As we await #EndSARS white paper in Lagos, will Sanwo-Olu fail Nigerian youth?
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is in the eyes of the storm and this is not farfetched. In October 2020, Nigeria witnessed one of its largest protests in history. The #EndSARS protest against Police brutality in general and the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad renowned for massive human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings in particular.
The protest, which began on October 8, 2020, and lingered peacefully for days, ended on a bloody note in the evening of October 20, 2020, when military men stormed the Lekki Tollgate under the cover of darkness to shoot at protesters who were sitting down and waving the Nigerian flag while singing the National Anthem — killing and injuring many of them in the process.
The shooting, which has now been declared as a massacre by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by Mr Sanwo-Olu, has cast a blight on the state and the governor’s personality. Now the members of the inquiry panel said he called in the soldiers that carried out the massacre of his state’s residents.
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry under the leadership of Justice Doris Okuwobi on Monday, November 15, 2021, submitted its report after more than one year of sitting to the governor at his office in Alausa. While receiving the report, the state governor commended the panel and immediately set up a four-man committee to produce the whitepaper of the report for the state to act on. This committee led by Lagos State Attorney-General Moyosore Onigbanjo has a 14 days’ deadline to produce the white paper.
As we approach November 29, 2021, it is important to remind Mr Sanwo-Olu to live up to his words and produce the white paper as all eyes are on him. The #EndSARS was more than a protest: it was a movement against bad governance, poverty and hunger that has held down the youth across the country. These young individuals abandoned by the government chose other legitimate means like tech, crypto, fashion, entertainment, among others, to earn a living were subjected to various forms of abuses by SARS operatives for decades preceding the protest.
There is an existing wide gap of trust between the leaders and the led in Nigeria and Lagos State. A quick win to closing that gap is the timely production of the white paper upon deadline on November 29, hoping it would engender full implementation of the recommendations. Lagos cannot afford to fail its youth at this point, considering that the report of the panel is now accessible to all Lagosians.
Similar reports have in the past been submitted to authorities at both state and federal levels across the country with no positive outcome. However, Nigerian youths, with keen observations from across the world, won’t allow this to happen to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry’s report on the Lekki killings. The report holds a key promise for justice, peace and progress, which are important for a democratic society. While we await Onigbanjo White Paper Committee’s report, I ask: will Sanwo-Olu fail the youth?
Adesina Tosin Nathaniel
Host @ActivismSpaces on Twitter
November 17, 2021.
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