Weeks after the shooting of peaceful demonstrators in Lagos, the Nigerian Army has admitted that President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as Commander-In-Chief authorised the deployment of soldiers to maintain law and order at the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos.
At least 10 protesters were killed in the Lekki plaza shooting og October 20, according to Amnesty International.
The army had maintained that its troops were not at the site but later said soldiers were sent to enforce a curfew.
Appearing before the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Saturday, Ahmed Taiwo, a Brigadier-General of the Nigerian Army, said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu could only have made a request but only the President and Commander-In-Chief can authorise the deployment of soldiers.
Taiwo claimed that the events that culminated in the incident of October 20 at the Lekki Toll Gate had its remote causes in the wider #EndSARS protest and its immediate causes in the lawlessness that ensued from October 18.
He explained that the attack made the governor to call on the army to interfere in the crisis and due to the urgency of the situation, Sanwo-Olu imposed a 24-hour curfew, which was to commence at 4:00pm on October 20 but was later shifted to 9:00pm.
Taiwo said, “Due to the urgency of the security situation in the state, the governor declared a 24-hour curfew which was supposed to start at 4:00pm. They wanted everyone off the streets to deal with the hoodlums, but after some observations, the timing was shifted to 21:00 hours, but this timing was not communicated to the Nigerian Army.
“Be that as it may, we the Nigerian Army had already immediately deployed the 65 Battalion under the 81 Division Garrison to forestal all further violence and loss of lives. It is important to note that this deployment of troops contrary to reports, was done throughout Lagos to activate Phase 4 of the Internal Security Operations.”