The Nigerian Army has disbanded its legal team for the Lagos State Judicial Panel, effectively pulling out of the investigative hearing as more evidence resurfaces confirming that Nigerian soldiers shot at peaceful protesters last October. S.N. Agwhe, a member of army counsel to the panel made the development known to the Judicial Panel on Saturday, AriseNews reports.
Agwhe according to AriseNews, had appeared before the panel on behalf of the army legal team, but revealed that the job of the army counsel finished on November 21.
“We do not have any further mandate to represent the army in any subsequent proceedings,” Agwhe told the panel. He reminded the panel that Akinlolu Kehinde, head of the army legal team, had earlier submitted a memo notifying the panel of the decision. The last hearing on January 23 was the third time in a row that the army and its counsel failed to appear before the panel.
The panel chairman Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge, however, warned that the army would not claim denial of fair hearing when the panel submits its findings to the government.
The Army’s withdrawal from the panel comes after Reddington Hospital testified to treating victims from the #EndSARS protest with bullet wounds on October 20, 21 and 22. Petitioners had alleged that soldiers opened fire at peaceful protesters, killing and injuring several protesters, which led to the Army being summoned before the judicial panel of inquiry.
The Nigerian Army had reluctantly admitted being at the scene of the Lekki shootings after initial denials. still, it denied opening fire on the protesters, many of whom sat on the floor and were singing the national anthem. The army however claims that officers were sent out to enforce a curfew that was imposed by the Lagos State Government but didn’t open fire on peaceful protesters.