The Retd. Justice Doris Okuwobi Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution on the alleged atrocities of the now disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) was on Saturday informed that President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief actually authorised the deployment of soldiers to maintain law and order in Lagos following escalation of violence during the EndSARS protests in the month of October.
The revelation was made during the cross-examination of the representative of the Nigeria Army, Brigadier General Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo of the 81 Division Intelligence Brigade by Counsel to the Lagos State Government, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN).
Asked about the chain of command in the military and if Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has the recognisable authority to deploy troops to help maintain law and order, Brigadier Taiwo said, the Governor could only have made a request but only the President and Commander-in-Chief can authorize the deployment of soldiers.
The disclosure brings to rest weeks of accusations by the EndSARS protesters that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu it was who ordered soldiers to disperse protesters from the Lekki Toll Plaza.
Brigadier Taiwo, speaking before the panel on Saturday, claimed that the events that culminated in the incident of October 20 at the Lekki Toll Gate had its remote causes in the wider EndSARS protest and its immediate causes in the lawlessness that ensued from October 18.
Brigadier Taiwo explained that the attack made Governor Sanwo-Olu to call on the Army to interfere in the crisis and due to the urgency of the situation, the governor imposed a 24-hour curfew which was to commence at 4:00 pm on October 20 but was later shifted to 9:00 pm.
According to him, the time was not communicated to the Nigerian Army, and troops were deployed immediately upon receipt of the signal to activate Phase 4, meaning immediate deployment of soldiers outside the barrack to help control the crisis of internal security.
He insists that the troops were not only deployed to the Lekki Tollgate, but to other areas like Badagry, Ikorodu, Apapa, Alimosho, Epe, Lagos Island and the entire state to restore normalcy.
Brigadier Taiwo added that the Army were shooting into the air at the Lekki tollgate and not at the protesters, backing his statement up with several video clips of what he says transpired that night.
Furthermore, he claimed that after the soldiers left the area, hoodlums went on to destroy the toll gate plaza.
He also insisted that the troops used blank bullets that contain gun powder, and cannot cause any damage to the flesh, and if real bullets were used one bullet would have killed three persons per shot.