Friday, April 12, 2024

#LekkiMassacre: #EndSARS group raises four questions Nigerian government must answer

Beyond #5For5, #EndSARS Policy Team also seeks resolution of three other issues around police response to the historic campaign.

• November 3, 2020
#EndSARS protest used to illustrate the story
#EndSARS protest used to illustrate the story

In the wake of the carnage now tragically memoralised as #TheLekkiMassacre and several untruths about the nature of the #EndSARS protests which unfortunately culminated in the sad event of Tuesday evening, it is imperative that we re-emphasise the peaceful nature of the protests.

Nigerians all over the country and around the world, of their own volition, came together to request an end to the state backed oppressions of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad – SARS. Our requests to this end were listed on the #5For5 which was widely published and made known to governments at state and federal levels.

Unfortunately, the federal government chose to pay scant regard to these demands, announcing for the umpteenth time the disbandment of SARS and the immediate formation of SWAT. As a result of this lack of good faith by the government,
the protests continued.

On October 20, 2020 at around 18:50 WAT, a gathering of protestors who had been peacefully occupying the plaza were set upon by soldiers of the Nigerian Army. The world watched live as military personnel opened fire on Nigerian youth seeking an end to widespread police brutality.

Contrary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s statement on October 21 that there were ‘no fatalities’, Nigeria and the world bore witness to bloodied bodies of young Nigerians strewn across the plaza roads.

We reject without reservation the argument that the announcement of a curfew, that commenced at 16:00 then extended post the firing of the first shot by the military to 21:00, justified the blood letting that took place on that day.

We must also remember that thugs were sicced on protestors at the Aluasa Government Complex, which prompted the hiring of private security guards to secure the safety of all concerned. We wish to bring it to the notice of Nigerians that despite a
few of these assailants being identified on camera, the Lagos state government has yet to apprehend any of them.

Furthermore, armed attackers – some sighted in police vehicles – were also loosed on protestors in Abuja, where one Nigerian protestor lost his life as a result and private property destroyed, all in a bid to wickedly derail the
protest.

We denounce any and all attempts by selfish and malign actors to attribute the breakdown in law and order to the protests, we were and remained peaceful for the duration of our street marches.

The Nigerian government should instead look inward because Nigerians would like to know how in the midst of heightened security, looting and burning was able to go on unabated all over the country, even as state governments declared dusk till dawn
curfews. The government was remiss in its primary duty to protect lives and properties, not only on October 20, 2020, but in the days that followed.

Our street protests were halted, not out of fear but because we are law-abiding citizens which is in line with the peaceful nature of our demands and our overall aim of making Nigerian a better place for all.

Let us be unequivocal, as long as the injustices that necessitated the protests remain, Nigerian youth reserve our constitutional right to return to the streets. President Buhari in his address on October 22, 2020 alluded to his need to show strength, well, we wish to remind the president that the right to demand better from leaders is the bedrock of democracy – his job is not to patronise or attempt to silence us with piecemeal offerings of Tradermonies, we need fundamental change that’ll set this country on the right course.

In addition to the 5 For 5 demands that the Nigerian government is already aware of, we wish to add the following demands:

● Investigation and apprehension of all culpable actors in the murders and maimings of our brothers and sisters in Abuja, Lekki, Alausa and Ogbomosho.

● An investigation into the hiring of armed assailants in Abuja, Enugu and Lagos.

● An investigation into the opening of fire by police on unarmed protestors in Awkuzu.

Furthermore, at no point did the #EndSARS movement call for regime change, we accept and acknowledge that Nigeria is in a democratic dispensation, in fact, our courage to march was predicated on our democratically assured constitutional rights – the right to peaceful assembly and the right to petition our government.

Those who sought to use our peaceful gatherings for their own underhanded means were ejected from protests and roundly denounced by Nigerians on and offline, evidence of this is publicly available.

As opposed to engaging in conjecture and innuendoes on what the protestors want, the government needs only listen to its citizens; it is there in our complaints online, in newspapers and on the streets. There is no hidden hand, no unknown motive, the
government needs not tie itself in knots trying to decipher codes and guess motives, we were clear in our #5For5 and continue to be clear – #EndSARS!

In light of above, the government has a few questions to answer concerning the murders of unarmed protestors who were seated, waving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem:

● Who ordered the removal of CCTV cameras around the Toll Plaza?

● Why were the lights at the Toll Plaza turned off?

● On whose command was the military deployed to the peaceful sit-in at the
Plaza?

● Who ordered soldiers to open fire on unarmed protestors? Justice for all our fallen fellow protestors, those whose names we know and those whose fate is yet to come to light.

The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. – Martin Luther King.

Signed:
End SARS Policy Team
@EndSARSPolicy.

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