The Nigerian Army, Saturday, recounted its side of the story that led to the shooting of peaceful protesters during the #EndSARS campaign, including the role it played at restoring normalcy during the curfew which was imposed by the Lagos State Government.
Brigadier General Ibrahim Ahmed Taiwo, Commander of the 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, during his testimony before the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry investigating the #LekkiShooting and cases of police brutality, disclosed that they were invited to restore order because Lagos had descended into a state of chaos.
On the #LekkiShooting, he told the panel that members of the Nigerian Army deployed to the Lekki Toll Plaza had fired into the air with blank ammunition to disperse the protesters.
“When the military got to the tollgate, the police were already trying to deter the people who want to burn the Oriental Hotel. The commander on the ground met the real EndSARS protesters on one side and the hoodlums at the other side.
“The protesters started pestering the soldiers, throwing stones and bottles. The soldiers used blank ammunition to disperse the protesters. The genuine protesters sat on the floor. I was monitoring internet that night, after the soldiers have left, the hoodlums went back and burnt the toll gate.”
The General further disclosed that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had put a call through to the Chief of Army Staff to intervene and restore order to the state as hoodlums had hijacked the protest and unleashed mayhem across the state; subsequently, the 81 division of the Nigeria Army was ordered to launch phase four of Internal Security Operation before 4:00 pm on October 20, 2020, across the state.
“After some observation, the timing was shifted, it was not communicated to the Nigeria Army. Be that as it may, the Army was deployed immediately to forestall further violence and loss of life. This deployment, contrary to what was out there, was done throughout Lagos State in anticipation of phase four of internal security.” He added that the rules of engagement of internal security were strictly adhered to.
The General also touched on the role the Nigerian Army played during the state-wide curfew, describing how the Lagos Monarch and his family were ferried to safety by the Army. He also displayed a video of how hoodlums had laid siege on the Oba’s palace.
Taiwo also spoke of how businesses and offices were looted and vandalised by the hoodlums, and how the Nigerian Army’s intervention prevented them from invading the Government House.
“They attempted to break into the Ikoyi Prison and it was repelled. The 81 Division had to support the Correctional Services and the Police. They also burnt down the Igbosere High Court. The inmates had burnt part of the Ikoyi Prison, they all did this at the same time because they had gotten information about what was happening on the outside.
General Taiwo narrated how the Managing Director of Spar called him, pleading that the Nigerian Army should intervene on his behalf and restrain the hoodlums from burning the mall. He also added that the Army evacuated about N2 billion from banks in the Lekki area while the hoodlums were on a rampage.
Speaking on the widely reported attempts on Catherine Udeh’s life, popularly known as DJ Switch, the General denied that the Nigerian Army was looking for her or even threatened her life.
He said, “Some people take delight in misrepresenting Nigeria and particularly the Nigerian Army to the international community and our fellow Nigerians. This, I believe is done for pecuniary gains.
“Quite recently, a Nigerian, Catherine Udeh, also known as DJ Switch, claimed the Nigerian Army was looking for her. There is nothing further than the truth.
“My Lord, we have bigger fish to fry.”
DJ Switch had streamed the Lekki shooting on her Instagram live where she disclosed that a number of protesters were shot dead while some dead bodies were carted away by the Nigerian Army; shortly after which she reported threats to her life.