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OPINION…#EndSARS Massacre: Matters Arising!



More than a year ago an unprecedented mini-revolution took place in Nigeria whose minimal success far outweighed its failure. Last year October thousands of young and mobile Nigerians took to the streets (especially in the southern part of the country) protesting peacefully against the storied atrocities of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). SARS, prior to its forced disbandment, had become a killing human machine, torturing, maiming, extorting and brutally executing many Nigerians with impunity.

The notorious squad had killed thousands extra-judicially extorting billions of Naira after organized abductions. They became ‘professionals’ involved in settling land disputes and civil frictions. They mounted roadblocks at wee hours of the night framing folks up and dispossessing them of their valuable material possessions.

The #EndSARS massive demonstrations across southern cities jolted the Muhammadu Buhari repressive oppressive administration into tepid actions. SARS was summarily banned and other concessions were made on paper towards reforming the corrupt ineffective federal police force.

However, as the determined non-violent protesters were insisting for more concessions and reforms, unsatisfied with the federal government’s measures put in place to curb the excesses of the security agencies, a massacre happened on the 20th day of October last year culminating in an anti-climax. More than a dozen folks united by a common cause were brutally attacked by soldiers at Lekki Toll-Gate Plaza in Lagos!

One report online then had alleged how at least 20 bodies of victims massacred by operatives of the Nigerian Army were secretly moved to the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) mortuary in Yaba. When civilian democratic authorities at the state or federal levels invited over a killing squad to quell a civilian uprising nothing less could have been expected.

Soon after the bloody scene unfolded with videos uploaded online there was fire and fury on the streets of Lagos with irate youths going on a rampage destroying some corporate concerns of the Lagos omnipotent godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. His television and newspaper entreprises were visited with violence and arson.

Following the global condemnations that greeted the #EndSARS bloody ending the Lagos State Government led by Babajide Sanwo-Olu inaugurated the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate the gory incident. And recently the panel headed by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi submitted a 309-paged report to the state government after months of sitting.

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The Panel found that there was indeed an invitation of the Nigerian Army to Lagos State made by the Lagos State Government through the Governor before the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army deployed its soldiers to the Lekki Toll Plaza that fateful night. The CCTV monitoring camera and electricity were disabled criminally in order to cover up the massacre. The zombie soldiers equally prevented ambulances from gaining access into the horrific scene thereby committing a criminal offense.

According to the report “At the Lekki Toll Gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed helpless and defenseless protesters, without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian Flag and singing the National Anthem and the manner of assault and killing could in context be described as a massacre”. It concluded unambiguously by stating that the massacre was “unwarranted, excessive, provocative and unjustifiable in the circumstances of the state of the protests which was peaceful and orderly.”

The Cable News Network (CNN) in America and Amnesty International (AI) had at various times released reports indicating that dozens were brutally killed and scores more wounded at Lekki toll-gate facility in Lagos. The final report of the Panel had vindicated their positions.

The villain of the unfortunate incident at Lekki, Lagos, more than any other state actor, remains the infamous voluble Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. ‘Liar’ Mohammed had at various times lampooned those insisting that a massacre took place at Lekki.

The Minister had attacked the courageous lady, DJ Switch, who filmed the massacre as it unfolded asking furiously why she was on the run. He wrote official protest letter to the editorial management of the Atlanta-based CNN questioning their journalistic standards. He claimed wildly that “armed hoodlums invaded the Lekki Toll Gate that night, and could have hit any of the protesters as they shot sporadically.”

Mohammed the liar had challenged Amnesty International to prove that 12 people were killed at the tollgate saying shamefully that the credible human rights organisation was gradually losing credibility. But we all know that AI and CNN are more credible than a thousand Lai Mohammeds.

Describing the Lekki heart-breaking incident as a “phantom massacre” ‘Goebbels’ Mohammed had said recently that “One year later, and despite ample opportunities for the families of those allegedly killed and those alleging a massacre to present evidence, there has been none: No bodies, no families, no convincing evidence, nothing!”

With mendacious men like Lai Mohammed, Shehu Garba and Femi Adesina in Buhari’s media and publicity cabinet then no one needs to search far to find Paul Joseph Goebbels defending the indefensible and ‘murdering’ truth.

We had thought we have seen the very worst even during military dictatorships of the past but now, under an abused democracy, these men have effortfully taken us all to a new low in terms of irresponsible propaganda and unpatriotic rhetorics.

Yet, we are convinced that no matter how tyranny tries to suppress the truth or a revolt whose time has come truth would ultimately triumph over half-truths and mendacity. And revolution would eventually happen to clean the Augean stable!

The gruesome killing of the innocent youths, our compatriots, must not go unpunished! Those indicted must be arrested and prosecuted so that justice would be served on the fallen heroes and heroines.

May their souls find eternal repose!

AUTHOR: Ozodinukwe Okenwa

Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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