The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday, has faulted the recently submitted report carried out by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of the Lekki Toll Gate shootings.
Mohammed, who also described the leaked report of the Lagos State panel as fake, stated this at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
The nine-member panel had in its leaked report alleged that at least nine persons were killed at the Lekki toll plaza when soldiers and policemen stormed the scene to disperse protesters on October 20, 2020.
However, Mohammed described the allegations as “tales by moonlight”.
“There’s absolutely nothing in the report that is circulating to make us change our minds that there was a massacre in Lekki on October 20, 2020,” Mr Mohammed said at a press briefing in Abuja on Monday.
The minister said it is incredible that a Judicial Panel set up to investigate an incident had submitted a report laden with allegations, “the same allegations it was set up to investigate in the first instance”.
He added that added that never in the history of any Judicial Panel in Nigeria had its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendoes, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence, as did the panel’s report.
He said, “What is circulating in public space is simply a rehash of the unverified fake news that has been playing on social media since the incident of Oct. 20th 2020.
“It is simply incredible that a Judicial Panel set up to investigate an incident has submitted a report laden with allegations. Instead of sitting for all of one year, the panel could have just compiled social media ‘tales by the moonlight’ on the incident and submitted, saving taxpayers’ funds and everyone’s time.
“That report is nothing but the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a vociferous lynch mob.”
He added that the report had thrown away the testimony of ballistic experts who testified before it, saying the experts testified that ”The Team finds that from the medical data examined, including the timeline of arrival at medical facility and the nature of the injuries sustained by the Victims, who were taken to the 5 medical facilities, that no military grade live ammunition (high-velocity) was fired at the protesters at Lekki Tollgate on 20th October 2020, within the timeframe of reference (18.30- 20.34hrs).”
He added, “It is clear, from the ongoing, that the report of the panel in circulation cannot be relied upon because its authenticity is in doubt. Besides, the Lagos State Government, being the convening authority, has yet to release any official report to the public.
“Neither has the panel done so. The cowardly leakage of an unsigned report to the public is not enough. Assuming the report in circulation bears any iota of genuineness, it is basic knowledge that the report of such a panel is of no force until the convening authority issues a White Paper and Gazette on it.
“It is therefore too premature for any person or entity to seek to castigate the Federal Government and its agencies or officials based on such an unofficial and unvalidated report.”