The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, has praised the Nigerian army for its intervention during #EndSARS protests despite sweeping criticisms of the latter for opening fire on unarmed protesters at Lekki Tollgate.
In October 2020, thousands of youth demonstrated across the country for days in protest against decades of police brutality and other human rights abuses by defunct police department tagged Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Mr Akinolu who hosted the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Farouk Yahaya, at his palace on Tuesday, said although several Nigerians criticised the army for shooting protesters, he appreciated their efforts.
“I appreciate the efforts of the Nigerian Army during the #EndSARS’ protest.
“Many people criticised them for coming out during the protest but it was good they came out when the police could no longer handle the situation,” he said.
The monarch’s comment is despite a report by the state Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate cases of brutality, which described the October 20, 2020 incident as a massacre.
The panel also established that the Nigerian military shot live bullets, killed several protesters, and took corpses away in their vans.
But Mr Akinolu argued that the military’s intervention cushioned the situation.
“The army’s intervention calmed the situation, and I also thank the almighty Allah that nobody died in the palace during the incident,” he said.
The Lagos monarch’s palace was in 2020 invaded by irate youths who accused him of hoarding palliatives meant for poor citizens.
Foodstuffs, starched hard currencies, staff of office, among other valuables were carted away from Mr Akiolu’s palace as he was chased away from his domain for months.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, who was on an operational visit to Lagos to inaugurate some projects, said that his visit to the palace was to get royal blessings from the traditional ruler.
“I came to this palace to pay my respect and homage to the king before inaugurating the project in Isale-Eko.” he said.