By Nelson Ekujumi
One has tried futilely to refrain from speaking on the “leaked EndSARS panel report” which has been generating so much controversy because one wants to await the release of the report and the white paper from the official quarters, but must confess that my conscience would not allow me to keep quiet any more, moreso as a active observer during the panel sittings, hence the suspension of my silence with this opinion before the government white paper is made public incase the leaked report turns out to be the genuine one.
One is being forced to break his silence because of a Yoruba proverb which says, “Gbe, gbe, gbe, bi iwo, ko ba ba won gbe, won agbe si ehin kun le re”, literally meaning that one should strike the iron when it’s hot.
Going further, the Holy Bible admonishes that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).
With the above biblical quote in mind, one is being forced to give his own account of the panel sitting that he witnessed for almost one year from October 2020 to October 2021 writing down daily proceedings in black and white objectively and neutrally for posterity sake.
Before we go further, let me confess that when the incident of October 20th 2020 happened, I was one of those who doubted the veracity of the claims of massacre following how persons who were mentioned as dead victims, started resurrecting to debunk the lies and the exposed doctoring of images and reports just to paint a gory picture of the event of that day. Consequently, even as the sole person in the family who doubted the story without corroborative evidence despite been labelled as inhuman, wicked and devil, one continued to commit the crime of insisting that only and until the statements of what happened is corroborated with facts and evidence, that one would continue to stand alone and not be swayed by emotions and sentiments.
Before the reader also aligns with those who have called some of us names for the crime of asking for evidence of the incident of 20th October 2020 in order to shift from our position of a doubting Thomas, let me make it very clear, that the writer was nowhere near Lekki tollgate plaza on the day of the incident and so is not on a position to report as an eye witness, but for someone to come out as an eye witness or victim and all he has to provide as evidence is emotion laden statement, hearsays and innuendos, then one must confess that until facts and evidence are tendered to corroborate a position, this writer and so many like him, will not shift ground.
Following from my coverage of the panel proceedings which is documented and will be published into a book soon, one makes bold to state emphatically that the findings of the leaked report which one is privy to like millions of my country men and women, is inconsistent with the facts and evidence tendered before the panel, except perhaps, the panel sat down somewhere outside of it’s public sittings and decided on its own to assert it’s authority by jettisoning facts, evidence and expert testimonies to arrive at findings inconsistent with facts and evidence but based on emotions, innuendos, personal mindsets and a predetermined conclusion.
As a young man while growing up, one recollects that by following the proceedings of a judicial matter via the media, one could rightly predict the outcome and it would turn out to be consistent with one’s prediction at the end of the day. For a panel that one monitored the proceedings physically to come out with this kind of findings, is to say the least, distasteful, fraudulent, injurious and a disservice to the tenets of justice.
Two cases will suffice for the reader to discern if this leaked report incase it turns out to be original report submitted to the Lagos State government is not supposed to be thrown into the dustbin and the panel members who churned out such travesty of justice report probed and necessary civil action taken against them for shortchanging the society.
In the leaked panel findings, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Maroko police station and his men were recommended to be prosecuted for arbitrary and indiscriminate shooting and killing of protesters. This was a man who was alledged by the EndSARS protesters as being responsible for deaths of protesters on the 20th of October 2020 after the army had left when he wearing white jalabia led his men to the toll gate and shot at protesters and killed them.
Under cross examination, the petitioner was asked if he knew the DPO in person, he answered in the negative, on if he has a photo or video evidence to corroborate? The EndSARS protester again answered in the negative, when asked how he came about his allegation without facts, witness said the people living in the shanties around the tollgate plaza told him his story. Consequently, the DPO was summoned and he honoured the panel invitation, where he denied ever being at the tollgate on the said date in white jalabia, he even challenged his accusers to produce any iota of evidence to back up their claim. In addition he told the panel that wearing of jalabia is not part of the police uniform and in going for an operation, he could never have done such for safety and security purpose.
The panel listened to this testimony and mind you, nobody from the shanties whom the petitioners claimed identified the DPO came forward to testify to corroborate their story with evidence, yet in the “wisdom” of the panel, the DPO is guilty based on hearsay. By the way, if the panel is indicting the DPO of indiscriminate shooting and killings at the Lekki tollgate, shouldn’t those he shot and killed be identified so that we can hold him responsible and liable? Must they be unknown?
Another interesting case recommended for award of compensation as a victim of the “killings” of the 20th October 2020 Lekki tollgate incident, is the case of one Abuta Solomon, whom the elder brother Nathaniel Solomon alledged was killed at the Lekki tollgate plaza on the 20th of October 2020. Petitioner tendered the picture of his brother lifeless body on the ground and when asked under cross examination if the picture of the brother lifeless body was taken at the exact location where it was found, petitioner answered in the affirmative. The counsel then asked him for the location and he responded that it was at the Lekki tollbooth. Counsel then pointed out to the witness that the witness was lying beside grasses as against the tollbooth which is concrete floors, witness then changed his story and said the body was found at the shanties behind Orientals hotels.
When asked for the corpse, Solomon said they have taken the corpse home to the village in Adamawa and buried it. When asked for police report, medical report or autopsy report on cause of death, Solomon said he had none and started crying and his counsel said he was traumatized. At the end of the day, the case was adjourned sine die.
Unfortunately, this case is one of those listed as deserving compensation for being killed at Lekki tollgate plaza on the 20th October 2020 even when from the panel proceedings records, the case was adjourned sine die, this is nothing but a fraud.
One has been perusing the panel proceedings records and has identified so many anomalies and fraudulent insertions which makes the panel members liable to be accused of manipulating a predetermined conclusion as against their oath of neutrality and objectivity and is a disservice to the society that has been shortchanged by this leaked report if it turns out to be the original report.