Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, Commander of the 81 Division, Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, told the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into the Lekki Tollgate incident that the Nigerian Army went to the tollgate with both blank and live ammunitions.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Taiwo made the revelation while being cross-examined by lawyers to the #EndSARS protesters, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN) and Adeshina Ogunlana.
Under cross-examination by Olumide-Fusika, Taiwo said there were men and materials from the Army at the Lekki Tollgate in the evening of October 20.
He said: “We had men and materials – vehicles and rifles for shooting.
“A portion of the force were carrying live bullets in case they are attacked.
“Another portion will carry magazines charged with blank ammunition.”
While being cross-examined by Ogunlana, Taiwo said the military acted within the Army’s Rules of Engagement in keeping up with professionalism.
He said: “The soldiers will be using both live and blank bullets and in this particular case, we saw that this protest had been infiltrated by hoodlums.
“We had peaceful protesters no doubt, but there were hoodlums who sought to take advantage of the protest.”
The Army General told the panel that the Army was not deployed to the Lekki Tollgate, but were on patrol to clear up the Lekki, Eti-Osa corridor.
He said the soldiers on patrol were, however, attacked by hoodlums around the area of the Oriental Hotel, Lekki, injuring one of them.
He noted that the Army did not engage in any form of dialogue or negotiations with the #EndSARS protesters at the tollgate because they were attacked by hoodlums.
Taiwo said: “They were pelted just before Oriental Hotel.
“Their response was to fire blank ammunition.
“They (soldiers) were stoned just as they dismounted.
“By the time they fired a few shots in the air, the hoodlums hightailed it.
“Our mission was not to clear the protest.
“We were just on our way to ensure normalcy on the Eti-Osa corridor.
“One officer was wounded.
“He was stoned on the lips.
“If we are attacked with stones, the only option is gunshot.”