Rinu Oduala, a youth representative on the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing alleged killing of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll gate has pulled out of the panel.

Oduala cited cyber attacks and intimidation from accounts loyal to the government as reasons for stepping down from the panel.

The youth representative disclosed this in a statement on Friday, February 12, 2021.

In the statement, Oduala criticised the panel’s decision to approve to the reopening of Lekki tollgate, saying justice has not been served to the victims of the shooting that took place at the tollgate on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. 

Recently, the panel controversially decided to hand over the tollgate back to its operators, Lekki Concession Company, after forensic experts submitted their report.

Four members of the panel including Oduala opposed the decision, while five others including the chairman of the panel, retired Justice Doris Okuwobi supported the decision.

The reopening of the tollgate subsequently stirred controversy online as hashtags such as #OccupyLekkiTollgate and counter-protest hashtags such as #DefendLagos and #DemNoBornYourPapaWell trended for days.

Explaining why she stepped down from the panel, Oduala said, “My stand on the reopening on the toll gate is clear; the state government and the private organisation operating the toll have not been cleared of collusion with elements allegedly deployed by the federal govt to target citizens on home soil during a time of peace, without provocation.

“Justice has not been served, and as a representative of the Nigerian citizenry, my only recourse is to stay the course of justice.

“On 6th February 2021, we were ambushed with votes to reopen the toll gates. I participated because I do not believe in silence. It is clear where my loyalties lie.

“But at the end of the day, parties on the panel voted to reopen the toll, citing lost jobs as more important than justice for lost lives through a proceeding that didn’t form a proper quorum without the reps who represent the youth constituency that birthed the idea of the panel, and on whose mandates the panels were set up.

“Coupled with the undue intimidation of peaceful protesters, the cyber attacks accounts loyal to the government, and many more, I will be stepping down from the Lagos Judicial Panel as it is now obvious that the government is only out to use us for performative actions.

“We must not forget the purpose of this panel: to address injustice and create accountability for the SARS brutality and for the heinous events on 20th October 2020.

“When calls for justice are subsumed by commercial concerns and vested interests, it calls into question the legitimacy and integrity of the entire affair and the impartiality of the proceedings. Without a final panel report or actionable steps, we are returning to the status quo.”

Source: Pulse Nigeria

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