Joseph Kayode, managing director of Sentinel Forensics Limited, says physical evidence had been removed from Lekki tollgate before his team conducted analysis at the scene of the October 2020 incident.
Kayode appeared before the Lagos judicial panel on Saturday, for cross-examination of the forensic report submitted to the panel on Friday.
The forensic company was hired by the Lagos state government on December 29, 2020 to “conduct a forensic review” of the Lekki tollgate shooting.
Speaking before the panel on Saturday, the forensic expert said his team visited the tollgate for actual scene examination on January 13, 2021, and later on January 15.
During cross-examination, Bernard Onigah, head of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) team representing the protesters, enquired why the forensic firm could not ascertain if the Nigerian Army fired live or blank ammunition.
However, Kayode said when the team visited Lekki tollgate to enable the team to get ballistics evidence, the scene had been tampered with.
Kayode said his team wrote to the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to ask if they had seen cartridge casings while cleaning up the tollgate, but did not get a response.
“The findings of this investigation show that the integrity of the scene of the incident was not preserved. Items of physical evidence were removed and lost between the timeline of the incident at the scene and examination,” he said.
“There are investigations that are conducted and several years after the incident had happened, a scene search will be looking for ballistics evidence that might have been missing, for instance, during clean-up exercise.
“However, when you are conducting ballistics investigation, what we are looking for are certain characteristics of firearms and evidence, leading to the firearms that might be in the cartridge casing. But when we got there, we realised that the integrity of the scene had been compromised.”
‘FUTHER ANALYSIS NEEDED TO DETERMINE IF ARMY FIRED LIVE AMMUNITION’
While testifying before the panel in November 2020, the army had said its operatives used blank ammunitionwhile at the tollgate.
Asked by Onigah to shed more light on recommendations to the panel, the expert said there is a need for further analysis to determine if live bullets were fired by the army.
The forensic expert said there is a need for analysis of the firearms used during the Lekki shooting, and the cartridge casings found at the scene.
Kayode had, on Friday, told the panel that the samples of ammunition presented by the army are of the same calibre as those retrieved at the Lekki tollgate.
“Examination of bullet casings recovered by the panel (unknown source) to that tendered by the army (known source) show that they are of the same callber 7.62 x 39mm,” he said.
“The results from the examination of items recovered from the crime scene by us and the general scene investigation are not informative enough to substantiate the allegation that live rounds were fired at protesters.
“Further analysis would need to be conducted to determine if these expended live ammunition casings found at the scene were fired by the Nigerian Army personnel.”
When asked what he meant by “further analysis”, the forensic expert said: “there is a need to compare the casings of the firearms shot by the suspects and the casings found at the scene”.
“The make and model of the rifle, rifle serial number, number of rounds of live and blank ammunition must be known,” he added.
Asked why his team can’t access the server of the video tendered by the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), Kayode said he was informed that the location of the server was razed during the Lekki incident.
After cross-examination, Doris Okuwobi, chairman of the panel, discharged the expert.