and video footage of the dead and the wounded.
Olaniyi says the reports are just an attempt to “tarnish” the army’s reputation.
“Finally, Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army reiterates Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities did not shoot at any civilian as there are glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact. This allegation is the hand work of mischief makers who will stop at nothing to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Army. The general public is hereby enjoined to discountenance this allegation as there is no iota of truth therein,” the statement concludes.