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Nigerian army used live bullets on Lekki protesters – CNN report

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  • Nigerian army was professional in its conduct – Buratai

A new can of worms may have been opened in the ongoing investigation into the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters in Lekki as a CNN investigation has claimed that the Nigerian army used live bullets on the parotesters during its intervention in the protests in Lekki, Lagos State.

The American cable network also gave the name of a protester who reportedly died on the night of the shootings as Victor Sunday Ibanga.

But the Nigerian army has denied using live rounds, insisting that its soldiers used blank bullets and shot only into the air.

Before the publication of Ibanga’s picture, no dead victim had been publicly identified.

CNN said a forensic probe of the bullet casings recovered from the scene of the incident showed that live bullets were fired at the protesters.

It said many Nigerian military sources confirmed that the bullet casings “match those used by the army”.

The CNN said two ballistics experts also confirmed that the shape of the bullet casings indicate they used live rounds.

The network also said it worked with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and “established that several of the bullets from the Lekki toll gate originated from Serbia. Export documents CNN has seen show that Nigeria purchased weaponry from Serbia almost every year between 2005 and 2016”.

People who were previously reported dead later came out to deny — or it turned out they died elsewhere before the October 20 shooting.

For instance, Obianuju Udeh, aka DJ Switch, who streamed the shooting live on Instagram, said she counted 15 dead bodies.

A protester who testified before the judicial panel set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate the incident said he saw one dead body.

The Nigerian army had initially denied its men were at the scene of the incident where hundreds of #EndSARS protesters gathered to demand an end to police brutality.

Some of the protesters told CNN that soldiers fired into the crowd.

The Lagos State Government had first said no deaths were recorded before Babatunde Sanwo-Olu, the governor, revealed that two persons later died from their wounds.

It is still unclear if Ibanga was one of the two since the details were not made public.

CNN said its probe of the incident showed that 27-year-old Ibanga died of bullet wounds sustained from the Lekki shootings.

According to the investigation, Elisha, Victor’s brother, received a call that he (Victor) had been shot dead and “that the police took his body away”.

CNN also quoted one Peace Okon as saying she had not seen her 18-year-old brother, Wisdom Okon, who went to the protest ground on the night of the shooting.

Okon was said to have relocated to Lagos only a few weeks before the incident.

”I’ve gone to hospitals; I’ve gone to police stations, I’ve gone to everywhere. I can’t find him,” his sister said.

CNN also reported that several families were yet to locate their loved ones since the Lekki shooting.

Nigerian Army reacts

Reacting to the CNN report, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, says the Nigerian Army was professional in its conduct.

He spoke while receiving members of the House of Representatives committee on Army at the Army headquarters on Wednesday.

He said, “Let me assure you and all Nigerians that the Nigerian Army is a professional army. We follow our rules of engagement. Nigerians should feel safe.

“We abide by rules of engagement and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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Lagos #EndSARS panel awards N10m to Kolade Johnson’s family

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The Lagos judicial panel has awarded the sum of N10 million to the family of late Kolade Johnson.

Johnson was shot during a raid by police officers at Onipetesi area in Lagos, while watching an English premiership match between Tottenham and Manchester United on March 31, 2019.

 

The incident sparked outrage on social media, after which the police authorities identified Ogunyemi Olalekan, a police inspector, and Godwin Orji, a sergeant, as the officers involved in the shooting.

 

Following an orderly trial, Olalekan was dismissed from the force after he was found guilty, while Orji was acquitted.

Doris Okuwobi, chairman of the Lagos panel, announced the compensation at the sitting on Friday.

 

The award sum was received by the mother of the deceased.

 

Thirteen petitioners — including Johnson’s family — were compensated with a total of N83 million at the sitting on Friday.

 

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Panel fines police N16m for killing teenager in Bayelsa

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The Bayelsa State Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and Other Related Matters has in a ruling on a petition awarded N16m against the police for extrajudicial killing of a teenager, late Innocent Kokorifa, in Yenagoa.

Innocent, who was 17 when he was shot dead by a trigger-happy officer in August 2016, was the son of Mr Daniel Kokorifa, a Federal Road Safety Corps official attached to the Rivers State Command.

Kokorifa, who is a native of Okpotuwari in the Southern Ijaw, Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, had in his petition numbered BYS/JPI/012/2020 prayed the panel to also consider the sum of N6m incurred since the brutal murder of his son.

The chairman of the panel, retired Justice Young Ogola, in the ruling awarded Kokorifa the sum of N16m in temporary compensation.

In another ruling, the panel also ordered the release of the corpse of another teenager, Emmanuel Victor, who was brutally killed by a policeman in 2011 in Yenagoa.

The panel further awarded the sum of N5m to the mother of the deceased 17-year-old, Grace Victor, for proper and decent burial of her son even though the culpable officer had been prosecuted and sentenced to death by hanging.

Ogola remarked that “there is no compensation for what was pronounced as vicarious liability or so; nothing that the policeman, who committed the crime, has already been sentenced to death.”

Similarly, the panel delivered judgments on over 13 petitions it received and awarded over N40m to the various petitioners in damages. 

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Trump acquitted in impeachment trial; 7 Republican senators vote with Democrats

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The US Senate on Saturday voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection despite significant Republican support for conviction, bringing an end to the fourth impeachment trial in the country’s history and the second for Trump.

Seven Republicans voted to convict Trump for allegedly inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol, when a mob of pro-Trump supporters tried to disrupt the electoral vote count formalizing Joe Biden’s election win before a joint session of Congress.

That is by far the most bipartisan support for conviction in impeachment history. The final vote was 57 to 43, 10 short of the 67 votes needed to secure a conviction.

Republican Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all voted guilty.

The vote means the Senate cannot bar Trump from holding future federal offices.

Moments after the vote concluded, the former president issued a statement praising his legal team and thanking the senators and other members of Congress “who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.”

“This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it,” Trump said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the vote “the largest and most bipartisan vote in any impeachment trial in history,” but noted it wasn’t enough to secure a conviction.

The trial “was about choosing country over Donald Trump, and 43 Republican members chose Trump. They chose Trump. It should be a weight on their conscience today, and it shall be a weight on their conscience in the future,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor.

With control of the Senate split 50-50, the House managers always had an uphill battle when it came to convincing enough Republicans to cross party lines and convict a former president who is still very popular with a large part of the GOP base.

In his closing argument, House manager Joe Neguse, D-Colo, argued, “The stakes could not be higher. Because the cold, hard truth is that what happened on January 6 can happen again. I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning.”

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, D-Md., urged the senators to think of the future.

“Senators, this trial, in the final analysis, is not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is. This trial is about who we are, who we are,” Raskin said.

Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen, meanwhile, insisted his client did nothing wrong and maintained he was the victim of vengeful Democrats and a biased news media. He called the impeachment proceedings a “charade from beginning to end.”

The managers’ task became more difficult Saturday when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in an email to his colleagues that he would vote to acquit since Trump was already out of office.

“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” the influential Kentucky Republican wrote in the email, which was obtained by NBC News.

McConnell, who’d rebuffed Democratic efforts to start the trial while Trump was still in office, had condemned Trump’s conduct after the riot and said he’d keep an open mind about voting to convict — something he’d ruled out entirely during Trump’s first impeachment trial last year.

After voting to acquit, McConnell blasted Trump for his “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and squarely laid the blame for the riot at Trump’s door in what amounted to an endorsement of many of the arguments laid out by House impeachment managers in a speech on the Senate floor.

“There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said.

McConnell had suggested in the email earlier in the day that Trump could still face other penalties.

“The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception’ argument raised by the House,” he wrote.

Opening arguments began on Wednesday, with House managers blaming the riot on Trump’s months-long campaign to cast doubt on the 2020 election, and his repeated assertions that the only way he would lose was if the election was “stolen.”

They focused on his fiery speech on the morning of the Jan. 6 riot, where he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” — and his refusal to take action after they did.

Trump declined a request from managers to testify at the trial, and refused to even submit a statement for it, facts Raskin urged senators to keep in mind on Saturday.

“I ask any of you, if you were charged with inciting violent insurrection against our country, and you’re falsely accused, would you come and testify? I know I would,” Raskin said.

The trial was the fourth of an impeached president. No president has ever been convicted.

– NBC News

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