Lekki Shooting: Nigerian Army Changes Position, Says Soldiers Had Both Live And Blank Ammunition
Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos State, has revealed that soldiers deployed to Lekki toll gate on October 20, had both live and blank ammunition in their possession.
The General stated this on Saturday at the resumed proceedings of Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged killing of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate by soldiers.
It would be recalled that Former Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman in an interview few weeks ago said blank ammunition were used to disperse protesters and it had “little or no effect on its target”.
If you look at the canisters, they were blank ammo and blank ammo don’t even kill. At a close range, l – maybe 100-metres – maybe it will have some pigmentation on your skin.
Remember the military are armed and by the nature of their training, they are trained to kill and I think the military in its wisdom instead of using live ammunition decided to use blank armour which is meant for training.
I think they should be commended for that otherwise there would have been serious collateral damage, but they were professional enough to have done that.
Usman said this in reaction to eyewitnesses’ reports that many #EndSARS protesters were shot dead while several others sustained varying degrees of injury from bullet.
However, speaking about the ammunition used during the operation at the tollgate, Taiwo confirmed that both live and blank bulletins were with soldiers on the night of the shooting.
The General said a portion of the troops that operated at the tollgate on that night were indeed armed with live bullets.
He, however, maintained that only soldiers with blank bullets fired shots into the air.
Taiwo, who had earlier made a presentation before the panel in defence of the Nigerian Army on November 14, returned on Saturday for cross-examination by two counsel for #EndSARS protesters, Messrs Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN) and Mr Adesina Ogunlana.
When Olumide-Fusika asked Taiwo if soldiers who went to the toll gate carried guns, he expressed;
When you are talking of guns, you are talking about high-calibre guns. They were carrying rifles; not guns.
However, Olumide-Fusika told him that a visit to the tollgate after the shooting incidents showed marks or indentations suggestive of gunshots.
Responding, the General said;
Definitely, a portion of the Force will carry live bullets, in case they are attacked. But the soldiers that formed the firing team, who fired, used blank bullets. And that is why you watched the video and saw exactly what happened.
The soldiers they were both given both live and blank bullets. In this particular case, we saw that these protests had been infiltrated by some hoodlums.
You had peaceful protesters no doubt. But there were also hoodlums who sought to take advantage. That is why they were armed (with) blank bullets in addition to the live (bullets) they were carrying.
Brig. General Taiwo stressed;
We had men and materials – vehicles and rifles for shooting. A portion of the force were carrying live bullets in case they are attacked. Another portion will carry magazines charged with blank ammunition.
The statement of the Army official therefore negates its previous stance but confirms widespread reports by eyewitnesses.