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EndSARS: We are where we were and then, questions for Gbajabiamila!

On 20/10/20, while we were still basking in the euphoria of our 60th independence anniversary celebrations, our defenseless youths, who were passionately singing our national anthem and patriotically waving our three-coloured flag (Green-White-Green: abi no be three?) were mowed down by unknown soldiers at Lekki.  Their offense? They had the guts to say enough is enough. They demanded that the excesses of our police officers, who were being paid to protect them, be stopped thenceforth.

The Lekki affair was painful and shameful, especially given the extent to which the government went to change the narrative. The great Lai called it the first massacre without corpses; our usually hardworking Governor Sanwo-Olu denied any knowledge of how the soldiers came calling; the soldiers said they never left their barracks on that day. Eventually they said they were there but that they did not shoot and then that they shot but did not kill anybody. Eventually it  was obvious that Sanwo-Olu invited the soldiers. The Lagos EndSARS Panel eventually admitted autopsy reports  of 99 people killed during that period , at least 3 of whom were killed in Lekki, from Prof Obafunwa, of LASUTH. The Nigerian Police Force (who put force in their name sef?) went to court to challenge the establishment of EndSARS panels and then turned round to deny instituting the court case.  Lagos and other parts of Nigeria were brought to a standstill. Then the protests were infiltrated by mobilized area boys and then the looting and mayhem started and then, what started peacefully ended up anarchically.

It was when I heard DJ Switch, speaking to a global audience on the Lekki Massacre last week that I remembered that it was already 1 year gone. Incidentally, that same day, I read about the regrets of Lagos State Government concerning the amount they had lost to the closure of blooded Lekki TollGate1 and how the accursed monument was being repaired for reentry to the money mining business.

That same last week, some commentators on the UGM recrudescence in Anambra State reminded us of how government-people infiltrated the peaceful EndSARS affair with street urchins and then turned round to use the pickaxe  on the ant because the protest had been hijacked. The police had also warned that nobody should think of an anniversary protest while Sowore, who professionally fishes in troubled waters (or even troubling the calm waters before going a-fishing), had assured that there would be an anniversary protest. However, the Lagos Police Command made a U-turn but warned against road closures. However, protest or not, the Lekki Massacre Anniversary must be observed. This intervention is my own way of observing the anniversary.

Read Also: #EndSARS anniversary: Youths defy police warning in Ibadan, hold peaceful protest

My deep concerns about EndSARS have led to five previous interventions: A tale of two wars: War against Coro and War against SARS ( subtitled: And then from SARS to SWAT… Just like that (16/10/20); EndSARS: No eye had seen and no ear has heard(22/10/21); A nation in turmoil, a president who doesn’t speak and giving the monkey a cup of water(29/10/20), Worrisome developments post EndSARS: An elders proverbial analysis ( 19/11/20) and A Toxonomy of looters, rioters and arsonists( ND). In this sixt intervention, I will briefly examine EndSARS-related developments, pass a verdict and end with a question for Speaker Gbajabiamila.

An x-ray of the media reports (my usual front-page analysis) and collation of  Nigerians experiences with our security forces has shown that  the people involved (security forces) have grown more brazen in their wickedness and oppressiveness, and that the people in power had just paid lip service to addressing the End-SARS concerns. Last week, a parent asked us to join him in thanking God because his son, who just finished university education, was accused of being an UGM and asked to pay some millions or be ‘wasted’. They ended up paying N200000 before the police discovered that he was not an UGM and generously gave the boy N10,000 for transport. The same last week, as I was going home from work, the policemen on Ago Iwoye-Ijebuode route stopped a car, asked a young boy (obviously a student) to disembark, marched him to a corner where they parked their ‘mobile business office’, and ordered the driver to leave.

EndSARS

On 10/7/21, Sahara Reporters released the identities of 9 End-SARSers still languishing in various Lagos detention facilities while one Nicholas Mbah, an EndSARS detention alumnus, (detained from 5/11/20 to 15/6/21), alleged that at least 500 of his comrades were at Kirikiri. Of course, we are aware of the case of Kemisola Oguniyi, who gave birth in prison. She was eventually given N10m bail. The only chaos experienced by the Lagos EndSARS Panel was when it decreed that the Lekki Toll Gate 1 should be reopened, which led to some protests during which more protesters, including Macroni( Febo Adebayo) were arrested and rough-handled.

Even beyond EndSARS, the highhandedness of our friends, the Police, continued unabated.   Instances include killing of 2 and detaining 12 other ‘protesters’ at College of Education, Gidan Waya Kaduna; torturing of  Dauda Danladi by the Bauchi Police Command, arrest and assault of Solomon Odeniyi, of Punch together with other journalists for daring to cover developments in the Dunamis Church, arrests of 6 activists  and  a blind Saxophonist. Samuel Iwatonaiye  for wearing BMG T-Shirts ( BMG? Buhari Must Go!). The thing even got close to me when policemen murdered one Okada-man at Igbo-Ukwu, which led to ‘akshion’ and the torching of the police station, which had just been upgraded through communal efforts. Other instances include  the murder of a  a Keke driver in Rukpokwu , PH over N100 bribe;( yes; just N100) shooting at traders in Bayelsa  for causing traffic snarl, arresting an EndSARS WhatsApp administrator in Osun State and murder of a wedding guest, Judi Oguzie in Imo State. Soldiers are also ‘doing well’ as they brutalized a lady in Ota axis of Ogun State for indecent dressing, roughened up another young man, Godson, at Asaba for no apparent cause, a fate that befell Bolade Adedeji, a physically challenged compatriot in the hands of a female soldier at Oke-Itunu, Ibadan on 4/12/21.   They also mercilessly flogged Olaide Idowu in the Sangotedo area of Lagos for failure to greet them( na by force?) while the  the latest and viral case was that of , Lt Chika Anele dehumanizing Ifeyinwa Ezeiruaku a female Corper  for exchanging pleasantries with male  soldier.  One was flogged for not greeting while another was humiliated for greeting! Head or tail, idle civilians are the losers. In May 2021, the NLC reported that El-Rufai hired 50 truckloads of thugs, who were empowered with 500 apiece, to disrupt their protests. This affirmed one of the sources of thugs who had infiltrated the EndSars movement. In a strange twist, Sowore was accused of privatizing EndSARS proceeds while Canada refused to grant asylum to a SARS Officer, citing their highhandedness. Seun Kuti and his group, MOP, had also been harassed. Even vigilante people have joined in this highhandedness as one Miss Sovereignty Iteregbe was shot dead by a vigilante member in front of her mother, in Udu, Delta State for daring to exchange words with him.

We are also aware how the government, which set up panels to assuage the EndSARS rage, went around to freeze the EndSARSers accounts. Godwin Emefiele accused them of economic sabotage while Justice  Tsoho declared authoritatively that the closure of EndSARS related accounts saved the economy and strengthened the Naira against the Dollar. A judicial economist! I don’t know what both of them will be saying now that the Dollar is going for N600 apiece. Passports of others were also seized. One attention seeking Adamu Garba said EnSARS was a failed Biafran movement while PMB that promised to fulfill the demands of the EndSARsers and even apologized to them( after Prof Osinbajo had done so earlier) turned around to say that it was an attempt to topple his government.

On top of all these, Buratai, the former Chief of Army Staff and now an honourable diplomat declared that his spiritual warfare strategy prevented  deaths at the Lekki Tollgate while  Femi Adesina, who has been saying what he has been paid to say, claimed  that we were lucky because PMB exercised the patience and tolerance of a father. Assuming he exercised any patience and tolerance, what of his foot soldiers like Femi Adesina and Lai Mohammed? How patiently and tolerantly did they behave in those days of rage?

Well, my verdict is that we are where we were. The spirit of SARS was not exorcised. The snake was just rattled and it recoiled and came back with vengeance. There were some motions but not much movement. The various EndSARs panels sat forthrightly, awarded monetary compensations  and castigated some  guilty parties. But what happened to the Military, which along the line got tired of telling their lies and decamped outrightly for the Lagos Commission? A repeat of the Oputa Panel scenario in which some people decided not to attend and nothing happened? The Military and Police authorities have also been more forthcoming in condemning acts of brigandage and gangsterism of their members, arresting some of the culprits and promising to leave no stone unturned in meting out punishment and ensuring justice.  I don’t know whether there is still any stone unturned in Nigeria all these years. However, as can be seen in the brief x-ray above, and which did not cover up to 10% of the reported cases, the men in uniform just went on a brief retreat and came back with full force. We, the idle civilians are still at their mercy (that is if there is any mercy at all) and our youths across the country continued to be the  endangered species as they are dehumanized, extorted and denied the right to say ‘we no go greee’. The various briefings and debriefings by the military and police authorities have not yielded much, except in Lagos where it appears that  members of LASTSMA ( Lagos State Traffic Management Agency)  have repented and become a little more friendly and helpful. Where are the initial SWAT-men who were hurriedly recruited and sent for training in late 2020? Have they not yet finished their training or was the training of no effect? Do we need another EndSARS or will the Police et al on their own do the right thing? Meanwhile, I remember EndSARS with shudder. I remember all those who lost lives, limbs and property in those days of manmade but avoidable RAGE.  I still await strategic and inclusive efforts to bridge the gap between we the people and the police authorities.

And now, a basket of questions for Ghbajabiamila, who speaks in the house: he swore never to sign the 2021 budget unless compensation for EndSARS victims was included ( he even mentioned ASUU monies). How far now?  What category of victims was he speaking about? Did it include those whose businesses were finished at Adeniran Ogunsanya, Surulere, Lagos? In any case, how many were the victims? How much was budgeted and how much has been disbursed? I need an answer before I organise occupy NASS and when an elder occupies….EndSARS: We are where we were and then, Questions for Gbajabiamila!!!

Even beyond EndSARS, the highhandedness of our friends, the Police, continued unabated.   Instances include killing of 2 and detaining 12 other ‘protesters’ at College of Education, Gidan Waya Kaduna; torturing of  Dauda Danladi by the Bauchi Police Command, arrest and assault of Solomon Odeniyi, of Punch together with other journalists for daring to cover developments in the Dunamis Church, arrests of 6 activists  and  a blind Saxophonist. Samuel Iwatonaiye  for wearing BMG T-Shirts ( BMG? Buhari Must Go!). The thing even got close to me when policemen murdered one Okada-man at Igbo-Ukwu, which led to ‘akshion’ and the torching of the police station, which had just been upgraded through communal efforts. Other instances include  the murder of a  a Keke driver in Rukpokwu , PH over N100 bribe;( yes; just N100) shooting at traders in Bayelsa  for causing traffic snarl, arresting an EndSARS WhatsApp administrator in Osun State and murder of a wedding guest, Judi Oguzie in Imo State. Soldiers are also ‘doing well’ as they brutalized a lady in Ota axis of Ogun State for indecent dressing, roughened up another young man, Godson, at Asaba for no apparent cause, a fate that befell Bolade Adedeji, a physically challenged compatriot in the hands of a female soldier at Oke-Itunu, Ibadan on 4/12/21.   They also mercilessly flogged Olaide Idowu in the Sangotedo area of Lagos for failure to greet them( na by force?) while the  the latest and viral case was that of , Lt Chika Anele dehumanizing Ifeyinwa Ezeiruaku a female Corper  for exchanging pleasantries with male  soldier.  One was flogged for not greeting while another was humiliated for greeting! Head or tail, idle civilians are the losers. In May 2021, the NLC reported that El-Rufai hired 50 truckloads of thugs, who were empowered with 500 apiece, to disrupt their protests. This affirmed one of the sources of thugs who had  infiltrated the EndSars movement. In a strange twist, Sowore was accused of privatizing EndSARS proceeds while Canada refused to grant asylum to a SARS Officer, citing their highhandedness. Seun Kuti and  his group, MOP, had also been harassed. Even vigilante people have joined in this highhandedness as one Miss Sovereignty Iteregbe was shot dead by a vigilante member in front of her mother, in Udu, Delta State for daring to exchange words with him.

We are also aware how the government, which set up panels to assuage the EndSARS rage, went around to freeze the EndSARSers accounts. Godwin Emefiele accused them of economic sabotage while Justice  Tsoho declared authoritatively that the closure of EndSARS related accounts saved the economy and strengthened the Naira against the Dollar. A judicial economist! I do not know what both of them will be saying now that the Dollar is going for N600 apiece. Passports of others were also seized. One attention seeking Adamu Garba said EnSARS was a failed Biafran movement while PMB that promised to fulfill the demands of the EndSARsers  and even apologized to them( after Prof Osinbajo had done so earlier) turned around to say that it was an attempt to topple his government.

On top of all these, Buratai, the former Chief of Army Staff and now an honourable diplomat declared that his spiritual warfare strategy prevented  deaths at the Lekki Tollgate while  Femi Adesina, who has been saying what he has been paid to say, claimed  that we were lucky because PMB exercised the patience and tolerance of a father. Assuming he exercised any patience and tolerance, what of his foot soldiers like Femi Adesina and Lai Mohammed? How patiently and tolerantly did they behave in those days of rage?

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