Lekki shootings: We treated gunshot victims, others for days, says Reddington surgeon

A trauma and orthopaedic surgeon with Reddington Hospital in Lekki, Lagos, Dr Babajide Lawson, on Saturday narrated how the hospital received and treated “a large number” of injured persons, including those with bullet wounds, on the night of October 20, 2020.

Lawson said the Lekki facility of the hospital was “literally overwhelmed” by the crowd of  wounded persons, who were presented at the hospital at the same time, adding that he had to transfer some of the wounded persons to the Victoria Island branch of the hospital.

He said because all patients who come to Reddington Hospital with traumatic injuries had to pass through him, as the hospital’s surgeon in charge of trauma, he had a hectic evening, shuttling between the Lekki and Ikoyi branches of the hospital, attending to injured patients.

Lawson said some of the injured persons presented “entry and exit” bullet wounds.

The surgeon gave this account on Saturday when he appeared before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of       Inquiry probing the alleged killing of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20 last year.

While youths, who participated in the protest at the tollgate, had maintained that soldiers opened fire on protesters and killed many, the military had repeatedly denied the allegation.

The Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo, who had appeared before the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel to defend the military, had said that soldiers only fired blank bullets into the air to scare off the protesters.

Taiwo said though some of the soldiers carried live bullets, in accordance with military rule of engagement, they didn’t use live bullets on anyone.

But some protesters filed petitions before the judicial panel, giving detailed accounts of how soldiers allegedly killed many protesters and took away their corpses.

The Reddington surgeon appeared before the panel on Saturday in response to a summons issued on the hospital.

Giving his account of events of that night, the surgeon told the panel, “Being in charge of trauma means anybody that is involved in any form of traumatic injury, accident, gunshot and others, will have to go through me first. I saw a couple of them, the ones that needed admission, I admitted and the ones that did not were taken care of.

“The thing is on that October 20, a lot of patients presented at the Lekki office, that’s the Lekki hospital. I was shuttling between there and the VI office, which I represent.

“Later on the night of 20th, I also went to the Lekki office to assess and determine what amount of assistance they would require from me. I transferred some of the patients from the Lekki Hospital to the VI office.

“On the first night, there were about six patients that I saw, subsequently, other patients came, trickled in, as days continued.”

During cross-examination, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, representing some #EndSARS protesters, who claimed to have been shot by soldiers, told the surgeon that one of his clients, Samuel Asola, was treated at the Reddington hospital but his medical report was missing from those submitted by the hospital to the panel.

Responding to the SAN, the surgeon said, “On the night of this event, in the Lekki facility, when patients were brought in, it was a mass gathering situation in which case you have a large number of people presenting at the same time, literarily overwhelming the facility.

“In that kind of situation, there are lots of cases that might be compromised. If this patient says he was treated at the hospital, he can present at the hospital and get a medical report.”

When the SAN questioned the surgeon on why the hospital failed to remove the pellet lodged in the abdomen of one of the treated protesters, Nnaji Mabel, Lawson said, “As indicated in the report, we did not extract the pellet. I admitted the responsibility, we reviewed her CT and records, we determined that she did not need anything extensive, and she was treated and allowed to go.”

“It is normal to have pellets in your body and just go home?” the SAN asked.

Responding, the surgeon said, “Yes, it is possible. If there is a gunshot injury and the bullet does not in any way endanger the body, the pellet can remain.”

He added, “In a normal process, the protocol is that if there is a gunshot injury and bullets are extracted, the police will have to come and the bullets will be handed over.

“For the patients I treated, I did not extract any bullet; the patient that had pellet did not require a removal.”

Army’s legal team withdraws appearance before probe panel

Meanwhile, the military legal team told the panel on Saturday that it had been disengaged and no longer had a mandate to appear for the army before the panel.

The disclosure by the legal team, led by Mr Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN), came on Saturday following repeated failure of two military chiefs summoned by the panel to appear.

The summoned military chiefs who failed to appear before the panel are the General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Maj. Gen. Godwin Umelo, and the Commanding Officer, 65 Battalion, Bonny Camp, Victoria Island, Lagos, Lt. Col. S.O. Bello,

The panel had ordered that the summons be served on the military lead counsel to reach out to Umelo and Bello for them to honour the summons.

But the military legal team had also stopped appearing before the panel.

However, at the Saturday sitting, a member of the team, Mr S.N. Agweh, appeared and informed the panel that the military had disbanded the legal team.

Agweh said, “The letter written by Kehinde, dated 20th January, which was already sent to this panel, explains it all, that the team of legal practitioners led by Kehinde (SAN), who represented the Nigerian Army on this panel, based on the summons issued by this panel on the 28th day of October, 2020, that team has been disbanded by the Nigerian Army.

“Our job finished; I think, on 21st of November, and so, we do not have any further mandate to represent the Army in any subsequent proceedings.”

But the panel chairmen, Justice Okuwobi, had earlier lamented that the failure of the army chiefs to honour the summons was dragging the panel’s investigation of the Lekki shootings back.

The judge had said, “The difficulty the panel now experiences is having Mr Kehinde explain to the panel why those summoned by the panel are not attending proceeding; this is creating undue delay in the investigation of the Lekki event of October 20, 2020.”

Following arguments by counsel on Saturday, Justice Okuwobi ordered service of fresh summons on Umelo and Bello and further adjourned all five petitions against the Nigerian Army till February 27, noting that the military officers needed to appear to defend the petitions.


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