#EndSARS: Lagos Judicial Panel on SARS visits Ikoyi Military Hospital for evidence

Ikoyi Military Hospital, Awolowo road, Ikoyi, Lagos

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) related abuses and other matters members on Friday paid an unscheduled visit to Ikoyi Military Hospital Mortuary.

The panel members led by Justice Doris Okuwobi (rtd) had visited the hospital under the management of the 65 Battalion of the Nigerian Army following an intelligence tip off the hospital’s mortuary could help in the investigation of the shootings and killings at the Lekki Tollgate.

The panel members were taken round the hospital facilities just renovated by military authorities.

They were taken into one of the newly renovated buildings in the premises where the panel went round to see if there was anything that can be of help in the investigation.

Earlier the Military personnel denied the panel and journalist access into the hospital, saying that they cannot be allowed in except they get a directive from their superiors.

Aside Justice Okuwobi (Rtd), other members of the panel on the visit included Rinu Oduala, Temitope Majekodunmi, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN); Director, Lagos State Directorate of Citizen’s Rights, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Odusanya; a representative of the civil society groups Ms Patience Udoh, the Zonal Coordinator (South-West Zone) – National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Lucas Koyejo  and Segun Awosanya (Segalink).

Adegboruwa said they were not just at Military hospital on the authority of the Governor of Lagos but also that of the President.

When asked what the panel would do if the military authorities had denied them access, the learned silk said: “We would take up other options. There are other options, open to us. If we are not allowed access, we can’t force ourselves on them. If they don’t allow us access we would go back and take other options.”

Adegboruwa further said that they have confidential information that facilities at the Military hospital in Ikoyi may be relevant to their investigation.

“We have confidential information that facilities at the Military Hospital in Ikoyi here may be relevant to our investigation, we have a pathologist with us and our interest is to inspect the Mortuary hospital, we don’t know what we would find there’’ he said.

“The visit to the Military hospital absolutely has something to do with the Lekki event of the 20th of October 2020. Like I said, we have no conclusion in our minds as to what we would find here.

“But we have intelligence to the extent that our work requires that we inspect the mortuary of the military hospital of here.

“As you have heard them say, this hospital is controlled by 65 battalion and we have also taken steps to be able to reach the authorities of the 65 battalions and the 82 division on Kofo Abayomi, so we have options if we are not allowed access,” Adegboruwa said.

When asked if it is possible to inform the authorities ahead next time, Adegboruwa said: “That would have defeated our purpose, we just got the information impromptu. We could not give them notice because of the importance of what we wanted to do. It is an investigation, if we give them notice ahead of time that may jeopardise the essence of the investigation.

“We have no conclusion that there is anything amiss, it is intelligence that is leading us to investigation, so we really don’t have any evidence to say whether there is anything or not. Our own is verification through investigation.”

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.