By Fikayo Owoeye
LAGOS (Reuters) – A panel investigating shootings in Nigeria’s Lagos state that sparked the worst civil unrest in the nation since the end of military rule submitted its findings to the government on Monday, but the report was not immediately made public.
The panel was one of dozens set up across Nigeria last year to investigate abuses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police division abolished that year that rights groups accused of a myriad of abuses including beatings, torture, murder and rape.
The Lagos state panel was also tasked with investigating the events of Oct. 20, when demonstrators said soldiers and police at the Lekki Toll Gate opened fire on protesters.
Rights group Amnesty International said 12 protesters were killed in two districts that night. Both the military and police denied using live rounds.
One panel member, senior lawyer Ebun Adegboruwa, said in a statement posted on Facebook that the panel operated believing that “crimes against humanity” took place at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“The panel made far-reaching recommendations concerning the major actors that were found culpable, in order to achieve true healing and reconciliation,” he said. He called on the Lagos state governor to release the full report.
A spokesman for governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu did not immediately return a request for comment on Adegboruwa’s remarks.
In a statement, Sanwo-Olu said the reports and recommendations would be made public, but did not say when. He pledged to draft and release a “white paper” on the findings within two weeks, but it was unclear what the paper would contain.
The panel awarded a total of 410 million naira ($999,000) to 70 victims of police brutality, according to the governor. Some who petitioned the panel said it did not adequately compensate them, and that officers accused of carrying out abuses go unpunished.
($1 = 410.4200 naira)
(Reporting by Fikayo Owoeye Additional reporting and writing by Libby George; Editing by Mark Potter)