The Nigerian Army, contrary to its decision last week, will appear on Saturday before the Lagos State Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged shooting of #EndSARS peaceful protesters by soldiers on October 20 at the Lekki tollgate.
Sources close to the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel confirmed to The PUNCH on Thursday that the army had acknowledged the panel’s invitation and the panel had fixed Saturday (November 7) for its appearance at the hearing taking place at the Lagos Court of Arbitration, Lekki.
Recall that for two weeks last month, youths calling for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police protested across the country.
In Lagos, the protests assumed a tragic dimension when soldiers shot protesters at the Lekki tollgate.
The shootings have attracted local and international condemnations with Amnesty International saying that no fewer than 12 people were killed.
Sunday PUNCH on November 1 reported that the Lagos State panel had invited the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, whose soldiers were alleged to have carried out the shootings.
But the spokesman for the Nigerian Army, 81 Division, Lagos, Major Osoba Olaniyi, said the army would not honour a summons from the panel as the army believed that it was not the panel’s “duty” to invite the army.
Olaniyi had stressed that the military would only appear before the panel if it received an invitation directly from the Lagos State Government, rather than the panel.
“If we receive a letter from the state, we will go. Are we not under civil authorities? Are we not part of Nigerians? Have you forgotten that we did not go there (Lekki tollgate) on our own?.
“It is the state government that constituted that panel of inquiry. So, if anybody needs to get in touch with us to come, it is still the state, not the members,” Olaniyi had said.
But on Thursday, multiple sources confirmed to The PUNCH that the army had changed its position and would be presenting its case before the panel on Saturday.