The forensic firm, Sentinel Forensic Limited, engaged by the Lagos State government to conduct a crime scene investigation of the alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza on October 20, 2020 yesterday disclosed that the live ammunition presented by the Nigerian Army is of the same calibre as the cartridge casing recovered by the Judicial Panel.
Head of the team from Sentinel Forensics Limited, Joseph Kayode Funsho, stated this while presenting their report before the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of the Special Anit-robbery Squad, Related Abuses and other matters.
Testifying before the panel presided over by Justice Doris Okuwobi, Funso affirmed that the blank ammunition submitted by the Nigerian Army is not of the same calibre as the cartridge casings submitted by the Judicial Panel.
The report tendered by the forensic expert in hard copy and flash contains evidence of what was given to it by the panel through its recovery of bullet casings found at the Lekki Toll Plaza and what was submitted by the Nigeria Army to the panel.
The evidence submitted by the Nigerian army include four ammunition, one 7.62 by 39 mm which was fired and another unexpended, as well as one 7.62 by 51mm unexpended round and another expended blank cartridge case
Lagos State government had in obedience to the National Economic Council (NEC) directive and in line with one of the 5 for 5 demands of #EndSARS protesters that all states of the federation should set up a judicial panel of inquiry into SARS abuses and compensation for victims established its own judicial panel of inquiry into SARS abuses.
The Lagos State judicial panel of inquiry on restitution for victims of SARS related abuses and other matters which was inaugurated by the Lagos state governor on October 19, 2020 comprises nine members from various strata of the society and is headed by a retired judge of impeccable character and integrity.
The terms of reference of the panel are essentially “to listen to and take evidence from all victims or the families of victims of SARS abuse within Lagos State (somewhat akin to what the Truth and Reconciliation Committee did in some countries). This would enable all victims and their families to air and vent their grievances in public.
“To listen to and take evidence from all victims or the families of victims of SARS abuse within Lagos State (somewhat akin to what the Truth and Reconciliation Committee did in some countries). This would enable all victims and their families to air and vent their grievances in public.
“The Judicial Panel after listening to victims or their families would then determine whether any victim or the dependents of such victims are entitled to compensation and the amount of compensation payable.”
The governor said upon determining the compensation payable, the judicial panel is to immediately issue a cheque in favour of the victim or their dependents.
The Judicial Panel is also to determine the officers (or anyone for that matter) responsible for abusing any victim and to recommend the prosecution of such persons.
As the panel commenced sitting, the Nigerian Army despite contrary evidence had continually denied that its officials shot at protesters in Lekki Toll Gate Plaza.
The forensic expert had earlier told the panel that it was also engaged to review material footage from LCC as well as any other evidence recovered from the scene by panel members and give detailed expert opinions.
The witness also revealed in his presentation that the authenticity of the video evidence tendered by the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) couldn’t be determined because they didn’t have access to the servers from which the source recording was made.
The witness who came from Kaduna State also stated that the team was unable to determine the method of extraction used for the CCTV system information from the recording device.
Funsho further informed the panel that there was no hash value from the source device to be used for comparison after the forensic imaging and hash value were created from the digital evidence tendered by the LCC.
But the witness pointed out that an extensive visual examination of the video evidence didn’t show any signs of being doctored as to time frame and pixel, suggesting its integrity.
He stated that a thorough examination of the surrounding area and edifice of the admiralty plaza also reportedly showed extensive vandalism and arson.
Funsho said there was no apparent sign of damage due to the discharge of live ammunition around the area.
The panel had adjourned further hearing in the matter till today to enable lawyers representing all the parties in the proceedings to obtain the report, study the same and cross-examine the witness.
Troops On Crowd Control Fired Blank Rounds, Military Insists
But the military yesterday insisted that troops only fired blank ammunition contrary to the forensic report.
The director, Defence Information (DDI) at the Defence headquarters, Major General Benjamin Sawyerr, queried the report, just as he demanded to know the military formations the said expert went to match the ammunition to come up with the conclusion that the shells matched that of the Nigerian Army.
“Who are the forensic experts? Where did they go to match the empty shells with the ammunition we have?” He queried
The DDI noted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria don’t issue live rounds to its personnel to go and quell a riot
He continued: “There is what we call blank ammo and live round. The Army did not deny firing. The Army said they fired blank rounds. I’ve spent 35 years in the Army and there is nowhere they gave us live rounds to go and quell a riot.
“The people that gathered at Lekki toll gate could have been my relatives. There is no where I could have fired a live round. It is training under crowd control. Nobody can just go and start firing.
“Have they brought dead bodies to the panel? If they say we fired at them, where are the dead bodies?”