The forensic and ballistic company hired by the Lagos State government to examine the shooting incident at the Lekki Toll Gate during the #EndSARS protest has filed a report claiming that unidentified individuals fired live bullets at protestors on October 20, 2020.
According to Premium Times, the UK-based company Oxygene Consulting UK Ltd, represented by Mr Dieye Willie-Harry, its executive director and senior consultant, reported this in the team’s report via Zoom on Tuesday.
“We have not seen any evidence that conclusively shows a muzzle aiming at any individual and simultaneously being discharged with the consequence of shooting live ammunition (no flailing or falling injured victims),” Willie-Harry stated.
“However, we suspect that live, military-grade ammunition was shot at some time, by persons who have yet to be identified, considering the injuries reported from 21:00 hrs and further.”
The government hired Willie-team Harry’s 10 days after the shooting to do medical, ballistic, and forensic injury investigation of the incident, according to Willie-Harry.
“The medical treatment of victims had moved to an advanced stage, injuries had healed, and sufferers had been discharged from healthcare centers,” he added when the team of experts landed in Lagos in December.
“The victims’ capacity to offer accurate recollections of how, when, and where their injuries occurred may have degraded or been polluted by external influences and the passage of time,” he stated.
Willie-Harry is a military operation analyst, forensic investigator, abduction and ransom negotiator, trained paramedic, and surveillance officer who lives in the United Kingdom.
He said his team looked into medical reports and x-rays of the victims who were treated at public and private hospitals in Lagos, according to the forensic and ballistic report.
The medical data examined, according to the forensic investigator, covered the victims’ timing of arrival at medical institutions and the type of the injuries they incurred.
According to him, “no military-grade live ammunition (high-velocity) was shot at the protesters, at Lekki Toll Gate, on October 20, last year, between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 8:34 p.m.”
Later, after 9 p.m., military-grade ammunition was utilized, he added.
The team also investigated four gunshot patients who came to hospitals between 7:05 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. on the day of the shooting, according to the surveillance officer.
The wounds inflicted on the victims “may be safely identified as being discharged by either low-velocity calibre and/or artisanal/12 gauge weapons,” according to Willie-Harry.
“Due to the apparent breakdown of law and order, prevalent during the day, afternoon, and evening of October 20, 2020, in Lagos at the time of the alleged Lekki bombing, the team is unable to determine how, by whom, where, and when exactly these GSW [gunshot wounds] injuries were sustained,” the team said.
Although soldiers were sent to the Lekki Toll Gate axis, the Nigerian Army told the panel that they simply fired blank ammunition into the air to disperse the demonstrators.
Following reports of deaths and injuries purportedly caused by gunfire allegedly fired by Nigerian Army soldiers, the Nigerian Army later stated that it went to the Lekki Toll Gate carrying both live and blank ammo.
The team looked at 19 ballistic-related injuries, non-law enforcement grade ammunition-related injuries, and 23 medical ailments defined as non-ballistic, non-fire arm-related injuries, according to Willie-Harry.
According to him, a total of eight injuries were “commensurate with 7.62 x 39mm (law enforcement grade ammunition),” with only two occurring on October 20, last year. According to medical records, the remaining six were reported between October 21 and 22, last year.
11 of the injuries, according to Willie-Harry, were not caused by 7.62 x 39mm non-law enforcement grade ammunition. According to him, the injuries are caused by artisanal weapons, locally built small arms, and light weapons (SALW).
“What is known, however, is that if military forces had shot military-grade live ammunition directly at the protestors, there would have been casualties.
Military-grade ammunition, according to the forensic investigator, would have undoubtedly resulted in a large number of victims with fatal, catastrophic thoracic and head injuries if fired into a mass of human tissue at close range by military personnel who are trained by default to aim for the central body mass.
“Apart from the sworn statement by the military spokesperson before the Lagos State Tribunal, the team observed the military shooting blank ammo on video footage analyzed. This is due to their guns being repeatedly armed to reload before firing into the air,” he explained.
He, however, said examination carried out by the forensic team into the open-source imagery and news reporting, including the social media, showed that “the military fired live ammunition at some point.”
“Along with the individual injuries and medical reports, we are of the opinion that ‘live’ military-grade ammunition, may have been discharged at some point at the Lekki Toll Gate on 20th October 2020, after 21:00 hrs and possibly aimed, at the road surface in front of protesters.”
The expert said the live ammunition hit the “majority of the victims in the lower limbs at much reduced kinetic energy but with enough energy to fracture the long bones without exiting the victims’ bodies.”
According to the time stamp on medical data, injuries in this category were documented approximately 9:30 p.m., he said.
“The rifles carried by the military officers during the alleged incident were recognized as Kalashnikov AK type variants, including Chinese Type 56, some with (foldable bayonet) extended,” the team said. These weapons use the 7.62mmx39 Type 56 / PS cartridge.
The expert was cross-examined by lawyers for the police, #EndSARS demonstrators, and the Nigerian Bar Association after his testimony.
The expert’s testimony would be the last the panel would hear before making a decision on the shooting event at the Lekki Toll Gate in October 20 last year, according to Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge who chairs the panel.