Lai Mohammed calls judicial panel report of Lekki massacre 'tales by moonlight'

Mohammed says the panel's allegations against security forces are fake.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [BBC via Getty Images]

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has, unsurprisingly, dismissed the report of a judicial panel that investigated the shooting of peaceful protesters in Lagos last year.

Security forces attacked the protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on October 20, 2020 in an aggressive attempt to dismantle the symbolic stronghold of historic demonstrations against police brutality.

Eyewitnesses reported numerous fatalities from the night, but the government, led by Mohammed, has run an aggressive counter-campaign insisting no one was killed by security agents.

A judicial panel of inquiry set up days after the shooting finally submitted its report on November 15, 2021, confirming the claims of eyewitnesses that a massacre happened.

The panel established that at least nine protesters were killed, with four others missing presumed dead.

Dozens of others were similarly injured, first by the soldiers, and later by police officers who also tried to cover up their involvement.

Mohammed described the report as fake news at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, November 23, suggesting that the panel compiled 'tales by moonlight' engineered on social media.

The minister noted that the report, which was leaked to the public, was filled with discrepancies that invalidate its authenticity.

He also repeated claims that the incident was a 'phantom massacre', and the panel's conclusions not backed by verifiable facts.

"There is absolutely nothing in the report that is circulating to make us change our stand that there was no massacre at Lekki on October 20, 2020.

"For us to change our stand, a well-investigated report of the incident that meets all required standards and will withstand every scrutiny must be produced and presented to the public," he said.

Mohammed further attacked those praising the panel report as a 'rampaging lynch mob' trying to intimidate 'a silent majority'.

He also noted that the report is of no force until the convening authority issues a white paper and gazette on it.

"It is therefore too premature for any person or entity to seek to castigate the Federal Government and its agencies or officials based on such an unofficial and unvalidated report," he said.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has set up a four-member panel to review the judicial panel's report and raise a white paper within two weeks.

The panel is headed by the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), with members listed as Commissioner for Youths and Social Development, Segun Dawodu; Special Adviser, Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye; and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Tolani Oshodi.

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