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Fact Check: How true is Lai Mohammed’s claim that blank ammunition can not kill anyone?

Estimated Reading Time: 3

By Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi

Claim: Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, has claimed that soldiers who attacked unarmed protesters used blank ammunition, and blank ammunition cannot do any damage to the flesh, not to talk of killing anyone

Verdict:

FALSE: Blank ammunition if not used properly can kill. Studies and reports have confirmed several such deaths.

Full Text

The attack of unarmed protesters by unidentified soldiers at the Lekki Toll gate in Lagos has generated several comments globally, in which authorities in Nigeria have denied directing soldiers to attack unarmed citizens.

The military first denied knowledge of attacking protesters but later said it only fired blank bullets. Recently, the CNN investigation which supports other investigations done by prominent media organizations on Lekki shooting such as Premium Times, Peoples Gazette, Arise News among others, sprout out negative and positive comments from citizens including the government.

The Minister of Information and culture, Lai Mohammed in a nationwide Press briefing claims soldiers at the Lekki toll gate fired blank bullet into the air, and “blank ammunition cannot do any damage to the flesh, not to talk of killing anyone”, adding that firing live ammunition into the crowd, as some have alleged, would have led to mass killing, which never happened.

Verifications

Dubawa unraveled several published reports on how blank bullets have killed several people.

In April 1993, The NewYork Times reported that Brando Lee, a 27 years actor, the son of a popular actor, Bruce Lee  died on the scene when he was shot by a gun with a blank bullet. 

Mr. Lee was shot 20 feet away in his abdomen when he was filming the movie titled, “The Crow.”

Also publications by Metalfloss on December 4, 2015 reveals in the year 1984 that an actor Jon Erik-Hexum died while on the set of CBS’s Cover-Up as a result of a blank cartridge. “Bored by incessant delays, the actor pointed a gun loaded with blanks to his head and reportedly said, Can you believe this crap?” before pulling the trigger,” the report added.

He had pressed the barrel directly to his temple, and the force of the explosion still did incredible damage, even without a bullet. It drove a small chunk of his own skull into his brain, which caused severe hemorrhaging and put him in a coma. He died as a result of his injuries.

“Make no mistake: blanks can kill”, the publication warned.

Another publication in Forensic Science International Journal said the necks of three persons were badly injured as a result of loaded  blank ammunition. The weapon is said to have either been loaded by blank cartridges or tear gas cartridges which each victim died from blood loss as a result of ruptured cervical vessels.. 

Dubawa also reached out to a retired colonel Chinedu Owhonda for comments. Owhonda said blank ammunition can injure and kill someone, depending on the range it was shot from:

“Blank ammunition can injure somebody, and can kill, it  also depends on the impact. If you fire someone at close range to the chest, definitely the person will have issues,” he said.

Conclusion
Evidence gathered indicates that blank bullets can injure and kill someone. This makes False Lai Mohammed’s claim that blank ammunition cannot do any damage to the flesh, not to talk of killing anyone.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with NewsWire,, Nigeria  to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.


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