The 81st Division of the Nigerian Army said on Sunday that carrying live and blank ammunition is part of the rules of engagement of the Nigerian Army.
This is following the testimony of Ibrahim Taiwo, the Commander of 81 Division, at the Lagos Judicial Panel that the Nigerian Army went to Lekki toll gate on October 20 with both blank and live ammunition.
Osoba Olaniyi, the acting deputy director, 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, said in a statement that the army acted within internal security operations and are allowed to carry live ammunition.
Mr Olaniyi, said news that the Nigerian Army contradicted itself is untrue and propagated by “local and foreign agents of destabilisation who do not wish this country any good.”
PREMIUM TIMES reported the different testimonies of the Nigerian Army on the Lekki shooting incident.
The Nigerian Army at first said soldiers were not present at the Lekki Toll gate on the night of October 20, but thereafter admitted that soldiers were at the scene because they were “invited by the state governor to intervene in the crisis” in the state.
Mr Taiwo, the Commander of 81 Division and Head of Intelligence Corps of the Nigerian Army, earlier testified at the Lagos Judicial Panel sitting that soldiers did not fire at protesters but only “fired blank ammunition into the air to disperse the protesters.”
He emphasised that no one died or was injured in the incident and the report of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State governor on the number of fatalities was incorrect.
Meanwhile, during his cross-examination on Saturday, Mr Taiwo admitted that the soldiers were armed with both live and blank ammunition as part of their internal security process.
“We had the peaceful protesters, no doubt. But there were also the hoodlums who sought to take advantage, that is why they were armed with blank ammunition in addition to the live ammunition they were carrying,” he said.
Reacting to the revelation, the Nigerian Army urged Nigerians to guard against what it called local and foreign agents who want to destabilise the country.
“The attention of the Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to news items on both the social and mainstream media insinuating that the troops of Nigerian Army contradicted its evidence of firing blank ammunition when it also carried live ammunition for Internal Security Operations on the 20 October 2020.
“We hereby state unequivocally that carrying both blank and live ammunition is part of our Table of Equipment for Internal Security operations. It is part of the Rules of Engagement for soldiers on Internal Security operations to carry both live and blank ammunition. The use of any of these ammunitions as stated in our Rules of Engagement depends on the level of threat at the operational area,” the statement reads.
The army said in the circumstance of the Lekki toll gate, “the Commander on the ground assessed that there was no need to use live ammunition, that was why only blank ammunition was used at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“The blank ammunition was fired into the sky and not at the protesters. The results are all glaring as there was no fatality recorded – this has been corroborated by both BBC reports and other reputable news media outfits,” the army said.
Despite several evidence of people being injured and killed in the incident, the army said there was no such record.
“It is pertinent to reiterate that the Nigerian Army is a law-abiding institution that acts in tandem with her rules of engagement.
“We therefore wish to advise all stakeholders to guard against being used by local and foreign agents of destabilization who do not wish this country any good,” the army said.