The legal team representing the Army has said that the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS and Related Abuses does not have the power to punish any soldier found guilty by the special court.
The claim was made by the leader of the team, Kehinde Akinlolu (SAN), during the presentation of a seven-page report to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, at the Army Headquarters in Abuja, on Monday.
According to Akinlolu, the Army was not under trial over the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters, which was said to have resulted in the death of some of the demonstrators.
“It must also be borne in mind that we were able to establish that the NA did not on its own volition set out to intervene in the crisis at the Lekki toll gate.
“The Lekki toll gate happens to be the area of passage to Epe corridors when the NA was called upon that ‘look, this matter is getting out of hand’ because we know very well that there are constitutional provisions for the civil authorities to call upon the NA to help when the civil police were overwhelmed as it was common knowledge, and that what exactly what happened in Lagos.
“We were able to show the footage, both oral and documentary evidence, and the panel also must bear in mind that it is a fact-finding panel.
“The panel has no capacity to ascribe any punishment or any sentence on anybody. The whole idea of setting up the panel of that nature is to help unravel what went wrong so that in future, necessary precautions will be taken,” the learned silk said.
Responding, the COaSi, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt. Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, said those who falsely accused the Army of deploying troops to shoot innocent protesters at Lekki last month, “must be ready to swallow their pride and apologize to the Army and the country by the time the judicial panel concludes its fact-finding”.
He said: “We are also looking forward and hope that all the people who have accused the army so badly will find the honour and grace in themselves, without pre-empting the Lagos State commission of inquiry, if it turns out that all the stories were made up to discredit the Army.
“We are also looking to a situation whereby most of those people will be honourable enough to swallow their pride and apologize to the Army and the country at large for attempting to destroy their own army and country, using false allegations and false accusations through the manipulation of social media.”