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Breaking: Army insists only blank ammunitions used by Soldiers at Lekki toll

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The Nigerian Army has once again insisted that it did not fire live rounds at the Lekki toll gate shootings because no fatality was recorded. 

The Army said this on Sunday in a released statement signed by Osoba Olaniyi; the Major Acting Deputy Director, 81 Division Army Public Relations.

This statement contradicts the position by Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo who had Saturday told the Lagos Judiciary panel of Inquiry that “The soldiers they were both given both live and blank bullets. In this particular case, we saw that these protests had been infiltrated by some hoodlums”. 

The statement released Sunday, titled ‘Re: Cross Examination of Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo on blank and live ammunition by troops of 81 division Nigerian Army’ was in response to the confession by Brigadier at the Lagos State panel that the Army went to the Lekki toll gate with both blank and live ammunitions.

However, through the statement released today, the Army says that taking live and blank ammunition to the toll gate was in line with the existing Rules of engagement and shooting the blanks into the air was in line with the law. 

The statement ends with an affirmation that “Nigerian Army is a law-abiding institution that acts in tandem with her Rules of Engagement”. 

The full statement reads: 

Re: Cross Examination of Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo on blank and live ammunition by troops of 81 division Nigerian Army

1. The attention of the Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to new items on both the Social and mainstream Media insinuating that the troops of Nigerian Army contracted its evidence of firing blank ammunition when it also carried live ammunition for Internal Security Operations on the 20 October. We hereby state unequivocally that carrying both blank and live ammunition is part of our Table of Equipment for Internal Security Operations. It is part of the Rules of Engagement for soldiers on Internal Security Operations to carry live and blank ammunition. The use of any of these ammunitions as stated in our Rules of Engagement depends on the level of threat at the operational area. 

2. Please note that one of the principles of Internal Security operations is the use of minimum Force. Minimum Force in itself is a function of the assessment of the assessment of the Commander on the ground. In this circumstances is the Lekki Toll Gate, the Commander on the ground assessed that there was no need to use live ammunition that was why only blank ammunition was used at the Lekki Toll Gate. The blank ammunition was fired into the sky and not at the protesters. The results are all glaring as there was no fatality recorded – this has been corroborated by both BBC report and other reputable news media outfits. 

3. The use of blank ammunition/minimum force achieved the aim of dispersing the hoodlums and crowd. It is pertinent to reiterate that the Nigerian Army is a law-abiding institution that acts in tandem with her Rules of Engagement. We therefore wish to advise all stakeholders to guard against being used by local and foreign agents of destabilisation who do not wish this country any good. 

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