By Fola Adeola
Nine of the soldiers deployed to quell #EndSARS violence missed their weddings, a Brigadier in the Nigerian Army has told a tribunal of Inquiry in Lagos.
“They (the affected soldiers) planned to get married, they missed it because they had to stay put,” said Ibrahim Taiwo, a military intelligence officer.
He also stated that some of the soldiers deployed for the operation had just completed training on civil engagement.
Taiwo, who is commander 81 Div., NA, and Head of Military Intelligence Brigade, equally denied soldiers aimed at and killed #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Circle Plaza on October 20.
He insisted shots were fired into the air, and beamed a BBC footage where its country reporter stated the same during a news round. This assertion contradicts widely held claim that soldiers shot directly at protesters and allegedly killed some.
The senior military officer was appearing as a witness for the NA at the ongoing tribunal investigating the incident and cases of police brutality against citizens.
The army has faced criticisms over the incident but continues to extricate itself by insisting Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu requested its intervention after the police had been overpowered.
So far, the army has moved from initial denial it had no boots on ground, to stating only blank ammunition were fired, and maintaining none of its soldiers killed protesters at the tollgate.
Taiwo explained a soldier could only shoot to kill if his life is in danger. He wondered how soldiers would “kill their brothers and sisters” without cause while describing the army as the “People’s Army”.
He justified the deployment of soldiers, saying it was “proper thing to do” as hoodlums had already taken over and were formenting trouble.
“It is inexcusable for troops to stand aside and watch security situation deteriorates leading to loss of lives or damage to properties without intervening”, said Taiwo while quoting the army’s Rules of Engagement, (RoE).
“The Rules of Engagement for internal security were strictly followed,” he stated.
The tribunal adjourned till next Saturday for #EndSARS campaigners lawyer, Olumide Fusika to further examine the Brigadier.