Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters has asked Nigerians to wait for the outcome of an ongoing investigation into the Tuesday shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at Lekki, Lagos.
Footage showed the soldiers firing at the protesters who were demanding police reforms.
But responding to questions on the troops’ involvement in the incident during a briefing in Abuja on Thursday, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj. Gen. John Enenche, said his statement may prejudice the findings of the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
He described reports on the killing of the protesters by the soldiers as mere allegations, noting that some military analysts had dismissed as untrue, claims that the troops were responsible for the killings.
The media coordinator explained that the military was involved in internal security operations codenamed, ‘Operation MESA,’ in nine states, but declined to disclose further details on the joint security task force.
He stated, “The issue is not an operation that I can respond to, but I can tell you that it is an allegation, for now; so let us not set the cart before the horse.
“If the matter was still open-ended, I would have had a response for you but it is no longer open-ended, because immediately, not even up to five hours before midnight, the Governor of Lagos set up an inquiry. So, whatever we say now will not be fair to the commission.”
Enenche disclosed that the Operation MESA under the control of the state governments, comprised the Army, Navy, Air Force, Civil Defence and police personnel.
“So these operations are still standing and running and I am aware that the state governments are using them in all these capacities, that is internal security.
“The level we are now is internal security and that is why the police proactively came out and then deployed all their force package that are necessary to handle that (violence),” he noted.
Responding to a question about the absence of security operatives on the streets during the violence and widespread looting in Lagos by hoodlums, Enenche said, “they were on the grounds; maybe, they were not visible in all places.”
The Major General said the military has recorded more victories against bandits and insurgents, adding that the troops of Operation Hadarin Daji killed four bandits while others escaped with gunshot injuries at Rawayu village in Kurfi Local Government Area of Katsina State on October 15.
In another encounter, he disclosed that the security operatives in conjunction with vigilantes neutralized one Abubakar Haruna, a suspected arms trafficker and recovered 600 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition along Tsakiya road in Dutsinma LGA, Katsina State.