The APC chieftain, Bola Tinubu, has raised questions regarding the character and presence of “those who suffered casualty” following the shooting by Nigerian soldiers at Lekki, Lagos State, on Tuesday.
Witnesses say soldiers opened gunfire on unarmed protesters at Lekki toll gate, one of the key #EndSARS protest sites in Lagos, on Tuesday, but the casualty level remains uncertain.
Following the shooting, the Nigerian government got ensnared in increased international attention as the U.S. government, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, and the European Union raised concerns about the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters by the military. The military has not taken responsibility for the gunfire but the Lagos State Government has announced a probe.
The shooting served as an immediate trigger for unprecedented mob attacks on public asset, private businesses, and media houses in Lagos on Wednesday, and helped motivate anarchic violence in other states, where hoodlums have looted and razed property.
Television Continental, Max FM and The Nation newspapers believed to be owned by Mr Tinubu, were razed by mobs on Wednesday in Lagos. Several police stations, public buses were set ablaze and businesses were looted.
Speaking when he visited the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Saturday, Mr Tinubu said the victims of the Lekki shooting had questions to answer.
“Those that had suffered casualties during the gunshot need to answer some questions too,” said Mr Tinubu. “How were they there? How long were they there? What kind of characters were they? Even if we want to help, we must extract information that will help the government to prepare in future or understand when and where to react.”
Mr. Tinubu, who called Mr Sanwolu-olu, who is 55-year old, “a youth” was responding to a journalist’s question on state support for victims. He said, “we had to segregate the calendar” and said “those who suffered casualty before the protests” will be accommodated by the judicial panel announced by the state.
“Who ordered the attack?”
Mr Tinubu said he had visited Mr Sanwo-Olu to work through the puzzling controversy over the shooting.
“Did he order the attack? Or if he didn’t order the attack? Who ordered the attack? Was it to his knowledge that people were attacked? That is what I needed from him,” said Mr Tinubu, revealing the questions he said he had gone to ask the governor.
In the wake of the shooting, Mr Sanwo-Olu had said “forces beyond his control” ordered the shooting.
The Nigerian military has not taken responsibility for the Lekki shooting but its officers, who asked not to be named, said the incident has unsettled the army command chain. A commander at the 65 Battalion, Bonny Camp in Lagos, was said to have led the shooting, but his source of authority to do so remains unclear.
“The officer at the centre of the shooting must be pressured to name who authorised him,” said one army insider.
“The Army has no business being there except after officially being called by the civil authorities when there is clear evidence of gunmen in the crowd with casualties on Police and Police have stated to civil authorities that they have been overpowered…..that is the procedure and training and it’s clearly stated in the Army Manual and Armed Forces Act.
“The Army is never the first responder in a crowd dispersal situation. The Army is the last after the police must have been overwhelmed by the crowd through the use of firearms and other dangerous weapons.
“And there is a procedure for coming in aid. It must be to the knowledge of the governor and authorised by the commander-in-chief. Rogue elements seem to have taken over command positions in the army thus the high level of unprofessional conduct..”
“I am still the Asiwaju of Lagos”
Mr Tinubu and his son, Seyi, were rumoured to have left Nigeria in the wake of the shooting.
Speaking on Saturday, he said, “I didn’t go nowhere.” He added, laughing: “I am a Lagosian. I still hold the title of Asiwaju of Lagos and I am still a Jagaban. Whatever they think, fake news is all over the place. They say Seyi my son was kidnapped. He is here.”
Mr Tinubu commended Mr Sanwo-olu’s leadership and said he had been “responsive” leader.