A former Military Governor of old Western Region, Major General David Jemibewon (retd.) has tasked the military authorities over the indictment of the Nigerian Army in the EndSARS Lekki Toll gate killings,just as some retired generals have called for a deep scrutiny by the Lagos judicial panel investigating allegations of police brutality levelled against SARS personnel and the Lekki tollgate incident, given evidence on account of a report by the Cable News Network.
The generals noted that if necessary, the panel should invite the military and other parties to speak on the new evidence.
The CNN report revealed that expended Serbian ammunition, allegedly fired by the soldiers, were picked from the scene of the incident.
The report said, “CNN has examined bullet casings found at the scene and confirmed with current and former Nigerian military sources that the bullet casings match those used by the army. Two ballistics experts have also confirmed with CNN that the shape of the bullet casings indicate they used live rounds, which contradicts the army’s claim they fired blanks.
“And working with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, CNN has established that several of the bullets from the Lekki tollgate originated from Serbia. Export documents CNN has seen show that Nigeria purchased weaponry from Serbia almost every year between 2005 and 2016.”
One of the generals, a former Provost Marshal of the Army, Brig Gen Idada Ikponwmen (retd.), said the panel should be thorough in its investigation based on the facts and the law.
Ikponwmen said, “I think the original scope of the panel still covers whatever evidence we are getting. I don’t think there is a need for a new panel. There should be evidence before the panel. Those who are saying that they found this and that should be able to establish them before the panel.
“The panel is empowered to invite anybody, based on whatever new evidence, to clear the air. The panel is not just to look at facts alone; they should also look at the evidence in view of the law; how do you engage the military in a law enforcement role; what does the constitution say?
“We are already aware of the inconsistent statements or positions from the various parties; the governor, the army and all that. The panel should be able to look into all those things. It is not just about the bullets on the ground; how did they get there? The panel should be able to ascertain the facts and the relevant laws and see whether everyone acted properly or there were shortcomings.”
Also, a former Military Governor of old Western Region, Major General David Jemibewon (retd.), said the soldiers deployed in the Lekki tollgate area that night should be made to account for every bullet given to them, in line with military ethics.
He added, “It depends on the experience and knowledge of those who constitute the panel. It is very important. Of course, whosoever makes an allegation must have evidence to support the allegations he made. So, normally as those things, if soldiers were called to a situation like that, they should also collect the empty shells of whatever ammunition they expended.
“What I would advise is that proper investigation must be conducted. If you allege that someone was killed, it is either they show the dead body or show empty shells, being the expended part of the ammunition. This is because they would use as evidence that certainly these bullets were fired.
“We should know how many soldiers were sent out and how many rounds of ammunition they had with them. This is because each soldier would be given a certain number of rounds of ammunition and when they come back, they must account for every ammunition. If they gave you five rounds and you say you have fired one round, you must return four rounds.
“I wouldn’t know whether they still follow that, or whether the members of the panel really understand this. This is what we were taught when I was still there (in the military).”
Also, Major General Obi Umahi (retd.), said, “It is as straightforward as that it is; just to confirm or investigate whether any of the services has ever brought in bullets made in Serbia; whether any of the weapons includes armaments from Serbia. That could just be a quick lead. So, you can’t say it is this service or that service until after the report establishes that.
*Additional report from The Punch