The Nigerian Army has softened its stand on the invitation of the Lagos State Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged shooting of #EndSARS peaceful protesters by soldiers on October 20 at the Lekki tollgate.
The Army had earlier stated that it would not appear before the panel arguing that it was not the panel’s “duty” to invite the army.
The spokesman for the Nigerian Army, 81 Division, Lagos, Major Osoba Olaniyi, had stressed that the military would only appear before the panel if it received an invitation directly from the Lagos State Government, rather than the panel.
“If we receive a letter from the state, we will go. Are we not under civil authorities? Are we not part of Nigerians? Have you forgotten that we did not go there (Lekki tollgate) on our own?
“It is the state government that constituted that panel of inquiry. So, if anybody needs to get in touch with us to come, it is still the state, not the members,” Olaniyi had said.
However, sources close to the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel confirmed on Thursday that the army had acknowledged the panel’s invitation.
It was also stated that the panel had fixed Saturday (November 7) for the army’s appearance at the hearing taking place at the Lagos Court of Arbitration, Lekki.
One of the sources close to the panel, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Contrary to its earlier posture of resistance, the Nigerian Army seems to have bowed to pressure in respect of the invitation to appear before the Lagos panel on SARS. The Army will appear before the panel on Saturday. That is the day the panel has fixed for the Army to appear.
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“You know the panel was set up with the approval of the National Executive Council and President Muhammadu Buhari has always assured Nigerians and indeed the international community of full cooperation with the panel, so the Army cannot afford to ignore the invitation from the panel duly signed by its chairperson, who is a judicial officer.
“The whole world is watching us and all eyes are on the panel, especially in respect of the Lekki Tollgate. The Army is critical to the work of the panel and it will erode public confidence in the government if any of its institutions snubs the panel with impunity. After all, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, so how can the army openly defy the Panel that its own Commander-in-Chief has endorsed?”
Meanwhile, When contacted, the spokesman for 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Osoba Olaniyi, said, “If you have any question, go and meet the panel, don’t come and ask me. The panel is carrying out the investigation, go and meet the panel. I don’t have any comment.”
Osoba rebuffed further questions and hung up the call during the telephone conversation. (PMNews)