The Nigerian Army has disbanded its legal team for the Lagos State Judiciary Committee and effectively withdrawn from the investigative hearing as more evidence emerges confirming that Nigerian soldiers fired on peaceful protesters last October.
S.N. Agwhe, a member of the panel’s Army Legal Counsel, made the development known to the Judiciary Committee on Saturday,
Agwhe had appeared before the panel on behalf of the Army legal team but revealed that the Army legal counsel’s assignment ended Nov. 21.
“We have no further mandate to represent the Army in any subsequent proceedings,” Agwhe told the panel.
He reminded the panel that Akinlolu Kehinde, the head of the Army’s legal team, had previously submitted a memo informing the panel of the decision.
The latest hearing on Jan. 23 was the third consecutive time that the Army and its legal counsel failed to appear before the panel.
However, the panel’s chairwoman, Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge, warned that the army would not invoke the denial of a fair trial when the panel submitted its findings to the government.
The Army’s withdrawal from the panel comes after Reddington Hospital testified it treated victims of the #EndSARS protest with gunshot wounds on Oct. 20, 21 and 22.
Petitioners had alleged that soldiers opened fire on peaceful protesters, killing and injuring several demonstrators, leading to the army being summoned to appear before the judicial inquiry panel.
After initial denials, the Nigerian army had reluctantly admitted to being at the scene of the shooting in Lekki. Nevertheless, it denied opening fire on the protesters, many of whom were sitting on the ground singing the national anthem.
However, the army claims that officers were sent out to enforce a curfew imposed by the Lagos State government but did not open fire on peaceful protesters.