How do we even begin to unpack the events of the last two weeks, especially the shocking incident at Lekki?
Where do we start from?
My mind is all over the place. I can’t fixate on one thing for long because so many things are happening at once. One thing we can all agree on is that the #ENDSARS protests in Nigeria is an epochal event in the history of this country.
What started as an online protest has morphed into a global movement that has turned the spotlight on all that is wrong in our country. Indeed, it has exposed beyond doubt the mettle of our leaders.
But even more frightening is the fact that the hurt, the anger and the poverty that has been bubbling under the crust of ‘resilient Nigerian’ has overflowed.
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I am not sure I have ever seen Nigeria like this.
First, the #ENDSARS protest did not open a can of worms; it opened a deep drum of venomous snakes. No one can deny that this country has a huge problem with police brutality. We just learned to cope. The impunity increased to the point that Nigerians were getting robbed; assaulted, kidnapped, and even killed by these officials and nothing was happening.
The persistence, the organization and the insistence on peace of this protest impressed all Nigerians. However, it angered the government. The movement was gaining momentum in all generations. Certainly, Nigerians had had enough. After days of protesting peacefully, obvious attempts were made to incite violence. This was clear to everyone.
The protests were embarrassing to the government and the youth were not accepting lip service. In fact, they did not trust that the government had the will to do something.
Suddenly “thugs” and ‘‘hoodlums” changed the momentum of things. Suddenly, curfews were being declared in some states; an easily transparent ploy to get protesters off the streets.
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There had been instances of inexplicable violence against protesters in which lives had been claimed. Jimoh Isiaq, an onlooker, who was killed in Ogbomosho, Oyo State. Okechukwu Iloamuazor was killed in Surulere, Lagos State.
However, the violence was never initiated by the protesters.
On the 20th of October 2020, things took a dastardly turn at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State.
At about noon, the governor of Lagos State, Jide Sanwo-Olu declared a 24hr curfew because apparently; the protest had been hijacked by hoodlums. By evening, my Twitter feed exploded with reports of soldiers arriving at the Lekki Toll Gate. There were claims of disabled CCTV cameras and then the whole place was plunged in darkness.
Soon after, soldiers began shooting at protesters. I don’t want to use the ‘alleged’. Am not a traditional journalist. I am an ordinary citizen who speaks from her personal deductions. From all that was reported that day; soldiers of the Nigerian Army opened fire at unarmed protesters who were singing the national anthem and waving their flags.
I saw messages on Instagram to tune into DJ Snitch’s live Instagram feed. What I saw shocked me. Indeed, our soldiers had decided to ‘disperse’ protesters at Lekki by shooting live ammunition at them.
This stunned me.
A country that has been riddled with violence by terrorists, kidnappers and robbers was witnessing a massacre in the hands of soldiers.
Then was the long wait for an uninspired address by the president; who totally ignored that unarmed protesters were barricaded and shot at. Then the army denied being there.
Thereafter, the governor claimed forces beyond his control ordered the shooting.
Then the Army claimed that videos were photoshopped and that it did not happen. Then suddenly, something that we had witnessed on Instagram became debatable.
The governor who initially claimed that no one had died eventually updated, saying one person had died. People began to doubt the veracity of the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre.
Where are the parents mourning the people that had been killed?
Who are the people that died?
“Yes, people were injured but was there really a massacre?’’
“Are you sure soldiers picked up dead bodies? Where is the proof?”
I cannot even begin to wrap my head around this. The shooting in Lekki kept on sporadically till morning. There were so many videos to this effect.
Someone ordered soldiers out of the barracks. Someone gave orders to plunge the place in darkness to obscure the crime they were about to commit. Also, someone gave orders to fire at unarmed protesters.
This is something that must be addressed. This cannot be swept under the carpet.
I assume that our Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces alone has the power to command such a show of force.
If he didn’t do it, then why isn’t whoever is responsible for this being called to book? Is this truly a democracy?
Who is in charge of this country and why is no one taking responsibility?
No one has been arrested. No one has been dismissed.
Our soldiers rained live rounds on fellow citizens that were not hostile, yet no answers have been given.
The Jagaban of Lagos tried to deflect by focusing on the protesters. Since he cannot deny that firing happened. He asked who the ‘characters’ were and what they were doing there. This implies that they deserved what happened to them.
I am just stunned. Stunned and scared.
If there is no attempt to get to the bottom of what happened in Lekki and punishing the architects; any wonder, why a policeman would brag: “I will shoot you and nothing will happen?”
Something is very wrong.
But our politicians probably think that it is business as usual.
In fact, Nigeria is stepping into dangerous unchartered territory.
With the mobs we saw raiding warehouses, I assure you that if they had come across a politician; they would have decapitated him/her and danced with the head.
People are angry.
People are hungry.
But first things first.
Who ordered the killings in Lekki?
Let us start there.