- LCC footage shows soldiers came in seven trucks
Soldiers deployed to Lekki tollgate, Lagos, on the night of October 20 to quell protest by youths against police brutality went with live bullets in addition to blank ammunition, the Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Lagos, Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, stated this on Saturday.
He spoke at the resumed proceedings of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged killing of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate.
Taiwo said a portion of the troops that operated at the tollgate on that night were indeed armed with live bullets.
He, however, maintained that only soldiers with blank bullets fired shots into the air.
Taiwo, who had earlier made a presentation before the panel in defence of the Nigerian Army on November 14, returned on Saturday for cross-examination by two counsel for #EndSARS protesters, Messrs Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN) and Mr Adesina Ogunlana.
When Olumide-Fusika asked Taiwo if soldiers who went to the tollgate carried guns, he said, “When you are talking of guns, you are talking about high-calibre guns. They were carrying rifles; not guns.”
But Olumide-Fusika told him that a visit to the tollgate after the shooting incidents showed marks or indentations suggestive of gunshots.
Responding, Taiwo said, “Definitely, a portion of the force will carry live bullets, in case they are attacked. But the soldiers that formed the firing team, who fired, used blank bullets. And that is why you watched the video and saw exactly what happened.”
Meanwhile, the CCTV footage of the incident has revealed the Nigerian Army sent at least seven military trucks to the Lekki tollgate on October 20.
The footage was played on Saturday before the cross-examination of Brigadier General Taiwo.
It also showed people running from the vicinity of Oriental Hotel towards the direction of the tollgate in the Lekki area at 6.43pm.
The military arrived there at 6.45pm in at least seven trucks seen in the footage.
The lights were turned off at the tollgate facility around 6.53pm and the footage began playing in a blurred black and white video.
At 6.55pm, the military drove through the tollgate and flashes of gunfire could be seen in the footage at 6.57pm.
At 7.09pm, the protesters appeared to be surrounded on all sides by the military vehicles.
The Chairman of the panel, retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, had earlier said during the hearing of November 6, a 20-hour footage presented by the Lekki Concession company (LCC) was given to lawyer for the #EndSARS protesters, Mr Adeshina Ogunlana.
She noted that the lawyer had on that day informed the panel that he would sift through the footage and select the portions that would be relevant to his case.
Lagos #EndSARS panel awards N10m to Kolade Johnson’s family
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.
Panel fines police N16m for killing teenager in Bayelsa
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.
Trump acquitted in impeachment trial; 7 Republican senators vote with Democrats
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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