Soldiers fired blank bullets at Lekki protesters, says Ex-army spokesman

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Sani Usman, a former spokesman of the Nigerian Army, says soldiers fired blank bullets at the Lekki protest ground, and not live ammunition as widely claimed.

Speaking during an Arise Television programme on Thursday, the retired brigadier general said contrary to reports that many were killed in the incident, the blank ammunition used is not capable of killing anyone.

Men in military uniform had reportedly opened fire at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos where youth demonstrated against police brutality.

Although the Nigerian Army initially denied reports of being involved in the incident, it later admitted that its men were invited to restore order.

When he was interviewed on Thursday, Usman said there was enough ground to involve the military in the protests, citing reports of violence in parts of the state as a justification.

He accused various persons and organisations – including Amnesty International – which had fingered the army in the reported killings – of politicising the issue and lying against the military.

“People have decided to denigrate the military and to turn the military as the fall guy but evidence on ground does not support that assertion,” said Usman who retired from active service in 2019.

“Yes, there was the deployment of the military; to what extent and all that, it will be determined by the commission of enquiry.

“If you look at the canisters, they were blank ammo and blank ammo don’t even kill. At a close range, maybe 100-metres, it will have some pigmentation on your skin. Let’s leave the commission of enquiry to do its job.

“But it is very dangerous for anybody to politicise security in this country. The military is a symbol of national unity and national power; they should be insulated from all these politics.”

He added that the military should be commended for avoiding “serious collateral damage” during the shooting.

“Remember the military are armed and by the nature of their training, they are trained to kill and I think the military in its wisdom instead of using live ammunition decided to use blank armour which is meant for training,” Usman said.

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