At the ongoing hearing of the Lagos State Judicial Panel investigating abuses by the police, a trauma and orthopedic surgeon with Reddington Hospital in Lekki, Lagos, Dr. Babajide Lawson, gave details of how the hospital on the night of October 20, 2020, was overwhelmed by the number of wounded persons rushed in.
He said due to the large number of cases he had to make a decision to transfer some of the wounded patients to the Victoria Island branch to help in the treatment of the patients.
As the hospital’s surgeon in charge of trauma, Dr. Babajide Lawson noted that he had a hectic evening, shuttling between the Lekki and Ikoyi branches of the hospital, attending to injured patients.
Lawson said some of the injured persons presented “entry and exit” bullet wounds.
The surgeon gave this account on Saturday when he appeared before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the alleged killing of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20 last year.
While youths, who participated in the protest at the tollgate, had maintained that soldiers opened fire on protesters and killed many, the military had repeatedly denied the allegation.
The Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo, who had appeared before the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel to defend the military, had said that soldiers only fired blank bullets into the air to scare off the protesters.
Taiwo said though some of the soldiers carried live bullets, in accordance with military rule of engagement, they didn’t use live bullets on anyone.
But some protesters filed petitions before the judicial panel, giving detailed accounts of how soldiers allegedly killed many protesters and took away their corpses.
The Reddington surgeon appeared before the panel on Saturday in response to a summons issued on the hospital.
Giving his account of events of that night, the surgeon told the panel, “Being in charge of trauma means anybody that is involved in any form of traumatic injury, accident, gunshot and others, will have to go through me first. I saw a couple of them, the ones that needed admission, I admitted and the ones that did not were taken care of.
“The thing is on that October 20, a lot of patients presented at the Lekki office, that’s the Lekki hospital. I was shuttling between there and the VI office, which I represent.
“Later on the night of 20th, I also went to the Lekki office to assess and determine what amount of assistance they would require from me. I transferred some of the patients from the Lekki Hospital to the VI office.
“On the first night, there were about six patients that I saw, subsequently, other patients came, trickled in, as days continued.”
During cross-examination, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, representing some #EndSARS protesters, who claimed to have been shot by soldiers, told the surgeon that one of his clients, Samuel Asola, was treated at the Reddington hospital but his medical report was missing from those submitted by the hospital to the panel.
Responding to the SAN, the surgeon said, “On the night of this event, in the Lekki facility, when patients were brought in, it was a mass gathering situation in which case you have a large number of people presenting at the same time, literarily overwhelming the facility.
“In that kind of situation, there are lots of cases that might be compromised. If this patient says he was treated at the hospital, he can present at the hospital and get a medical report.”
When the SAN questioned the surgeon on why the hospital failed to remove the pellet lodged in the abdomen of one of the treated protesters, Nnaji Mabel, Lawson said, “As indicated in the report, we did not extract the pellet.
“I admitted the responsibility, we reviewed her CT and records, we determined that she did not need anything extensive, and she was treated and allowed to go.”