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EndSARS:US Government Faults Claims That Nigerian Army Killed Protesters At Lekki Tollgate|RN

■Acknowledges formation of Judicial Panels afterwards

The United States government has exonerated the Nigerian Army of any killings during the #ENDSARS protests in Lekki Tollgate, Lagos State on October 20, last year.

According to the just released US Department of State’s 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria, it noted that the US government did not believe that Nigerian soldiers killed protesters at the Lekki Tollgate incident.

Following the Lekki incident, some Nigerians on Social media had falsely claimed that the Nigerian Army had opened fire on unarmed protesters who had gathered at the Lekki toll gate, killings several protesters.

The Nigerian army rejected these claims, stating that soldiers only fired blank bullets, and not live bullets into the crowd of protesters.

However, despite evidence from the Nigerian Army that it had fired only blank bullets, many critics kept up the narrative with sensational hashtags like #LekkiMassacre #LekkiGenocide.

The US report also rubbishes the claims by several international media and organizations like Amnesty International and Cable News Network (CNN) that many had died during the Lekki tollgate incident.

The US government also acknowledged the formation of the Judicial Panels to investigate cases and complaints of SARS and police brutality. Following the #EndSars protests, the National Economic Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had recommended the establishment of state-based judicial panels of inquiry to also ensure justice for victims and families affected.  Eventually more than 30 States including the FCT set up such panels and some redress already being put in places.

In the section titled, “Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings”, the report gave a background to the Lekki incident, but stated categorically that “no other organization was able to verify the claim” that some persons had died during the incident.

The report read, “On October 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 organization 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. At year’s end the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution continued to hear testimony and investigate the shooting at Lekki Tollgate.”

The US report added that, “demonstrations were largely peaceful, but some protests turned violent after criminal elements infiltrated the protests and security forces fired at protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20.” (Vanguard News Nigeria)

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#OccupyLekkiTollgate: Police Acted Professionally, Nobody Got Hurt —Lauretta Onochie |The Republican News

Lauretta Onochie, aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, has commended the police over the way it handled the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest in Lagos on Saturday.

In a tweet on Sunday, Mrs Onochie gave kudos to the police, saying nobody was hurt during the protest.

She said: “Kudos to the @PoliceNG for the professional manner it operated at Lekki yesterday. Nobody was hurt.

“Best of all, no police officer was killed nor roasted and eaten. We must applaud you for doing well so that you can take our criticisms of your shortcomings in good faith. Thank you.”

The #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest was staged against the decision of a Lagos judicial panel of inquiry to have the Lekki toll gate reopened under the control of the Lekki Concession Company.

Several persons were arrested and later granted bail including comedian Mr Macaroni.

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Police Occupy Lekki Tollgate To Stop Planned Second Protest Scheduled For Tomorrow |RN

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Police officers at the Lekki tollgate

By Ike A. Offor

The Nigeria police officers set to foil the intended protest at Lekki tollgate scheduled for tomorrow. They dressed up and ready for any situation. The officers seem to have come mainly from the Lagos state Rapid Response Squad, RRS

The officer are seen armed with teargas cannisters, guns and other weapons and riot gears. How they are planning to stop the protesters is something that is yet to be seen.

The police officers gathered at the intended venue for the protest and have  their trucks for carrying prisoners in case there is violence or they found it worthy to make arrests.

It s still very unclear if that would deter the Nigerian youths who were determined in the last #EndSARS protest and defied all odds to express their anger against the special police squad known as SARS.

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FG Won’t Allow Second Protest At Lekki Tollgate —Lai Mohammed |The Republican News

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

By Godsgift Onyedinefu

The federal government on Thursday warned that it will not allow another EndSars protest in the country and Nigerians planning to protest at the Lekki Toll Gate this weekend should desist from it.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who gave the hint at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, said that allowing the protest could trigger another round of uncontrolled destruction of lives and property.

Minister for information and culture speaking planned second protest at Lekki tollgate

Mohammed said: “No government anywhere will allow a repeat of the kind of destruction, killing and maiming wrought by the hijackers of EndSars protests last year.

“After all, only one policeman – (plus four others) – was killed in the invasion of the US Capitol in January, yet the FBI has continued to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators. No life is more important than the other.

“The Federal Government is also keenly watching the role being played by the various social media platforms in this renewed clamour for violence in the country.

“Recall that the social media platforms that eagerly nudged on the EndSars protesters, until the situation got out of hand, are the same ones that quickly pulled the plug on even their own President when the chips were down in their own country.

“I hope we have all learnt our lessons. If we allow them to destroy our country, we will bear the brunt,” the minister said.

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BREAKING: Court Orders Banks To Unfreeze Accounts Of EndSARS Promoters -|The Republican News

By Fikayo Olowolagba

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the unfreezing of accounts belonging to some promoters of the End SARS protest.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, who gave the ruling on Wednesday, ordered all affected banks to “immediately defreeze the affected accounts of End SARS promoters.”

Justice Mohammed proceeded to strike out the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020 filed by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Recall that the ex-parte order to freeze the accounts for 180 days was made on November 4, 2020.

The court’s decision was reportedly informed by the withdrawal of all processes filed in relation to the suit by lawyers to all parties.

At the commencement of proceedings, former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), who appeared for the CBN Governor and Femi Falana (SAN), for those affected by the freezing order resolved to withdraw all the processes filed.

This is to ensure the unhindered progress of the ongoing process of reconciliation, at the various panels of enquiry on police brutality across the nation. (Daily Post)

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Peter Okoye Clashes With Kenechukwu Okeke Over Opening Of Lekki Tollgate |The Republican News

Singer Peter Okoye and human rights activist, Kenechukwu Okeke, clashed on Twitter on February 7, over the reopening of the Lekki toll gate.

The Lagos state panel of Inquiry on Saturday, February 6, gave the Lekki Concession Company LCC the go-ahead to repossess the tollgates that have been shut down since the October 20 gunshot incident.

Reacting via his Twitter handle, Peter who is against the move, wrote

”If una like make una go hand over lekki tollgate to Jesus! No justice NO LCC #EndSARS #NoMoreTollGate”

Activist, Kenechukwu who made news last year when he sued Davido, Pastor Adeyemi, Aisha Yesusfu, and others over their involvement in the EndSARS protest, kicked against Peter Okoye’s position to the reopening of the tollgate. He wrote

”My attention has been brought to the antics of one Mr. Peter Okoye

@PeterPsquare whose shenanigan is to incite riots, and breach of public peace. One begins to wonder why a private citizen would constitute himself as being superior to a Tribunal established by law.”

Responding to Kenechukwu’s tweet, Peter wrote

”Use that your attention and wipe that your dirty asshole!”

Continue to see their exchange below

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#EndSARS: I Thought It Was About Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS —Anthony Joshua |The Republican News

I thought the protests which rocked Nigeria in October was a fight against a virus Severe acute respiratory syndrome which also has the SARS acronym.

In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, Joshua said because he had never been a victim of police brutality while in Nigeria, he had never heard of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

Joshua joined global stars in supporting the #EndSARS movement after Nigerians had gone to the streets to protest against the activities of SARS whose officers were accused of extrajudicial killings, unlawful detentions, torture, extortion and various forms of abuses.

The boxer said it was after his uncle called his attention to the protests in Nigeria that he had to read more about SARS and Nigeria’s history.

“I never knew what SARS was during my time in Nigeria; I never encountered SARS, so, when the movement started happening, I thought SARS was maybe like a virus, I didn’t know SARS. One day after training, my uncle called me and this was just before the issue of the Lekki toll gate, about five hours before it, he called me and told me about the situation on the ground. He told me the people of Nigeria loved me and wanted to hear my voice on it,” Joshua told Saturday PUNCH.

“I told him I didn’t know enough about it to talk about it and he said I should just lend my voice and bring awareness. So, I said if it’s what I can do for now, let me just lend my voice and bring my attention to it because I have a big platform. So, I just said it’s important to find a common ground because you can’t overthrow the government in a minute, but we need to find a common solution that will benefit the people.

“So I thought it was important for me to send out a positive message and shortly after that, about four hours later, people had been murdered at the toll gate. So, I said this wasn’t only about finding a common ground, this had to stop. But I didn’t want to go back on my message, I had sent a message out and I had done a lot more research about the #EndSARS movement.

“I also started learning about the colonial history, the structure of the political powers, the Hausa, the Yoruba, the Igbo. I learnt about the Biafra war, I learnt about Lady Lugard, I learnt about why Nigeria is called Nigeria – because of the River Niger and the area.

“So, I started doing a lot of research on the country and I found out that the country has so much potential, it is a country where people are thriving to be better and with the leaders, they need to put more into the people, and that is what the #EndSARS is about. It is not just about the police, it is about good government looking after the people, and that is what the people want and I am with the people, I am a man of the people, so I support what they say.

“And from that #EndSARS movement, it educated me what SARS was, it educated me about the issues in Nigeria, it gave me more. I felt proud to be a Nigerian because I learnt more about the country’s heritage after the #EndSARS movement,” he added. (Punch)

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#EndSARS: DJ Switch To Speak To International Criminal Court Today |The Republican News

By Arogbonlo Israel

DJ Switch, a Nigerian female disc jockey, says she’ll be addressing the International Criminal Court (ICC) today, 17th December, 2020 over the #EnSARS protests that greeted the country in October.

Her words; “Tomorrow 17th of December 2020, I will be speaking at the 19th assembly of states parties to the International Criminal Court.

“I know we are all experiencing hardship one way or the other, I know it seems like no one cares enough for Nigeria and Africa to help us fight our oppressors. but this is the generation that does not take NO for an answer! So let me tell you straight up, it will take time… Maybe a long time.”

“So what do we have to lose that we already did not have? Security? Jobs? A working health system? What do we have to lose? Don’t give up! I told you… I’m not great at social media and updates but we are fighting seriously behind the scenes, something will definitely give,” she wrote.

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Lagos State Lekki Toll Gate CCTV Doctored, Vital Pictures Missing — CNN Questions The Republican News|

#Endsars Lekki Toll Gate protesters

CNN has criticized the Lagos State government’s security camera footage of the Lekki toll gate shooting, saying “the Lagos State government’s security camera footage did not capture everything” and queried why “surveillance video from the evening does not provide a more complete picture.”

The international media organisation had last week released an investigative report that alleged that the Nigerian army used live bullets on protesters during its intervention in the #EndSARS protest at Lekki tollgate in Lagos state.

In its latest report, the media outfit said “the footage corroborates the timings CNN reported for the gunshots fired by the army. It also shows soldiers approaching protesters and firing shots.”

CNN said it obtained a copy of the CCTV footage ahead of the Justice Doris Okuwobi Lagos judicial panel’s sitting on Saturday which was set up to investigate cases of brutality by members of the disbanded special anti-robbery squad (SARS) and other police abuses. as well as the Lekki shooting incident.

“What is perhaps most notable is what’s missing, at 6:47 p.m., the moment when CNN has video of the army appearing to fire directly at protesters, the surveillance camera pans away from the area.

“The surveillance camera pans left and tilts up before reframing and struggling for focus. It is unclear if the camera pans away deliberately or whether the pan away is a poor choice by the CCTV operator,” CNN’s latest report read.

The Lekki Concession Company (LCC), the firm that operates the toll gate had previously testified before the panel and said its staff were sent home before an evening curfew, and also said the cameras at the tollgate stopped recording from 8 pm on October 20.

CNN also accused Brigadier Ahmed Taiwo, the Commander of the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army of providing contradicting testimonies to the judicial panel.

“For the protection of the force, we carried live bullets in case they were attacked. But the soldiers who formed the firing team, who fired as you could see in the video […] carried magazines charged with blank ammunition,” General Taiwo said.

On Monday, the Nigerian government called out CNN in a petition demanding an “immediate and exhaustive investigation” into its report on the shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate to determine its authenticity.

The country’s Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed also warned that the government reserved the right to prevent CNN from “aggravating the #EndSARS crises with unprofessional, irresponsible reporting” that could set the country on fire.

By Abel Ejikeme

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North Ready To Discuss All Elements Of Our Co-existence But Will Not Be Stampede —Northern Elders

Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed

by Kazeem Tunde

Northern Elders Forum, NEF, have said they were aware of alleged attempts by some politicians interested in contesting the 2023 presidential election to weaken the North on many fronts in the aftermath of #EndSARS protest.

The Forum also said it had credible information about an alleged plan to force restructuring on the North under the guise of ending the agitation against bad governance in the country.

NEF’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement on Wednesday night, said that the North was capable of identifying and protecting its own interests, and would neither be blackmailed nor intimidated into accepting restructuring as a means to higher standards of justice, better security, and progress for all Nigerians.

He said, “The Forum is aware of attempts to weaken the North by interests that believe that this is their only path to success in the 2023 elections.

“These interests should know that the North will neither be blackmailed nor intimidated, and we are quite capable of identifying and protecting our own interests.

“Some of these interests seek to exploit our plural nature and deepen what they see as divisions. They will fail, because northerners know that what unites us is a lot stronger than what divides us.

“Others create the impression that the North is opposed to the country being restructured along lines that will improve the quality of our union, ensure higher standards of justice, better security and progress for all Nigerians. These too will fail.

“The North is ready to discuss all elements of our co-existence, but will not be stampeded into submitting to other interests who feel uncomfortable with a strong and united North, or blackmailing us to adopt their versions of our future.”

NEF also said it was disappointed that last week’s meeting in Kaduna by Northern Governors, high-level federal government officials and traditional rulers barely made mention of the insecurity of communities within the region The elders said the focus of the meeting on the potential for abuse of social media platforms and the possibility of hoodlums hijacking the #EndSARS protest in many cities of the south was uncalled for.

Baba-Ahmed said, “That meeting missed a historic opportunity to acknowledge that northern communities are in dire need of improved security, and to give firm and specific assurances that our leaders care about northern lives and will take steps to protect us.

“We took particular note of the pivotal roles of governors and traditional rulers at that meeting, leaders who are thoroughly familiar with daily assaults by insurgents, bandits and kidnappers on northerners.

“These are leaders who should have understood the high hopes which northerners attached to a meeting of that nature in Kaduna, and they should understand that the impression left by that meeting and the frenzy of activities in parts of the south involving some northern leaders to show sympathy for damage from hoodlums leaves only one conclusion in the mind of northerners: northern lives do not matter.”

The Forum noted the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to improve engagements with northern leaders, and hoped that these will not be public relations stunts in place of real efforts aimed at improving the security of the region.

“The Forum advises the President and Governors to engage a broad spectrum of leaders, elders and the young in the North to contribute to an appreciation of the dangers which our communities live with on a daily basis, and enlist them as partners in the search for solutions,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Northern elders paid tribute to its Director-General, Dr Yima Sen, who died recently, describing his services to the Forum as invaluable.

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