BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos
The Nigerian Army yesterday narrated to the Lagos State judicial panel of inquiry and restitution for victims of SARS related abuses and other matters that how it evacuated over N2billion for banks affected by violence and looting during the #EndSARS protests.
A representative of the Army, Brigadier-General Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo, stated while testifying before the eight-man panel presided over by Justice Doris Okuwobi.
Brigadier-General Taiwo, who is the Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, said the decision was the right one given the fact that the #EndSARS protest had degenerated into widespread violence all over the state.
He also stated that the Nigerian Army evacuated over N2billion for banks affected by violence and looting during the protests.
The army officer, who led the deployment of troops, noted that the governor had every reason to call on the military to help quell the violence that trailed the EndSARS protest as the police had been overwhelmed by hoodlums who hijacked the protests.
He also said troops were deployed in every part of Lagos State and not just in Lekki contrary to reports in the media.
He testified that widespread looting followed the protest and that he was most hurt to see even women leading their children to break into private business places to loot.
The military officer, however, maintained that the Nigerian Army was not happy that the governor denied seeking the intervention of the armed forces.
He told the panel that Governor Sanwo-Olu first asked the General Officer Commanding 9 Division in Lagos, Major General Etsu Ndagi, to intervene when the #EndSARS protest was hijacked in the morning of Tuesday, October 20.
He pointed out that because the GOC did not have the power to deploy troops, the governor was asked to reach out to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, who later approved the deployment of troops to quell the protest which had already spiraled into violence in many parts of Lagos.
He also expressed sadness over the claim made by Sanwo-Olu that two persons died from the military engagement at the Lekki tollgate.
Taiwo said, “I spoke with the governor and said the Army was unhappy that he said he did not ask for Army’s intervention but I am sure that after you watched everything (video footages), you saw he had more than enough grounds to ask for Army’s intervention; perhaps it was the way everything went.”
He alleged that on two occasions when the state government lifted the curfew, army authorities were not carried along.
He noted: “On two occasions when the curfew was lifted in Lagos, the army authority was not inform. If the curfew had remained in place, we would have been able to recover the looted items from Shoprite Lekki, Sango-Tedo and its environs
“The situation was so dire and they wanted everyone off the streets. If you like, sleep in your office; if you like, stay at home if you are near your house, but get off the streets and let us deal with the criminals and hooligans.
“After some observation, this timing was shifted to 2100 hours; that is 9pm. However, this timing was not communicated to the Nigerian Army. Be that as it may, the Nigerian army deployed immediately to forestall further violence and loss of lives.”
Brigadier-General Taiwo also denied that the Nigerian Army is looking for Celebrity Disk Jockey (DJ), Catherine Udeh, alias DJ Switch.
He insisted that the military had neither threatened nor was after any #EndSARS protester.