Moscow’s main state television channel on Thursday presented still images taken from the CCTV footage showing two pedestrians in the London-bound car of a stolen lorry in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria, shot dead by Nigerian Customs Service officers.
Zuri Daniels and Ekerete Ogwu, both 20 years old, died after being shot with live ammunition in the stomach and groin, respectively, by Customs officers in a pick-up truck Saturday. In the CCTV stills, one of the men is visible for the first time since the killings, alive. That photograph suggests the lorry driver deliberately drove through barriers to avoid arrest and that the two Nigerian customs officers open fire on them, as has been previously reported.
Nigerian police on Sunday said the CCTV stills in which the two men can be seen alive show that they had attempted to climb over the barrier after the crossing. That contradicts a Nigerian Customs Service statement that the men panicked and tried to escape. The government on Tuesday announced an interim inquiry into the shooting.
Some CCTV footage from the February 12 shooting has been released by CCTV and shows Nigerian customs officers causing the carnage by shooting into the air. There has been no mention of live ammunition in that footage and it is not clear whether the man in the CCTV stills was a customs officer or an unarmed commuter.
Nigerian customs service spokesperson Emmanuel Ojukwu on Thursday issued a statement denouncing “some channels of media reporting” and demanded the deletion of the CCTV footage to comply with the interim inquiry.
The timing of the CCTV’s release at a time when the government is establishing the inquiry has attracted criticism. The uniformed Nigerian customs officers appear to be driving around in unmarked trucks wearing only baseball caps, with a journalist in the area taking photographs of their vehicle before they sped off.
AFP reported on Monday that it had received a video of two people climbing over the concrete barrier while an Independent Corrupt Practices Commission officer was taking photographs.
There is no record of who shot them. In the CCTV stills, at least one gun is visible inside the lorry, which according to KNEWS 4 reported was “in other words, armed and high-powered weapons.”
The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission has said it has launched an investigation into the death of the two men, the shooting of the unarmed Nigerian policemen, and “all relevant authorities” for failing to take “necessary measures” against customs officers who drove their lorry through roadblocks without authority on February 12.
Ojukwu told AFP that they had tried to escape because they were armed and that the two women were “put in the line of fire.” A witness described the incident as a “confrontation” and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission report says witnesses saw two men jump onto the roof of the lorry “with their arms raised in an aggressive stance.”
In an apparent acknowledgement of the lax use of force in Nigeria, Ojukwu on Thursday said that the “experience of Nigerian customs and other customs officials who were on duty at the time of the incident in order to prevent loss of lives which resulted in loss of two lives, should be commended.”
The Nigerian government on Monday announced an interim inquiry into the shooting, its first statement on the case since the two deaths. The full inquiry was announced by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday, a day after his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, said he would not play a role in the inquiry because his cousin had died.
Some Nigerian security experts have called for criminal charges to be filed against the Customs officers who opened fire on the lorry at the Toll Gate, citing “callous disregard for the lives of citizens” in the past.
Read this September 2016 profile of the gang that stole a lorry at gunpoint: