By Adebisi Onanuga
There was mild drama at the Ikoyi Military Hospital Mortuary in Lagos on Friday during an unscheduled visit by members of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of Special Ant- Robbery Squad (SARS) related abuses and other matters.
The visit was to enable the panel gather what one of its members, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), called information “relevant to our investigation” of the alleged Lekki Toll gate shooting.
The panel members led by Justice Doris Okuwobi (rtd) were initially refused entry by the soldiers on guard duty who said only their superior officers could order them to allow the visitors in.
The panelists and the journalists who accompanied them were later entry following the intervention of some senior officers of the 65 Battalion of the Nigerian Army.
They were taken round the newly renovated military facilities.
Other members of the panel on the visit included Rinu Oduala, Temitope Majekodunmi, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Director, Lagos State Directorate of Citizen’s Rights, Mrs Oluwatoyin Odusanya; a representative of the civil society groups Ms Patience Udoh, the Zonal Coordinator (South-West Zone) – National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Lucas Koyejo and Segun Awosanya (Segalink).
Adegboruwa said they were not just at Military hospital, on the authority of the governor of Lagos state, but also that of the president.
He said: “You’ll recall that it was the National Executive Council (NEC), that gave the directive that this panel should be set up, so we are only following due process and it’s good that we just inspect the mortuary we make our findings and go back to make our relevant conclusions”.
When asked what the panel would do if the military authorities had denied them access, the senior advocate said: “We would take up other options. There are other options, open to us. If we are not allowed access, we can’t force ourselves on them. If they don’t allow us access we would go back and take other options.”
Adegboruwa said their visit was prompted by confidential information that facilities at the Military hospital in Ikoyi, might be relevant to their investigation.
“We have confidential information that facilities at the Military Hospital in Ikoyi here may be relevant to our investigation, we have a pathologist with us and our interest is to inspect the Mortuary hospital, we don’t know what we would find there” he said.
“The visit to the Military hospital absolutely has something to do with the Lekki event of the 20th of October 2020. Like I said, we have no conclusion in our minds as to what we would find here. But we have intelligence to the extent that our work requires that we inspect the mortuary of the military hospital of here.
“As you have heard them say, this hospital is controlled by 65 Battalion and we have also taken steps to be able to reach the authorities of the 65 Battalions and the 82 Division on Kofo Abayomi, so we have options if we are not allowed access.”
When asked if it was not possible to inform the authorities ahead of time ion future, Adegboruwa said: “That would have defeated our purpose, we just got the information impromptu, we could not give them notice because of the importance of what we wanted to do; it is an investigation.If we give them notice ahead of time, that may jeopardise the essence of the investigation.
“We have no conclusion that there is anything amiss, it is intelligence that is leading us to investigation, so we really don’t have any evidence to say whether there is anything or not. Our own is verification through investigation.”
Five bullet shells recovered at Lekki toll gate
The panelists had earlier in the day visited the Lekki Toll Gate where they recovered five bullet shells.
The toll gate was the scene of the #EndSARSprotest which was allegedly invaded by soldiers on October 20.
Some of the shells were found inside drainage at the toll gate.
The Managing Director of Lekki Concession Company (LCC), the operators of Lekki Toll Gate, Abayomi Omomuwa, said during the visit that a camera installed on the mast worked until the alleged shooting.
However the LCC Managing Director who was invited to testify on the event of October 20 during which soldiers allegedly shot and killed the #ENDSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate, could not give his testimony due to absence of a legal representation.
The head of the Legal Department of LCC, Gbolahan Agboluwaje told the panel that they had no legal representation as they got the letter of invitation from the panel late on Wednesday.
He said: ” When we received the letter on Wednesday we discovered that three things were required, which are the footage, the investigation report and any other document. We have the footage, we have not done the investigation report and we don’t have other documents”.
Agboluwaje then asked for an adjournment to enable them get a legal representation.
“We would be happy if we are given time to get a legal representation, we got a very short notice”, he said.
He said that due to power outage, the recordings of the footage at the Lekki toll gate started late.
When asked by the Chairman of the panel Justice Doris Okuwobi if they had the footage, Agboluwaje said they had it and that they were prepared to show the footage.
Justice Okuwobi said: “Until he is represented by a counsel, we would not take his testimony. No person would be denied having any legal representation of his choice, but they should bear in mind that the terms of reference of this panel.”
Also on Friday, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), announced his appearance at the proceedings for the Lagos State government.