The Nigerian Army has insisted that soldiers did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos State. The Army also said that their presence was requested by the Lagos State Government to restore normalcy.
The disclosure that soldiers were drafted at the invitation of the Lagos State Government at least settles the apparent mystery which had surrounded the question of who called in the troops.
The Acting Deputy Director, 81 Division, Army Public Relations, Osoba Olaniyi in a statement on Tuesday, described reports of a massacre by the officers as “untrue, unfounded, and aimed at causing anarchy in the country”.
In the statement, the Army said: “The attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilian protesters were massacred by soldiers at Lekki Toll Plaza.
“This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country. At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian.
“From the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos were involved. However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government (LASG) after a 24 hours curfew was imposed.
“This was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.
“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy. The intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for Internal Security operations and all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Internal Security operations,” the statement read.
The Army also stated that they did not shoot any civilian and that there is convincing evidence to attest to this claim. They maintained that the allegations of shootings were the “hand work of mischief makers who will stop at nothing to tarnish the image of the Nigerian Army.”