September 11, (THEWILL) – The forensic firm contracted to provide expert services to the Lagos state panel on the October 20, 2020 Lekki shootings has distanced itself from reports that it indicted the Nigerian Army for killing peaceful protesters at the tollgate.
Sentinel Forensics Limited described the reports as “false publications,” saying they did not mirror its representatives’ testimony and submissions to the panel on Friday.
The Managing Director of Sentinel Forensics Ltd., Mr. Joseph Funsho-Ako, signed a statement to explain what transpired.
In the statement, which is headed, “Press Release Refuting False Reporting On Forensic Expert Testimony Regarding Findings In The Investigation Into Allegation Of Shooting Involving ENDSARS Protesters At The Lekki Toll Plaza,” Sentinel Forensics Limited said:
“1. Our attention is drawn to online news reporting and social media posts, currently making rounds relating to our expert witness testimony delivered on 10th September 2021 before the Lagos state Judicial panel of inquiry and restitution for victims of SARS related abuses sitting at the court of arbitration Lekki Lagos State.
“2. News making rounds on the internet and social media platforms suggests that our findings implicate and indict the Nigerian Army in the shooting of peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll plaza on October 20th 2020. This biased and unbalanced reporting is false and fake news.
“3. Our forensic specialist commented on record that following an extensive scene investigation at the Lekki Toll Plaza (TP1) by our team of specialist about 87 days after the incidence, there was an absence of any physical evidence supporting the allegations of discharge of live ammunition by Nigerian Army personnel. This scene investigation was conducted days after Sentinel Forensics Ltd was engaged by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry .
“4. With respect to the ballistic evidence presented to Sentinel Forensics Ltd for forensic examination by the Judicial Panel, our specialist indicated that two cartridge casings (from expended/fired) of 7.62 x 39mm ammunition was tendered by the Judicial Panel as evidence recovered at the scene, while one unit of live (unexpended/not fired) ammunition and one unit of cartridge case (expended/fired round) 7.62 x 39mm ammunition was tendered by the Nigerian Army.
“5. The Nigerian Army also tendered one unit of blank (unexpended/not fired) 7.62 x 51mm ammunition and one unit of blank (expended/fired round) 7.62 x 51mm ammunition. 6. Our specialist mentioned amongst other things that the live ammunition tendered as exhibit by the Nigerian Army was of the same type of cartridge and calibre as the ammunition casings tendered by the Judicial Panel which is 7.62 x 39mm. While the blank ammunition tendered was of a different cartridge type 7.62mm x 51mm.
“7. Our specialist testified in accordance with standard operating protocols in forensics and crime scene investigation which relies on analysis of physical evidence backed by empirical scientific procedures to draw objective conclusions and inferences and not hearsay or sensationalism.
“8. Therefore, we wish to categorically state that section 6 above does not in any way, manner or form indict or absolve any of the parties currently before the Judicial Panel as it sits to determine what occurred at Lekki Toll Plaza on October 20, 2020. In line with best practices and principles of fairness in adjudication, parties are considered innocent until proven guilty and the role of an expert witness is never to ascribe innocence or guilt but to support the courts in its finding.
“9. We strongly advise all new outlets to desist from sensational reporting and reach out to us via our widely circulated contact address on any matter where they require our direct comments.”