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#EndSARS: 'I cannot tell the army what to do' – Sanwo-Olu on Lekki shooting

“I didn’t have control; I don’t control the police and army..."

Lekki tollgate protesters (By Eiseke Bolaji)

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State reaffirmed on Wednesday, March 08, 2023, that he did not issue the order for the infamous Lekki shooting in October 2020.

Throwback to October 2020: At approximately 6:50 p.m. on the evening of October 20, 2020, members of the Nigerian Army opened fire on unarmed protesters participating in the EndSARS movement at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos State. The gruesome incident resulted in the death of at least 12 (confirmed) innocent civilians, while many others suffered severe injuries.

How Sanwo-Olu got dragged in: During the November 2020 hearing of the Lagos Judicial Panel, Brigadier-General Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo of 81 Division Intelligence Brigade made an allegation that Governor Sanwo-Olu requested military support on October 20, following the escalation of the #EndSARS crisis.

What Sanwo-Olu said: But speaking in an interview on Arise Television, Governor Sanwo-Olu said he does not control either the police or the Nigerian Army.

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He said: Young people, please don’t put things in your head that this is the only way and that’s what has happened. No. just for one second, drop it and play it back.

“It wasn’t a flash incident. It was an incident that has piled up for three weeks.

“I didn’t have control; I don’t control the police and army. We have been on the conversation. Just to create state police, we have been on it for four years.

“I went to all the hospitals; I went out at 12 midnight that day, and I saw things for myself, and I reported what I saw 8 o clock the following morning (October 21, 2020). At 10 o'clock, things could have changed, but I reported what I saw, and I would not deny what I didn’t see to what people want me to say.

“And I want to speak to the youths, and say that indeed, I am a father, I’m a leader, I’m a man that truly understands the pain that parents bear. The challenge that you have as a young person, I have been in the situation. At 25, I had a small company that crashed at 26. I’ve lost money before, I understand what it is for a young person to be out there, sweating yourself out and not being able to meet up. So, I would be the least person that would mess them (the youths) up.”

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What Sanwo-Olu did post-EndSARS: In the aftermath of the tragic event, Governor Sanwo-Olu established a trust fund with a sum of ₦200 million to provide compensation for victims of the shooting. Furthermore, he instituted a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate the matter.

What you should know: The operational head of the Nigerian Armed Forces is the Chief of the Defence Staff, who is subordinate to the Nigerian Defence Minister. The National Defence Council has been in existence since 1979 and advises the President on matters relating to the armed forces.

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