Saturday, December 19, 2020

Lekki Shooting: Protester allegedly shot by soldiers now amputee, lawyer tells panel

Lucky Philemon, a 27-year-old Nigerian who joined the protest against police brutality and extrajudicial killings, has lost his left leg to the October 20 Lekki toll gate shooting incident.

Ezekiel Bamgbala, the counsel to the victim, said this Friday at the judicial panel hearing cases of police brutality in Lagos when the matter was called for mention.

Mr Bamgbala said his client suffered serious injuries as a consequence of the October 20 Lekki shooting and became an amputee as a result – with his left leg amputated.

The lawyer told the panel that the victim was willing to give his testimony if permitted by the panel.

The respondents in the matter are the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force.

While the counsel to the police was present at the sitting, the panel said a summon needed to be served on the Nigerian Army for an appearance before the panel.

In a separate interview, Nwakor Chinedu, one of the lawyers of the victim, said Mr Philemon suffered injustice merely because he joined the protest against police brutality and extrajudicial killings.

“He decided to join other young Nigerians who are protesting for equitable and just society where they can be free to live their lives without being tortured and extrajudicially killed by the Nigerian police and equally the SARS.

“He joined the protest around 5 p.m. on his way back from work and was there till 7 p.m. in the evening when the military men were advancing,” Mr Chinedu said.

According to the report the victim gave, they were advised to sit on the floor, wave the flag and sing the national anthem. Suddenly, without provocation, the security officials began to shoot and as the gunfire became intense, he decided it was time to leave the arena and that was the last thing he remembered, the lawyer said.

Mr Chinedu said the victim was directly shot at by the soldiers and became unconscious, before he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance by the soldiers.

Mr Philemon was one of the victims visited by the Lagos State Government at Redington Hospital, Lagos, where he was treated. His hospital bill was paid by the Lagos State Government.

“Hours later after he regained consciousness, he found himself at the hospital amidst other badly injured protesters,” he said.

Mr Chinedu said his left leg was amputated at Redington Hospital, Lagos, where he was admitted from October 20 to November 23.

“He was told at the point of discharge that Lagos State Government has picked up his bills and that was when he was given the crutches.”

The lawyer said the petitioner is urging the panel and the state government to ameliorate his suffering and compensate him because he has suffered a lifetime disability.

Dorris Okuwobi, the chair of the panel, adjourned hearing in the matter to January 8, 2021, to give room for the Nigerian Army to be legally represented at the panel.

Although the Nigerian army has claimed that its officers did not fire live bullets at protesters during the Lekki incident, a Premium Times investigation had shown that claim to be false with many victims of the shooting identified and at least two deaths confirmed by state authorities.

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