The final report of the panel set up to investigate the Lekki Massacre has sparked a lot of reactions but it seems things might be taking a new turn as the Federal Government, yesterday, threw its weight behind the Lagos State government’s White Paper on the report, promising to take further actions.
The Lagos State government, on Tuesday, rejected key recommendations of the panel’s report especially the one that bordered on shootings at Lekki Tollgate by Security Agents.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, who spoke on Channels Television as regards the White Paper, said: “It all depends on the perspective you look at it and the prevailing laws that are in contexts. When you talk about laws that are exclusively applicable to the federation and context of the actual situation, it is not out of place to arrive at a conclusion. What you make out of it is a function of the applicable laws. What I am saying is not a general statement but about the factual situation of applicability and enforceability.”
On whether panels have the right to investigate the Army or the Police, he said: “Investigation on its right is all-inclusive. There are, however, limits in terms of applicable laws. You cannot, for example, out rule the possibility of an investigation with regards to the personnel or institutions involved. If the allegation is about a breach or infraction of state law by a police officer or military personnel, it goes to reason that you cannot overrule the possibility of investigation taking into consideration the undertones of the laws of the state. But if what is in the contest is a federal law, and by which a state does not have power or jurisdiction, it should accord to common sense and the law that it is only indeed a federal establishment that can conduct wholehearted investigations into such matters.
“So if what is in the contest is the violation of law applicable in the state, and a breach is being viewed with the purpose of ascertaining liability, certainly it is within the powers of the state to investigate. But when what is in the contest is a federal law, and then it is clear the state cannot look into it.
“It is true that the EndSARS generated a lot of interest. What we must take into consideration here is that along the line, there were issues of hate speeches by the youths and other actors even the imposition of dramatic scenes. There was a need for a comprehensive investigation and this was why states set up panels which have finally resulted in the reports we have now. One key important thing for consideration is that many possibilities cannot be ruled out inclusive of fake news, hate speeches, impositions and drama scenes.
When asked whether the events of October 20, 2020, were real, Malami said: “It has been established beyond doubt that some of the things that were alleged to have happened, did not happen. On October 21, 2020, the BBC in a documentary had, in fact, insinuated that possibility.
On whether anybody was killed during the protest, he said: “I can’t be preemptive when in fact you have a commissioned inquiry set up to ascertain that. I am not in a position to draw a conclusion but I can assure you that we will get the facts on the ground. It is not about who is involved but what the facts are. My position as the chief law officer is to proffer solution based on facts on the ground.”
On the recommendation by the Lagos EndSARS panel that the military should not be drafted to scenes of civil unrest, Malami said the government would further interrogate the matter to know whether the prevailing situation then warranted the involvement of the military.”