Although the Lagos government will ensure the fatal shooting of peaceful protesters in Lekki is investigated, only the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces can ensure soldiers found culpable are punished, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said Monday.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, during an interview on CNN, also said he had reviewed the CCTV footage and was sure men in military uniform fired shots at the peaceful protesters on October 20.
He said the CCTV footage will be made available to a judicial panel he set up to investigate the incident.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the Lekki toll gate shooting which has been condemned by many Nigerians and the international community including the U.S. government.
At least two people have been confirmed dead from the shooting with witnesses saying over a dozen people were killed.
The Nigerian Army is yet to admit that its officers fired at the unarmed protesters.
Speaking on Monday, Mr Sanwo-Olu said “from the footage that we could see, because there are cameras at that facility, it seems to be that they would be men in military uniform who should be Nigerian army or something.”
The state governor said there will be an investigation into the Lekki shooting and he hopes anyone found culpable will be held accountable.
“We will be committed to a full investigation of what happened and people would be held accountable. They certainly would be held accountable. We would do everything possible to ensure that they are held accountable,” he said.
Only Buhari Can Ensure Punishment
When asked by the CNN journalist whether soldiers found culpable will be held accountable, Mr Sanwo-Olu said he was not the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“I am not the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, I am governor of a state,” he said. “The report would be out and we would channel the report to all the relevant authorities in the state to ensure that every one that is found culpable is accountable for the act.”
President Muhammadu Buhari is the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces to whom the military reports. The president has been criticised for failing to condemn the shooting of unarmed protesters in Lekki and other places. His office has, however, said the president is awaiting an investigation of the Lekki incident before reacting.
Mr Sanwo-Olu’s reference to lacking the power to discipline erring soldiers also has a precedent. In 2015, soldiers shot at members of the Shiite group, IMN, in Kaduna, killing over 300 of them, including women and children. The Shiites were accused of blocking a road being used by the army chief, Tukur Buratai.
A panel of enquiry set up by the Kaduna State Government confirmed that the soldiers handed over the bodies of 347 Shiites they killed to the Kaduna government who buried them in mass graves.
No soldier has been punished for the Kaduna mass murder despite the report.
Lagos Panel Commences Sitting
Meanwhile, the judicial panel set up by the Lagos State Government will commence sitting today, Tuesday. It will look into all cases of police brutality, including the Lekki shooting.
Speaking on the panel, Mr Sanwo-Olu said people who have claimed that their friends and family members were killed in the Lekki incident should bring their case to the panel. He said the judicial panel of enquiry will investigate the cases and make restitution where possible.
The panel, led by a retired justice, Doris Okuwobi, will be sitting at the Lagos Court of Arbitration, Lekki.