Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has said the family members of the victims of the Lekki toll gate shootings have refused to speak about the incident “because of the environment under which we operate”.
The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who said the military is “known for lies and deception”, said there must be justice for those affected by the shooting at unarmed #EndSARS protesters in Lekki, Lagos.
Falana disclosed this on Wednesday at a virtual #EndSARS meeting organised by the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore.
While narrating how the Nigerian Army “covered up” the reported killing of 347 Shi’ites in Zaria, Kaduna state, in 2015, Falana insisted the Lekki incident must not be swept under the carpet
Some soldiers had reportedly opened fire on the Shi’ites during a procession at a time the convoy of Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, was passing.
Although the army claimed few Shi’ites were killed in the incident, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and a panel set up by the Kaduna state government said the casualties were over 300.
Speaking further on shooting at Lekki, Falana accused the army of lying about the incident, saying nothing should have warranted soldiers’ presence at the protest ground.
“Nobody should believe the military, it has a history of lies, fraud and deception,” he said.
“Just in December 2015, the same chief of army staff claimed there was a traffic jam in Zaria and the big man wanted to move.
“And because of that traffic, he got soldiers from the first division in Kaduna to mow down hundreds of Shi’ites. And what was the explanation? That the Shi’ites wanted to assassinate the chief of army staff, and so his boys had to save him and in the process, they repelled these Shi’ites who had guns and about six or seven people died.
“But in a commission of enquiry set up by the Kaduna state government, we were told that indeed, 347 Nigerians were killed by the military; no autopsy, no postmortem, nothing whatsoever.
“Their bodies were taken away in the dead of the night and given a mass burial. And people will ask you, ‘if anybody lost his child in Lekki, why can’t they come up?’ Who has come up in the case of Zaria? Because you must understand the environment under which we operate.”
The human rights lawyer also said some of those injured in the Lekki shooting “had to forcefully discharge themselves.”
According to him, the injured protesters were told in a hospital that they were going to be held liable for the riots in town, “and so, everybody had to move.”