#EndSARSMemorial: Fact-checking Lai’s claims on Lekki shooting

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IN Nigeria, a memorial was held on the anniversary of what has come to be known as the 2020 Lekki shooting.

The incident happened when security forces came to dispel a protest, christened EndSARS, primarily championed by youth against police brutality.

In Abuja, the memorial was held at Unity Fountain where they marched towards the National Assembly complex, while in Lagos they drove through the Lekki Toll Gate.

However, on the same day, the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed held a press conference where he made numerous claims about the Lekki Toll Gate incident.

The FactCheckHub verified these claims.

Claim 1:

The military did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20 2020.

The minister during his speech made on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 stated that the military did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate .

He said, “With the preponderance of evidence against any massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th 2020, we are once again reiterating what we said one year ago, that: The military did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th 2020.”

FINDINGS show that the military men actually shot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct.20, 2020. Multiple reports from both national and international media revealed.

For instance, the BBC stated that the military men were shooting into the air where the protesters were gathered on the said day.

“Before we left the scene, they [military] were shooting into the air and while we were trying to find a safe cover, I saw a young man who seemed to be struggling for breath.

“I think what must have caused his situation must have been the sudden shock of the sporadic shooting from the military and of course the environment was tense.

“The shooting continued for about 20 minutes and we had to lie on our chests and move away from the crowd because of the high risk of stampede. My editor had to approach one of the soldiers to identify us as journalists before they allowed us a safe pass. We could only do that after about 20- 25 minutes of continuous shooting,” the report read in part.

Similarly, the protesters who were present at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020 told the CNN that the military men shoot at them while at the protest ground.

Also, a former spokesman of the Nigerian Army Sani Usman, said that the soldiers fired blank bullets at the Lekki Toll Gate where the protesters were present. He clarified that the soldiers shot blank bullets and not live ammunition.

THE VERDICT: The claim is FALSE. Multiple reports show that the military shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20 2020.

Claim 2:

There were neither bodies nor blood from Lekki Toll Gate incident

The minister in his speech also said “…And there was no massacre at the toll gate. The only ‘massacre’ recorded was in the social media, hence there were neither bodies nor blood.”

FINDINGS show that some protesters sustained injuries and some died. This was reported by both indegenous and foreign media.

Investigative journalist Fisayo Soyombo in a three-part series, revealed names and faces of some of the dead. He also documented those that sustained injuries at the October 20, 2020, incident.

Similarly, CNN reported  with graphic imagery of injury and death from the incident.

Furthermore, the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in an interview here and here admitted that two people were killed from Lekki shootings.

THE VERDICT: The claim is FALSE. Multiple reports show that people died and some others sustained injuries from the Lekki Toll Gate incident.

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