Catherine Udeh, better known as DJ Switch, has given details of what transpired when soldiers and security agencies confronted ENDSARS protesters at Lekki tollgate in Lagos on Tuesday night.
Denials have come from several quarters insisting no security deployment was ordered to the site, and discounting the casualty figures for the night.
She has gone public for the first time since the incident on her Instagram account to retell her experience.
“People were falling left and right,” she said in the stream. “Yes, there were soldiers. The SARS people we were talking about also came, maybe 45 minutes after the soldiers left. People were teargassed. it was like Cotonou pepper mixed with acid.”
DJ Switch was on Instagram livestream relaying events at the site Tuesday night until her battery ran out. In the video, injuries to her face are still visible, and she has a bandage on the bridge of her nose.
Her stream from Tuesday night has become a rallying point for many identifying with the incident.
Udeh addressed counterclaims to the experiences related by protesters at the scene.
“To our leaders, I urge you: please do not minimise the suffering of families, do not insult the grief of Nigerians, do not insult the intelligence of Nigerians, do not insult the pain families are facing,” said the survivor.
There have been controversies surrounding the incident—that CCTV cameras were taken down, and lights were turned out in preparation for what has been called the “Lekki shooting”.
“We were running,” she recalled the chaos at the scene.
“We would run and come back. And the only thing we fought with was our flags. We’d sit on the floor and raise our hands, waving our flags and singing the national anthem. That’s all we had.
“They put off the lights. Even if there is no power, on a good day in that axis there is always light at the toll gate. There was no light, the light was off, the street lights were off. it was pitch black.
“A boy jumped on me and was shouting, ‘cover her, cover her’. I didn’t even understand why he did that. they shot that boy on my back.
She survived. She recalls falling down and remembers seeing soldiers scampering to pick up spent shells.
She said protesters also ran around to pick shells “because we wanted proof.”
On her video, she displays at least 20 spent shells she collected on the night.
“One landed next to my ear. One was taken out of someone’s lap,” she said.
“The military was there on Nigerian soil killing Nigerian citizens. the police and their SARS like people came doing the same thing, aiming and shooting. they were pointing the guns at us and shooting live bullets. who takes live bullets to a protest? who does that?” Her voice choked with tears, and she paused.
“We carried dead bodies and dropped them at the feet of the soldiers so that they could see what they did to us. when I asked their unit commander why are you killing us. I wish we didn’t do that; I wish we kept the bodies because they ended up throwing the bodies in their van. this was up until the next morning.
Counted 15 bodies
The absence of bodies has made actual casualty figures uncertain.
“When I was doing the live, seven people had died. when my battery died, we had counted about 15 people I don’t know if it was more than that. we had a lot of people that had stray bullet wounds, gunshot wounds and all that.
“People did die it wasn’t photoshopped. I must be a tech genius to have photoshopped a live feed,” she said, referring to claims that have branded her video as fake news online.
ENDSARS movement against police brutality was hijacked by hoodlums to cause chaos since Tuesday, resulting in arsons, looking and destruction of public and private properties in states across the different.
“We must continue to move. If we stop, I swear it will probably be another 60 years before we talk about this again. we must continue but we must continue peacefully.
“I condemn any sort of violence. I condemn the burning of buses or people’s livelihood. I know we are very angry but the most powerful weapon we have is peace.
“We need accountability. People have to brought to book. If you don’t bring people to book, it will continue.”
Copyright Daily Trust