Why Lekki toll gate surveillance camera stopped working

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The surveillance camera at the Lekki toll gate stopped working at about 8 pm because it was tampered with, Lekki Concession Company Managing Director, Mr Abayomi Omomuwa, has revealed.

Omomuwa said The camera, a “PTZ – Pan, Tilt and Zoom – camera, has the capability of identifying small objects and can zoom as far as 1.75 – 2kilometres on any side.

He however explained the reason for the lack of audio in the footage from the CCTV camera, saying it was not activated because it was only used for traffic purposes and not for surveillance.

He spoke while testifying before a Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State Government to probe the Lekki shooting as well as complaints of human rights abuses against members of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

Responding to a question by LCC Counsel, Mr Rotimi Seriki, concerning the events of October 20, Omomuwa said: “I can confirm categorically that we never tampered with the surveillance camera. As we probably will see in the footage, it remained there till some time later, till about 8 O’clock when it was tampered with and we couldn’t get any network coverage anymore…

“I’m talking about the physical camera that we saw that day (during the panel’s visit to the toll gate last week). It is still there. But around and after 8 o’clock, it stopped recording.”

On why the surveillance camera stopped working, Omomuwa explained that it was due to a disruption in the network.

He said: “The major cause is because the network is the one that connects the various cameras. As at today, we have three cameras: we have one at Sandfield, the second at the Ikoyi Bridge and the third camera at the Chevron office. The server itself, i.e. where the database is, is located at the Chevron office.”

Earlier, Omomuwa, through Seriki, tendered the surveillance camera video footage of October 20, to the panel.

He also tendered other exhibits, including a press release issued by the firm following the shooting and messages containing alleged false allegations that the LCC was planning to use law enforcement agents to disrupt the #EndSARS protest at the toll gate.

He said: “I can confirm that inside here is the video footage that our surveillance camera was able to record for the 20th of October.”

Soldiers have been accused of opening fire on and killing peaceful protesters demanding police reform, at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, an allegation the Nigerian Army denies.

The MD also shed light on other controversies surrounding the incident.

He testified that neither he nor any member of his staff witnessed any shooting of protesters at the toll gate on the evening of October 20.

He explained that his staff vacated the area early that day following the 4 pm curfew announced by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The Governor subsequently adjusted the curfew for 9 pm.

He tendered a company-wide email sent on 20-10-2020 by Human Resources to LCC staff to observe the curfew.

LCC, he explained, was not granted a curfew waiver, so all its staff had to comply.

He explained further that this affected the operation of the lights at the toll gate on the night of October 20.

“We usually put the lights on at about 7:30 pm,” adding that all its staff, left the location at 4 pm.

The LCC MD emphasised that they never received any instructions to switch off power, lights, or remove cameras, adding that backup power came on after the power from the Independent Power Project (IPP) went off.

When asked who switched off the billboard lights on the night of the shooting, Omomuwa explained that LCC adverts, including those at the location, were run by advertising agencies.

He named them to include LOATSAD, Prodigy, iContact and eMotion.

Omomuwa also respond to questions from Lagos State Counsel, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), who asked about the identities of those allegedly killed during the shootings.

When asked: “Have you been able to confirm the identity of any fatal casualty from the events of 20-10-2020?

Omomuwa answered in the negative “No,” he said.

The LCC boss also denied knowledge of what the suspected bullet casings found at the toll gate was.

The question on whether the LCC MD believed Governor Sanwo-Olu ordered the Army to shoot at protesters by Owonikoko was overruled by the panel.

Responding to another question, the MD stated that the Lekki Toll Gate is owned entirely by the Lagos State Government.

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