Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has assured Nigerians that the state will get justice for victims of the shootings in Lekki, an upmarket suburb in Nigeria’s largest city and economic capital of Lagos.
On October 20, 2020, armed soldiers arrived at the Lekki toll gate shortly before nightfall, turned off the lights and security cameras; and opened live rounds on thousands of demonstrators who had been protesting against police brutality and extra-judicial killings for two weeks.
Various reports say 10 people hit by bullets died on the night, with many more left badly injured and hospitalised.
President Muhammadu Buhari who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, hasn’t issued a word in anger since the shootings, and no government official has claimed responsibility for what has been described as a massacre in certain circles.
“My heart goes out to all the victims of the Lekki shootings, and also the policemen and all other men and women who lost their lives in the past few days in different parts of Lagos and other states,” Osinbajo said.
“I spoke to some of those in hospital. The pain of these terrible events is palpable in our towns and cities, and some losses are irreplaceable, but we can and will get justice for all of them. I stand with Lagos and all other affected states in these trying times.
“We pray we will never see a repeat of these tragedies in Jesus name. God bless you all,” the vice president added.
On October 16, as the protests picked up pace across the country, with violence erupting in most cities, Osinbajo tendered an apology for police brutality. “Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry,” he said.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says he’s investigating the army’s rules of engagement on the night, stating that the forces who opened fire on unarmed protesters acted beyond his control.
“There are no excuses for the unfortunate incident that took place last night, and as the Governor, I apologize for every action and inaction.
“I would like you to know that I am for you, I am with you, and I understand that indeed you’re not happy with the turn of events last night.
“For clarity, it is imperative to explain that no governor controls the rules of engagement of the army. I have nevertheless instructed an investigation into the orders and the adopted rules of engagement employed by the men of the Nigerian Army deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The shootings escalated a tense situation in Lagos and elsewhere, with miscreants taking advantage of the break down in law and order to burn government buildings and property across the city all through Wednesday, October 21.
Dozens of cars have also been burnt and shops looted in the mayhem that ensued.