The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria has called for the dismissal, arrest, and trial of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for alleged falsehood as to what transpired at the Lekki tollgate, Lagos State on October 20th, 2020.
The organisation claimed the minister lied to Nigerians, adding that his claims have now been contradicted by a judicial panel of investigators in Lagos.
This was contained in a statement issued against the backdrops of the issuance of a conclusive judicial report by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of investigations into the Lekki incident last year.
Though Lai Mohammed had claimed there was no killing, the panel said there was a massacre in ‘context’.
The PUNCH had reported that the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution on Lekki Toll Gate Shooting Incident and Cases of Police Brutality, as well as human rights violations, accused the Nigerian Army and the Police of complicity in the death of protesters at the Lekki tollgate in 2020.
The 309-page report detailed how the Army and Police disregarded their rules of engagement during the protest.
The report in its executive summary, said: “The panel in its report found that on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki Toll Gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed, helpless and defenseless protesters without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem and the manner of assault and killing could in context be described as a massacre.
“The panel also found that the conduct of the Nigerian Army was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances render medical assistance to victims who required such assistance. The Army was also found not to have adhered to its own Rules of Engagement.”
The statement read, “As there has emerged undisputed evidence that indeed there was systematic annihilation of many civilian protesters in Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State last October, we are asking the President Muhammadu Buhari as a father of all to order the arrest and prosecution of his minister of information, Lai Mohammed for committing a grave and heartless offence that is equivalent to the denial of the Holocaust of the 6 million Jews by Adolf Hitler which is punishable by nearly half a century of incarceration.
“HURIWA is also commending the brave members and Chairperson of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the #ENDSARS PROTESTS especially the circumstances surrounding the massive cases of extrajudicial killings by the Army and armed police when these armed forces opened fire with lethal weapons targeted at the unarmed protesters.
“The Rights group asked the President not to sweep the lawlessness of the security agencies under the carpets just as the Rights group said if the President allows his information minister to get away with the impunity of denying the massacre that happened before the eyes of the world captured live on video cameras, then he will be remembered long after he has retired from public office as a dictator who oversaw the genocide of young protesters and the generations unborn will never forgive him for this.”
Mohammed had stridently claimed that there is no evidence to show that any protester was killed at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020 during a press conference held in Abuja as young people took to the streets nationwide to mark the first anniversary of the #EndSARS protests.
The Minister of Information also faulted the claim by Amnesty International that no fewer than 12 protesters were killed in Lagos State by security operatives during the EndSARS protest.
He described the claim as a ‘phantom’.
He further asked the Cable News Network, DJ Switch among others to “apologise for misleading the world that there was a massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate and for portraying the Nigerian military, police and other security agencies in a bad light.”