By Alexis AkwagyiramLAGOS, Nov 21 (Reuters) – A judicial panel investigatingclaims that Nigerian soldiers shot dead peaceful protesters inLagos viewed videos on Saturday appearing to show people hurt orsaying that they were being fired on, but an army generaldismissed the footage.Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, who heads the army’s 81stDivision in Lagos, also said soldiers had been deployed to theprotest with both live rounds and blanks, having previously toldthe panel only blanks were used. The panel is looking into allegations that the army andpolice last month opened fire on and killed people protesting atthe city’s Lekki Toll Gate against police brutality.The protests were largely peaceful but triggered some of theworst civil unrest since Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in1999. They climaxed in the events of Oct. 20, in which therights group Amnesty International said soldiers and police hadkilled at least 12 protesters in two districts.Both the army and police have denied killing demonstrators.The panel on Saturday watched surveillance camera footage ofevents at the toll gate on the evening of Oct. 20 as well asvideos submitted by others. One video, supplied by the army, appeared to show a personlying in a pool of blood. “We discovered it was a fake video,”Taiwo said, adding that the footage had been found online. The panel viewed other videos including one where a voice,amid the sound of gunfire, said: “They are shooting atprotesters”. Another showed a crowd, where a woman shouted:”They are shooting at us!”Taiwo said: “Many of these videos there were manipulated.”In his testimony last week, Taiwo said soldiers had firedblank rounds only, into the air, to disperse protesters. But onSaturday, he said soldiers had been sent with live rounds too.”The soldiers would be given both live and blank bullets,”he said. “We saw that these protests had been infiltrated bysome hoodlums. That is why they were armed with blank ammunitionin addition to the live they were carrying.”
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