#ENDSARS: Controversy trails Feminist Coalition’s financial report

#ENDSARS: Controversy trails Feminist Coalition’s financial report
The Feminist Coalition, a not-for-profit organisation and one of the leading supporters of the #EndSARS campaign has come under fire over its financial report released yesterday.

The coalition is one of the major groups that provided financial support for Nigerian youths during last year’s protests against brutality and extrajudicial killings of citizens by the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

During the protest in October 2020, donations were made to the coalition by their supporters through bitcoin after government authorities reportedly blocked its account.

After the protest, the coalition stopped receiving donations, saying it would give the breakdown of how the remaining funds would be disbursed.

The coalition, which received over N150m donation for #EndSARS, was under fire for releasing its financial report to ‘donors’ only, while critics demand that the group makes the report public.

The coalition tweeted on Saturday, “Donors to the October 2020 peaceful #EndSARS protests have been emailed a copy of the completed audit. Thank you again to all who donated.”

The complete audit was carried out by SIAO, for a period of six months which ended on 31 March 2021.

FEMCO’s action sparked outrage on social media

Many believe the audit should be a public document, especially after allegations of Bitcoin donations the group received were mismanaged.

Nigerians took to social media to call out individuals and organisations that crowd-funded the protest to be held accountable for donations they received.

Freelance Journalist, David Hundeyin, for example said, “Anyway Femco’s clear and egregious dishonesty isn’t among the top 50 problems currently facing Nigeria and it doesn’t really change anything, so I won’t follow this matter anymore. I’m just reporting everybody to themselves so that we won’t ask “How did we get here” in future.”

‘We treated 15 Lekki tollgate shooting victims’

Meanwhile, the Medical Director of Grandville Trauma Centre, Aranmolate Ayobami, yesterday said his facility treated 15 victims of the Lekki Tollgate shootings of last October 20 in Lagos.

Ayobami told the Lagos State Judicial Panel probing police brutality and the Lekki tollgate incident that the patients were transferred from three hospitals in Lekki, with gunshot wounds.

He said the 15 patients comprised four referrals from Vedic Life Healthcare, seven referrals from Reddington Hospital and two from Doreen Hospital.

No fewer than 14 petitioners have accused the Army of shooting several protesters dead and injuring several.

The Army, which entered a defence denying the allegation, failed to honour subsequent summons requiring it to respond to further questions by petitioners.

Ayobami, a surgeon, appeared before the panel based on a summon issued to Grandville Trauma Centre to give account of their encounter with protesters from the Lekki incident.

Led in evidence by Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, he said members of the public, not the federal or Lagos State Government, foot the patients’ medical bills.

According to him, staff of the hospital also donated blood for one of the victims who needed blood.

Following a request by panel chair, Retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, he named the patients as follows: Ikwrogbo Theophilus, 38 (gunshot injury to the lower limb, had an x-fix; metal objects attached to the broken bones); Adamu Hassan Yinusa, 27 (gunshot injury to the elbow bone and had x-fix as well; and Nicholas Okpe, 43 (gunshot injury to the chest, a chest tube was passed into the lungs to allow for air and blood and was transferred to LASUTH for further care).

Others are Ogbonna Emmanuel, 20 (gunshot injury to the thigh and had a broken femur); Olalekan Faleye, 23 (gunshot injury to the leg; taken in for vascular ligation to save his life; took five pints of blood and referred to Igbobi where he had amputation of the limb); Joshua James, 32 (gunshot injury to the left thigh, had multiple dressings); and Patric Okolo, 22 (gunshot injury to the right forearm).

Also, the Director, Hospital Administration and Human Resources of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Gbajumo Kehinde, appeared before the panel. Kehinde, who appeared following a summons, tendered some documents to the panel, but is yet to testify. Proceedings were adjourned till May 15.

Protest coordinator produces fresh videos of ‘dead, injured protesters’

Also, one of the coordinators of the #EndSARS protests, Serah Ibrahim, yesterday presented fresh videos and pictures appearing to show people allegedly shot dead or injured by the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020.

Ibrahim’s evidence was played before the Lagos State Judicial Panel probing police brutality and the tollgate incident, in continuation of her testimony about the Army’s role in ending the protests.

The witness, a freelance auditor, first appeared before the panel on April 18, when she alleged that at least 10 people were shot dead by the soldiers.

She also tendered flash drives containing the videos and pictures, some of which she said she shot personally with her iPhone.

The Army, which appeared thrice before the panel, denied the allegations, saying it fired blank bullets in the air to disperse the crowd.

It has, however, shunned repeated summons by the panel requiring it to respond to petitioners’ further questions and evidence debunking its claims.

Ibrahim resumed her testimony while being led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Olumide-Fusika.

The videos played before the panel showed the soldiers present at the toll gate, shooting into the air. It also seemed that they also fired at the protesters.

It showed what appeared to be bodies – about at least five – with several other protesters injured.

One after the other, Ibrahim played the videos, explaining in the process that the soldiers not only shot at harmless protesters, they even took away some of the dead bodies.

The witness said the videos and pictures were evidence that the Army lied about firing only blanks.

In one of the videos, the witness showed the entrance of one of the hospitals that victims were taken to, saying the hospital was overwhelmed.

According to her, soldiers took away bodies of several protesters that they shot.

She specifically mentioned that the soldiers took away one of the shooting victims, Lekan Sanusi. Sanusi, an active protester, was thought to be dead.

It was later found out that he was taken to MRS Hospital at Bonny Camp where an unidentified nurse helped him to escape.

“They took the bodies to the Military Hospital. We got to know because one of the people in the van that was not yet dead said he counted 11 bodies. It was one of the nurses there that saw that he was still alive that helped him,” she said.

The videos of two mothers who claimed to have lost their sons at the protest ground were also played.

One of the mothers, Mrs. Ndifreke Sunday, testified in Efik, which was interpreted to the panel.

“My child bears Victor Sunday Ikana. Their father died and left them, and I took care of them. He went to Lagos and has been staying for long. He sends help (money) to me and his siblings, one boy and three girls.

“On 20th of October, someone called me and said I should call Npoi-Ikana. When I called, his phone rang but he did not respond. Then I called his friend, who is also in Lagos.”

The bereaved mother said her son’s friend told her that Ikana was shot and killed, but she had not seen his corpse.

Another mother, whose video interview was played at the panel, said she picked up the corpse of her son at the shanty near the Lekki tollgate, among other corpses.

“They said people were not killed, but we saw many corpses. We identified my son with the cloth he was wearing,” she said.

Judge emeritus Doris Okuwobi, who chairs the panel, adjourned further hearing till May 15.

(The Nation)


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