At least six EndSARS protesters jumped into the river around the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos State on the evening of October 20, 2020, while the Nigerian Army deployed soldiers to fire bullets at peaceful protesters.
One of the six protesters, Caleb Ossai, told SaharaReporters that a boat operator came to their rescue and evacuated them to the Ikorodu area on the water.
He narrated that he was told a few persons, who were out of help, might have drowned.
Ossai said he was initially declared missing by his family members for close to a week before they traced him to the residence of a Good Samaritan in the Ikorodu area, where he was recuperating from the injuries he sustained during the ordeal.
The boat, which took the fleeing protesters from the Lekki Tollgate area to Ikorodu, almost capsized, according to the man who rescued Ossai, after he became unconscious during the incident.
In an interview with SaharaReporters, the 27-year-old said, “Trouble started when the soldiers arrived and started shooting, and some fell with injuries. People started running. Near the Lekki River where I was, some people also tried to escape from the bullets, and they began to push one another until some of us fell into the river. I could not swim, but I wore a white shirt. I was lucky to be visible, and the next time I woke up, I found myself in a house in the Ikorodu area.
“I could not find my phone or did not remember any contact of family members I could call. It took a week for my family members to be able to locate me. Many people jumped into that river. I am not sure everyone made it out alive. The man who hosted me in his house told me that the boat was filled and almost capsized as they journeyed to Ikorodu.”
It will be recalled that the peaceful EndSARS protest in the Lekki Tollgate area turned into a blood field on the evening of October 20 and around 6.50 pm, when soldiers from the 65 Battalion, Nigerian Army, Bonny Camp, Victoria Island, opened fire on the protesters. The military men killed and injured several demonstrators.
A certain Lieutenant Colonel Bello, who was the Commanding Officer of the battalion, had led the soldiers to fire bullets at the scene.
While addressing the Lagos Panel of Inquiry, Bello claimed that he only fired blank ammunition into the air.
According to witnesses, while people were rushed to hospital after bleeding from serious bullet injuries, complaints about missing persons increased from friends and family members of youths who were suspected of having attended the Lekki Tollgate protest.
Ossai was one of such requests.
A day after the shootings, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had initially denied any loss of life by gunfire or that he was aware of the deployment of soldiers.
Later, he admitted that two persons were killed in the incident, while the army said in a terse statement that the state government requested for a military clampdown on the protesters to enforce its earlier-than-scheduled curfew.
According to accounts of protesters, the deceased persons included two males; Folorunsho Olabisi and Anthony Okechukwu. His relatives have found Olabisi’s body at the mortuary of St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, with three bullet injuries.