‘Why Lekki tollgate surveillance camera stopped working’


November 4, 2020

Robert Egbe


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, said on Tuesday.
He said the audio recorder on the camera was not activated throughout the recording or before because it was only used for traffic purposes and not for surveillance.
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 said.
LCC operates the plaza.
Omomuwa, who said the LCC always kept the camera functional, did not say whether it was a manual or technical interference.
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.
Lagos State Counsel, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), further queried Omomuwa on the identities of those allegedly killed during the shootings.
He asked: “Have you been able to confirm the identity of any fatal casualty from the events of 20-10-2020?
“No,” said Omomuwa.
Owonikoko referred to the suspected bullet casings found at the toll gate, wondering whether the witness could confirm what it was. According to Owonikoko, they still did not know what that was.

He further inquired whether the LCC MD believed Governor Sanwo-Olu ordered the Army to shoot at protesters, but the panel overruled the lawyer’s question, noting that the panel needed facts, rather than opinion.
Responding to another question, the MD stated that the Lekki Toll Gate is owned entirely by the Lagos State Government.
The panel also declined a request by the company to “take back possession” of the tollgate.
Responding to an application, Panel Chairman judge emeritus Doris Okuwobi, in a short ruling said the tollgate plaza would remain closed.
The judge said the panel might need to pay another visit to the tollgate after watching the video footage from a surveillance camera submitted by the LCC.
Seriki had urged the panel to allow the firm “take possession” of the tollgate plaza to evaluate the level of damage for the purpose insurance claims.
Seriki was reinforcing an earlier request at the proceeding by the LCC Managing Director, Abayomi Omomuwa, who said except last Friday when he led the panel on a visit to the toll plaza, the place had been inaccessible to LCC management.
Omomuwa said from what he saw during last Friday visit, the level of damage was so much, it would take LCC not less than six months to fix the plaza.
Also, the panels in Edo and Niger states were inaugurated yesterday in Benin and Minna, the states’ capitals.
The Imo State panel on Tuesday said it received only twon petitions it received from the public.
It urged the residents to use the opportunity provided by its sittings to submit their petitions on police brutality.

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