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OPINION: It’s time to move on as Lagos issues #EndSARS White Paper



This might be an unpopular opinion among Nigerian youths but the need to heal and move on for the sake of societal stability cannot be overemphasised in the aftermath of the publication of the #EndSARS White Paper extrapolated from the ‘leaked’ report tendered by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Police brutalities.

Criticisms had trailed the report which was allegedly leaked about a week ago with the Federal Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, saying the report by the panel was riddled with so many errors and inconsistencies.

Reacting to the shooting at the Lekki Toll Gate, the minister said: “We reject the notion that our soldiers and policemen massacred innocent Nigerians at the Lekki Tollgate”.

He also asked relatives of the victims to come forward with evidence, saying that “any parent who is afraid to testify about the death of his or her child is not worthy to be called a parent”.

This was at variance with the findings of the panel which recommended a monument memorialising the lives lost and those injured at the Lekki Toll Gate with the names inscribed on it.

However, the Lagos State Government rejected the recommendations saying it “is not acceptable to it because it is unable to accept the finding that nine people died at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.”

It also noted that there was no massacre at Lekki Toll Gate, contextual or otherwise. It adds that “the finding of the JPI that nine people died from gunshots fired by the Military are based on assumptions and speculations.”

It is noteworthy that the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a statement before the publication of the White Paper on Tuesday, November 30, extolled the virtues and integrity of the members of the panel towards uncovering the unsavory circumstances that led to the death of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.

“As a matter of good faith and a sincere commitment to uncovering the truth, we constituted a panel of individuals that we believed were independent, credible, and representative of the various stakeholder community interested in the movement against police brutality.

“Apart from the Chairman of the panel being a respected retired jurist, various stakeholders including the youths, #EndSars protesters, the police, and civil society groups were represented on the panel.

“I am sure no member of the panel can claim that the state government made any attempt to influence them in any way throughout the duration of its sitting,” the Governor stated.

This huge trust wielded in the panel by the Governor must have been mere rhetorics considering the rejection of 21 out of the 32 recommendations advocated, with the issue of the number of deaths at the Lekki Toll Gate, a burning point amongst the various stakeholders.

In retrospect, the details of the White Paper must have been a fait accompli considering the stance of the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government over the Lekki incident; which was further reinforced by the glaring inconsistencies contained in the initial report which was leaked.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, nonetheless, expressed regrets at the leakage of the report which undermined the integrity of the panel and possibly influenced the final verdict as contained in the White Paper.

“It is however regrettable that the panel’s work and the leakage of an unauthorized version of the report have generated much tension. Sadly, a deep wound has been reopened.

“The heated exchanges among various shades of opinion on the report have unfortunately put us all at the risk of missing the larger picture; the fact that what we all seek in common is a land in which we are all safe and secure, law enforcement agents are trusted, and justice is guaranteed for all,” Sanwo-Olu stated.

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Kudos must, however, be given to the Lagos State Government who ensured the panel worked unhindered while paying huge amounts in compensations to verifiable victims of police brutalities; even police personnel who were affected were compensated.

The onus is on all stakeholders to close ranks and learn from the events of the #EndSARS in order to entrench a thriving atmosphere with the Lagos State Government via a statement by its Attorney-General, Moyosore Onigbanjo appealing to civil society stakeholders to partake in the upcoming ‘Peace Walk’ initiated by Governor Sanwo-Olu for continuous engagement.

“The Peace Walk showed that the Government wanted to recognise the grouses of the youth; recall the Gov supported the #EndSARS protests being the first to institute the judicial panel. The Govt is trying to reconcile all stakeholders. When they read the White Paper, we hope they will change their minds in order to understand the fairness of the LASG.

“The Govt will try to persuade members of the civil society over participation in the peace walk since it is a continuous engagement. All the LASG want is an enabling and thriving society for all the residents,” he said.

It is time for everyone to close ranks for the sake of peace and unity.

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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