Lekki shootings: Buratai ordered deployment of trainee soldiers, general tells panel

The Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, said on Saturday that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, ordered the deployment of soldiers undergoing training at military schools for the Lekki exercise due to the shortage of troops.

This was part of the revelations at the ongoing Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged shooting of unarmed #EndSARS protesters by soldiers on the night of October 20 at the Lekki tollgate. The soldiers were deployed to enforce the curfew imposed on the state by the governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

When he appeared to testify before the panel, Taiwo said because “the 81 Division was short of troops, the Chief of Army Staff gave an extraordinary order that all Army schools should be shut down and everybody should be brought to the operation.”

He said incidentally he had only a day before, as an examiner of the Nigerian Army Intelligence, taught the trainee soldiers about internal security techniques, adding that he pointed out to them on the operation day how it was unbelievable that only a day after learning the rules, they were going for an operation in internal security.

…says army unhappy Sanwo-Olu denied inviting soldiers

Taiwo added that the Nigerian Army was unhappy that the governor denied inviting the army, adding that it was also unhappy that the governor said two persons died from the military operation at the tollgate.

The general, who made a power-point presentation and showed video footages before the panel, described the #EndSARS protest, particularly from October 18 as “nothing but violence and lawlessness,” stressing that the protest plunged the state into a state of anarchy.

He said he believed that inviting the army was the best decision the governor could have taken given the burning of police stations and looting of firearms and ammunition; killing of policemen, blockage of roads and extortion of money from innocent citizens by hoodlums, who, he said, hijacked the #EndSARS protest.

Taiwo said since the police had been overrun, the intervention of the army was justified, but he said the Army frowned upon Sanwo-Olu’s denial of calling on them.

While showing the panel the footage of a scene where a mob killed someone, set the body ablaze and hoodlums talking about sharing body parts, he said the anarchy was reminiscent of the Liberian civil war.

The Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, said on Saturday that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai ordered the deployment of soldiers undergoing training at military schools for the Lekki exercise due to the shortage of troops.

This was part of the revelations at the ongoing Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged shooting of unarmed #EndSARS protesters by soldiers on the night of October 20 at the Lekki tollgate. The soldiers were deployed to enforce the curfew imposed on the state by the governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

When he appeared to testify before the panel, Taiwo said because “the 81 Division was short of troops, the Chief of Army Staff gave an extraordinary order that all Army schools should be shut down and everybody should be brought to the operation.”

He said incidentally he had only a day before, as an examiner of the Nigerian Army Intelligence, taught the trainee soldiers about internal security techniques, adding that he pointed out to them on the operation day how it was unbelievable that only a day after learning the rules, they were going for an operation in internal security.

…says army unhappy Sanwo-Olu denied inviting soldiers

Taiwo added that the Nigerian Army was unhappy that the governor denied inviting the army, adding that it was also unhappy that the governor said two persons died from the military operation at the tollgate.

The general, who made a power-point presentation and showed video footages before the panel, described the #EndSARS protest, particularly from October 18 as “nothing but violence and lawlessness,” stressing that the protest plunged the state into a state of anarchy.

He said he believed that inviting the army was the best decision the governor could have taken given the burning of police stations and looting of firearms and ammunition; killing of policemen, blockage of roads and extortion of money from innocent citizens by hoodlums, who, he said, hijacked the #EndSARS protest.

Taiwo said since the police had been overrun, the intervention of the army was justified, but he said the Army frowned upon Sanwo-Olu’s denial of calling on them.

While showing the panel the footage of a scene where a mob killed someone, set the body ablaze and hoodlums talking about sharing body parts, he said the anarchy was reminiscent of the Liberian civil war.

when hoodlums invaded his palace.

He said, “Both the Oba and his family were ferried to safety by the Nigerian Army,” Taiwo said as he played a video recording of the monarch and his family being rescued and taken into a military pickup truck.

“The business district areas were looted and offices were ransacked and destroyed. The hoodlums attempted to invade the Government House, but it was repelled.”

Lagos lawyer cross-examines general

Shortly after the Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo, testified before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry, he was cross-examined by the counsel to the Lagos State Government, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko(SAN). Below is the excerpts.

Owonikoko: Who made that call? Is it a military decision or decision of the governor of the state? Who made the call that ‘we were now at Phase 4, guys move?’ The decision of the governor is to say this thing is out of our hand; the police are overwhelmed; the threat is real and we need additional force. It is a request; he made a request. Is that not so?

General Taiwo: Yes

Owonikoko: Mr President makes the decision whether that request, as at that time, was warranted. Is that not so? You have confirmed here that the governor tried to get the President and the Chief of Army Staff.

General Taiwo: I didn’t say, Mr President. I know he (the governor) spoke to the Chief of Staff to Mr President, he spoke to the Chief of Army Staff and the GOC, 81 Division. Also before then, he had spoken to the Commander, 9 Brigade but the commander does not have the power to deploy troops in that manner.

Owonikoko: I am very happy with what you said. Now, with all these calls, Mr Governor has no …. power to who…whether his request made sense or not. Am I right sir?

General Taiwo: I don’t know….

Owoniko: Please General, let’s not dabble into politics and constitutionalism. You know I asked you before that when the President made an order in terms of security in the state, the governor has no right to veto it. He must comply. What I am saying is that the request to deploy armed forces by a governor is just what it is – a request. The decision whether that will be done is left to the Commander in Chief and his team of security officers. That is simple; it’s obvious.

General Taiwo: What you are saying is that when the governor called for intervention, we should ….. pack off.

Owonikoko: No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying that he has to do that because he has no right of command over the forces so he went to the higher authorities and said, ‘look this is where we are, we need it.’ Then the authorities made an informed judgment based on facilities and intelligence…..So what I am trying to find out from you, sir is that if Mr President considered that it was unnecessary for the military to be deployed that day, would the governor be in a position to direct you to go out?

source PUNCH.NIG

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