Officials of the Lagos State Environmental Tasks Force accompanied by policemen and persons suspected to be thugs have burnt down a community whose residents witnessed the October 20 shooting of peaceful protesters by soldiers at the Lekki Tollgate.
PREMIUM TIMES sourced some of its witnesses from the community for its groundbreaking investigation into the shooting, which revealed that soldiers and policemen shot directly at the protesters killing some and injuring several others.
After originally claiming that soldiers deployed to the tollgate to disperse the protesters were given only blank rounds and that “they merely shot in the air”, the army later admitted that the troops were carrying both live rounds and blank bullets.
Ahmed Taiwo, a major general, who represented the army at a judicial panel investigating the shooting, argued that the soldiers carried live rounds “because hoodlums had infiltrated the protest”.
Residents of the community also accused the divisional police officer of the nearby Maroko Police Division, Raji Ganiyu, of shooting and killing some of the protesters. Mr Ganiyu denied the allegation.
A 24-hours’ notice
Residents of the community who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said policemen and some officials of the environmental task force, arrived at the community on Tuesday and told them to vacate their residences within 24 hours.
The residents, who asked not to be named for fear of being arrested by the authorities, said they were still trying to gather their belongings on Tuesday morning when a contingent of taskforce officials, mobile policemen and “persons that looked like thugs” arrived and immediately started pulling down structures in the community.
They said while a bulldozer was pulling downs the mainly makeshift houses, the thugs were setting fire to the fallen structures and the policemen chased residents who were still trying to salvage their belongings far into the banks of the lagoon, injuring some of them.
“People were scared and thought they were going to be arrested and ran towards the lagoon where they sustain deep cuts in their legs from broken bottles that were discarded there,” one resident said.
‘Police mock residents’
Another resident said he and other residents were stopped and searched by the policemen who claimed they were looking for weapons hidden in the shanties.
He also said the policemen mocked residents of the shanty for participating in the protest and “for speaking to the media” after the indiscriminate shooting of peaceful protesters at the tollgate.
“They were laughing at us as we struggled to gather our properties. The policemen said: ‘Sheybi na una be ENDSARS protesters abi?’”
When reached for comment, the spokesperson of the Lagos State Environmental Taskforce, Taofeek Adebayo, asked for 30 minutes to find out why the community was demolished and burnt.
When he was reached later, he directed this reporter to the police for comment.
Muyiwa Adejobi, spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command said he was not aware of the demolition but promised to find out. He is yet to revert on this.