Nigerian Army on Tuesday said they were invited by the Lagos State Government to enforce the curfew imposed on the by governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu during the #EndSARS protest.
There has been a controversy over the involvement of soldiers in the protest, especially after men in military uniform opened fire on unarmed protesters at Lekki toll plaza, exactly a week ago.
However, in a statement, the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lagos, said the troops were requested to restore law and order after the 24-hour curfew was declared.
The army, however, insisted that the soldiers did not shoot at the #EndSARS protesters, adding that the personnel acted within “the confines of the Rules of Engagement for Internal Security operations.”
The statement titled, ‘Press release on alleged massacre of protesters at Lekki toll gate,’ was signed by the acting Deputy Director, 81 Division Army Public Relations, Major Osoba Olaniyi.
The army had been under fire for shooting some #EndSARS protesters and allegedly taking their dead bodies away.
But Olaniyi described the allegations as untrue, stressing that at no time did the soldiers fired at the protesters.
He stated, “The attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilian protesters were massacred by soldiers at Lekki toll plaza.
“This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country. At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian.
“From the onset of the ENDSARS protest, there was no time personnel of 81 Division Nigerian Army Lagos, were involved.
“However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government after a 24 hours curfew was imposed.
“This was as a result of the violence which led to several police stations being burnt, policemen killed, suspects in police custody released and weapons carted away.
“The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG (Lagos State Government) requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.
“The intervention of the military followed all laid down procedures for internal security operations and all the soldiers involved acted within the confines of the Rules of Engagement for Internal Security operations.”
The 81 Division reiterated that its men never shot at civilians while discharging their duties, noting that there were “glaring and convincing evidence to attest to this fact.”
The statement from the Army is coming hours after governor Sanwo-Olu, in an interview with CNN, said footage from the Lekki shooting showed it was the army that carried out the act.