A medical doctor with the Grandville Medical Center in Lagos, Dr Aromolafe Ayobami, has testified before the The Lagos State judicial panel on the October 20, 2020 shooting incident at the Lekki tollgate and the restitution for victims of SARS-related abuses, saying his hospital treated a total number of 15 patients referred from other hospitals with injuries ranging from gunshots to superficial wounds.
”I am here to give evidence of our hospital encounter during the EndSARS protest period. We had a total number of 15 patients. We had four referrals from Vedic life Healthcare, seven referrals from Reddington hospial.
Mr Nicholas Okpe, a 43 year old man, who had gunshot injury to the chest. A chest tube was passed. Chest tubes are drains that were passed into the lungs to allow for air and blood to come out. Then he was later on transferred to LASUTH for further care.”
The doctor confirmed there were no casualties in his hospital claiming all patient were successfully treated and discharged.
The military who arrived at the scene later at night was accused of shooting at protesters, an allegation it continued to deny.The military says it only fired blank bullets.
However, an on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International found that the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters on Oct. 20 at two locations in Lagos. The rights group says the killings took place at Alausa and Lekki, both suburbs of Lagos.
How did #endSARS started?
Nationwide protests against police brutality began on Oct. 8, after a video emerged in early October showing police officers thought to be from the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or (SARS allegedly shooting and killing a young man in Nigeria’s southern Delta State. Although Nigerian authorities denied the reports, protests erupted across the country calling to disband the unit on Twitter with #endSARS.
The #endSARS hashtag dates back to at least 2017, when it was used to share experiences of assault and violence. SARS was formed in 1984 to combat an increase in armed robbery and crime but has been widely accused of unlawful arrests and other abuses. Amnesty International reported at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial execution between January 2017 and May 2020. Despite promises of reform, Amnesty says SARS officers still act with impunity.
What happened at Lekki tollgate on Oct. 20?
Several videos circulating on social media showed crowds gathering at the Lekki toll gate in one of the suburbs of Lagos, where #endSARS protesters have been camped for two weeks. Witnesses told the BBC that uniformed men opened fire, and soldiers were seen barricading the protest site before the shooting, and Amnesty International received reports that shortly before the shootings, CCTV cameras at the Lekki toll gate were removed by government officials and the electricity was cut in an attempt to hide evidence. Video footage showed protesters singing the national anthem in the darkness, the noise gunfire as people ran away from the scene, and protesters tending to the injured at the scene. According to Amnesty International, at least 56 people have died across the country since the protests began, with about 38 killed in one day.
The government continued to deny reports of killings at the Lekki tollgate, insisting soldiers only fired rubber bullets to disperse protests.