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EndSARS WHITE PAPER: LAGOS COMPLIED WITH LAW TO REACH ITS DECISION, SAYS ATTORNEY-GENERAL  

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu,
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Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) on Wednesday justified the State Government’s White Paper on the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) on the report of Lekki Tollgate incident, saying the State complied with the laws and the weight of evidence presented in the Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reach a decision on panel’s reports.

He said the positions of the Lagos State Government as stated in the White Paper was not contrary to the panel’s findings, especially the evidence of the Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, who said only three of the bodies that he conducted post mortem examination on during the EndSARS protests were from Lekki, and out of them, only one had gunshot injury.

Onigbanjo spoke during a Morning Show interview programme on Arise Television on Wednesday to discuss the White Paper released by Lagos State Government on the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and the Lekki Toll Gate incident of October 20, 2020 in Lagos.

It would be recalled that Lagos State Government in the White Paper released on Tuesday accepted 11, rejected one and agreed on six with modifications out of the 32 recommendations made by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the Lekki Tollgate shootings. It also stated that 14 recommendations fall outside its powers and would be forwarded to the Federal government for consideration.

Prior to the release of the White Paper, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu during a statewide broadcast called for harmony and invited youths, especially prominent members of the EndSARS campaigners and members of the civil society organisations to join him in a ‘Peace Walk’ to herald healing of Lagos State.

Onigbanjo said inconsistencies and contradictions in the leaked reports of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Lekki incidents that nine people died at Lekki Tollgate last year made the panel’s finding in respect to deaths at the tollgate unreliable, saying that for a finding that somebody died at a scene to be acceptable, there must be no doubt.

He said: “The position of Lagos State Government is based on the findings of the panel itself. So, it is not that Lagos State Government just conjured things from the air. We went through the report and what we saw particularly in reference to the death of nine persons is that they found the evidence of the Pathologist, Prof. Obafunwa, who conducted an autopsy on all the bodies picked up all over Lagos during the protests, not just at Lekki Tollgate but statewide, credible and there was no evidence to the contrary.

“Prof. Obafunwa said that of all the bodies he conducted autopsies on, three came from Lekki and out of the three only one had gunshot injuries. And the panel then said we believe you, we accept your evidence because there is nothing to the contrary. So, in law, if you put that on the imaginary scale, it means what Prof. Obafunwa said outweighs every other evidence before the panel.”

Onigbanjo also debunked the allegations that the Judicial Panel of Inquiry made no reference to policemen nor took them into consideration.

“They (JPI) issued two reports. The report that leaked only dealt with the issues from the Lekki Toll Gate. There is another report which they issued which was not leaked; that report deals with all the EndSARS petitions that were about 253 in number and of the 253, policemen also brought their own petitions and in that report, the panel awarded a sum of about N36.2million to the policemen who were affected one way or the other by the protests.

“So to be fair to them, they did consider the plights of the policemen too. And even if you look at most of their recommendations, they are for better welfare for the police, better equipment, more training, psychological evaluations, so they took them into consideration,” he said.

The Attorney-General also denied the allegations that Lagos State Government was put under pressure by the Federal Government to discredit the panel’s report, adding that at no time did the State Government encourage personal attacks against any members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry.

He said: “The Federal Government never put the Lagos State Government under any pressure to discredit the panel or anybody. If you check the records, nobody from Lagos State Government discredited the panel. In fact, they submitted the report on the 15th of November 2021, the Governor praised them and thanked them for the job they did.

“Even yesterday, in his speech, which he made before the White Paper was released, he thanked them again. So, nobody from the Lagos State Government directly or indirectly has sought to discredit members of the panel. We appreciate the job they did for almost 13 months. We do not condone such attacks on anybody.

“I think we have conducted ourselves in such a manner that we strive to always do what is right. We complied with the law; we set up the panel. So, if we didn’t even want the panel, there are so many ways it could have been stopped. They asked for an extension, we gave them. The initial funding was N200million; they exhausted it and asked for more, we gave them.

“We appointed independent-minded people into the panel. And the panel itself said in its report that they give credit to the Lagos State Government for allowing them to be completely independent. Lagos State Government has fulfilled all its promises to the public. We set up an independent panel, we said we will release a White Paper and we did. We have complied with the law all the way.”

Commenting on a few of the EndSARS activists turning down the requests by Governor Sanwo-Olu for a Peace Walk this month, Onigbanjo said the government will persuade Civil Society members to change their minds.

“As regards the issue of some civil society members who have said that they will not participate in the peace walk, of course, the government will seek to persuade them to change their minds, because ultimately we all thrive in peace. There is no government that wants to see a war-torn city, a war-torn State or even a State in which there is so much tension.

“So we will continue to talk to members of the civil society. We will continue to demonstrate the government’s good faith. We will continue to demonstrate the government’s sincerity by showing them all the steps that we have taken in the past 13 months before we arrived at where we are now. It is a continuous engagement.”

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Buhari Pledge to Rescue Kaduna Train Attack Hostages

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured to rescue 31 hostages taken in a train attack and return them “safe and unhurt”, his office said, five months after their abduction.

Gangs of bandits with no ideological or religious motives are known to kidnap for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria.

On March 28, armed men blew up a train travelling between Abuja and Kaduna and opened fire, killing eight people, wounding 26, and taking an unspecified number of passengers hostage.

A week later, they freed one hostage — a top bank executive — as a goodwill gesture for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, because of his “advanced age”.

Dozens of hostages have already been freed following negotiations, but 31 remain in the kidnappers den.

“I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers,” Buhari told representatives of the families of the hostages in Abuja on Thursday.

He said his government would ensure the safe return of the remaining hostages to their families.

“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt,” he assured.
The president commended the security forces on recent successes against kidnappers and “terrorists”.

“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and a number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop, or reduce,” he said.

“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country,” he said.

“Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand,” he added.

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja
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The Nigerian Army on Thursday buried five members of the Guards Brigade killed by bandits during a clearance operation in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

The soldiers were laid to rest at the Guards Brigade Cemetery, Maitama , Abuja, according to a statement by Guards Brigade spokesperson, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa

Among the deceased was Captain Attah Samuel.

“Until their demise, the gallant soldiers were serving with 7 Guards Battalion, Lungi Barracks Maitama and 176 Guards Battalion Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja respectively,” the statement said.

“While reading the funeral oration of the deceased officer and soldiers, the Commanding Officers of 7 Guards Battalion Lt Col Salim Yusuf Hassan and Commanding Officer 176 Guards Battalion, Lt Col Joshuah Kolowale Adisa described the late Captain and Soldiers as thoroughly bred Infantrymen who were genuinely committed to their duties in defence of Nigeria and whose contribution and services would be greatly missed.

“They asked God to console the families left behind stressing that while the Brigade and the Nigerian Army mourns, the families should take solace in the fact that they have fought a just fight and their souls shall continue to rest with the lord till the resurrection morning.

“Highpoint of the event was the presentation of accoutrements by the representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen James Alilu Ataguba to the next of kins of the deceased personnel and lowering of the remains of the fallen heroes.

There was also the blowing of the last post and gun salute to bid the departed heroes fair well

“The burial process started with Christian wake keep and funeral service held in honour of the fallen heroes at St John’s Military Church (Protestant) before the final Internment at the Guards Brigade Cemetery Maitama Abuja.

“The solemn ceremony was witnessed by senior officers of the Nigerian Army, Commanding Officers, Staff Officers of the Brigade, Bwari Area Council Chairman, Hon John Gabaya as well as family members and the barracks community.”

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Two More ISWAP Terrorists Linked To Owo Church Attack Arrested – DHQ

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor
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Two more Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists linked to the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, have been arrested.

Gunmen had on June 5 stormed the Catholic church, killing over 40 worshippers and injuring others.

The incident drew widespread condemnation, with President Muhammadu Buhari ordering security agencies to arrest the attackers.

On June 9, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, blamed the attack on ISWAP, but the claim was countered by Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Just yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, announced that the gunmen behind the attack on the church have been arrested.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Defence Information, Jimmy Akpor, said the two suspected ISWAP fighters were arrested through the collaborative effort of the military and the Department of State Services (DSS).

“Recall that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, during his parley with media executives and editors yesterday, Tuesday 9 August 2022, informed of the arrest of 4 terrorists among those who carried out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022,” Akpor said.

“They were arrested through a combined operation by military and DSS personnel at Eika, Okehi LGA, Kogi State on 1 August 2022.

“Those arrested include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.

“Barely few hours after the disclosure by the CDS of the arrest of 4 of the Owo Catholic Church attackers, 2 additional ISWAP terrorists, who were also connected to the attack on the church were apprehended at Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA, Ondo State yesterday, 9 August 2022.

“The arrests were made through the collaborative effort by military and DSS personnel. The suspects are Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris.

“It is instructive to note that Abdulhaleem, alongside other high profile ISWAP commanders, had also previously coordinated attacks on military targets in Okene, Okene LGA, Kogi State resulting in casualties.”

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