#EndSARS: How My Son Died In My Arms At Lekki Toll Gate – Woman Recalls
Nigerian woman whose son was killed at the Lekki toll gate during the #endsars protest last year has narrated her agonising story ahead of the memorial coming up on the 20th of October, 2021.
Here is the full report by CNN: When Adesola heard about the shooting at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on October 20, 2020, she immediately thought of her son who had earlier left home to join the hundreds of young people protesting against police brutality at the site.
In a blind panic, she called his phone, but there was no answer. She immediately hailed a passing motorcycle taxi, known locally as an Okada, and raced to the scene.
But nothing could have prepared her for the harrowing scenes she witnessed when she got there, she said. “While I was looking for my son… I saw people running and someone was in the gutter and had an iron bar in his eye. The person was already dead,” she recalled.
One year on from the shooting by security forces that quashed Nigeria’s fledgling youth protest movement, known as #EndSARS, Adesola (not her real name) is speaking to CNN on the condition of anonymity, for fear of recriminations.
We have also withheld her son’s name at her request. “We got there around 5 or 6 am,” she said in her first sit-down interview. “We saw a lot of people. There was a child holding a Nigerian flag lying dead, there was a bullet wound on the side of his body.
“He was a small boy and there were a lot of people there,” she told CNN from a makeshift wooden structure where she ekes out a living selling cold beverages.
‘He died in my arms’
As Adesola surveyed the scenes of chaos and stepped over the hastily discarded belongings of panicked protesters, she spotted a familiar figure lying in a pool of blood on the ground, wearing just one shoe.
“When I saw my son, I shouted and held him… The blood was too much, there was a bullet wound on his chest. His clothes were torn and the bullet had come out of his back,” she said, weeping as she recounted the painful moment.
Despite his injuries, she discovered her son was still alive. “I saw other people carrying their relatives, so I tried to carry him because he was still breathing at that moment. I called for help and people came to help me put him in a vehicle,” she said.
“He was looking at us while we were carrying him. He was just screaming ‘ah, ah,’ in pain.” They tried desperately to revive him in the car, but he didn’t make it, she told CNN.
“He died in my arms,” Adesola said. “I was shouting and I couldn’t keep calm.
“Her son was buried almost immediately in line with Muslim burial rites.
He was 32 and left behind two children, 14 and nine, who had also lost their mother in undisclosed circumstances a few years earlier.
No official death toll
Adesola says she is thankful she was able to find her son’s body. Others were not so fortunate.
CNN spoke to several families during an investigation last year who were yet to locate the bodies of their missing loved ones — protesters at the toll gate — who dozens of eyewitnesses say were shot at, first by members of the Nigerian army and then hours later by police.
Witnesses told CNN that ambulances were stopped from entering by Nigerian authorities.
There is no official death toll, but an Amnesty International investigation found that at least 12 people died at Lekki tollgate and another site on October 20.
Eyewitnesses told CNN they saw the army remove a number of bodies from the scene.
The CNN investigation pieced together what happened when the Nigerian army and later the police opened fire on civilians as they protested police brutality.
It used time stamps, video data, and geolocation to analyze hours of video shot by protesters — tracking the army’s movements to the Lekki toll gate where protests had been taking place for almost two weeks.
Video shot by an eyewitness appears to show the army shooting toward the crowd. The Nigerian government threatened to sanction CNN for its report.
The Nigerian Army’s account of what happened has shifted over time. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the army denied any involvement, describing reports of the incident as “fake news,” before backtracking and saying that soldiers were present but fired their weapons in the air and used blanks.
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