People who don’t learn from yesterday, endanger tomorrow -GCFRNG

People who don’t learn from yesterday, endanger tomorrow -GCFRNG

The Buhari government shot itself in the foot for its reckless, speculative and presumptuous press conference on October 20, 2021, marking a year of EndSARS protests against police brutality.

The protests in which the government confirmed that several people, including six soldiers and 37 policemen, were killed, some injured and property destroyed, surely could not have been a happy event. However, the government decided to handle what should be a solemn matter in an arrogant manner.

The government’s speech to the nation was full of mockery. For example, in response to claims that people died at the Lekki tollbooth on October 20, 2020, he responded: “Where are the families of those who were reportedly killed at the tollbooth? Did they appear at the Judicial Investigation Panel? “

Continuing his taunting, he dismissed reports of people being killed at the tollbooth as claims of: “an unidentified mother whose son was reportedly shot to death in Lekki (and) Amnesty International’s moonlight stories , CNN, a fugitive DJ and his ilk “.

The government said its press conference was to mark: “the first anniversary of the phantom massacre at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.” If it was a “phantom massacre,” why is the government celebrating it? The word “anniversary”, in contrast to commemoration, more connotes a celebration or eulogy of an event; it is more related to happiness than sadness or tragic events.

More substantially, the government claimed that: “The army did not fire on protesters at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020, and there was no massacre at the toll gate.” These statements are not based on verifiable facts.

Even in the text of its press conference, the government inadvertently confirmed the shots fired at the toll gate when it approvingly cited what it claimed to be the testimony of ballistics experts before the Judicial Investigative Panel in Lagos: “The Team concludes that a Based on the medical data examined, including the arrival schedule at the medical center and the nature of the injuries sustained by the victims, who were brought to the five medical centers, that no military grade (high velocity) live ammunition was fired at the protesters in Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020, within the reference period (18.30-20.34 hrs) ”.

This government statement confirmed that there were shootings at the tollbooth; that the victims with gunshot wounds were transferred to five hospitals but claims that the bullets were not “military grade.” Has this claim been confirmed or did the victims shoot themselves?

Unfortunately, it is hard to believe this statement by the government about the degree of the bullets because for at least a week after the shooting, it vehemently denied that the Nigerian soldiers were even close to the crime not to mention shooting.

For example, the Nigerian military on its official verified Twitter account @HQNigerianArmy, within hours of the Lekki shooting, made six denials. He asked people to “beware of fake news,” describing the reports as “false and misleading” and infamously declared, “There were no soldiers at the scene.”

Army spokesman Brigadier General Sagir Musa told reporters that the protest is civilian in nature and that the army had nothing to do with the attack. Finally, on October 27, 2020, that is, after seven days of denials, the Army admitted that it deployed men at the toll booth; so that the soldiers weren’t fake. However, Osoba Olaniyi, a spokesman for the Army’s 82nd Division in Lagos, insisted that the deployed soldiers “did not shoot any civilians” during the protest.

Two days later, Sani Usman, a former spokesman for the Nigerian army, admitted that the soldiers deployed at the tollbooth that night fired shots, but that they were blank bullets, not real bullets. Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, on November 14, 2020, admitted at the Lagos State Panel that the soldiers were armed, as they could not have been deployed to quell the protests using “catapults”.

Therefore, if the government and the army have tried so hard to cover the presence of soldiers in Lekki, I am not about to be convinced that: no “military grade” bullets were used.

Furthermore, the government failed to do itself justice by citing with approval a useless US State Department Report that stated that: “On October 20, 2020, members of the security forces imposed a curfew by firing into the air to disperse the protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki toll gate … “

Even according to the government’s schedule, the shootings occurred between: “18.30-20.34 hrs” while the curfew was from 9.00 pm. So how could the military have been imposing a curfew that hadn’t started?

But most important of all this is the fact that the federal government did not conduct an investigation into the Lekki Tollgate shootings, if it had, it would have released his White Paper. The only investigation is the Lagos State Judicial Panel. That body, chaired by Judge Doris Okuwobi, ended its session on Monday, October 18, 2021 and informed the public that its report: “is in preparation.”

Judge Okuwobi clarified that: “The two reports to be submitted by the panel to the Lagos state government are being investigated on the shootings at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020 during the #EndSARS protests hijacked by thugs and petitions about various abuses and killings by the Nigerian Police, especially the dissolved SARS. “

She also clearly stated that: “In accordance with the laws that establish the judicial panel, the government will make its findings and recommendations available to the public.”

The following day was a public holiday, followed by the Federal Government press conference in which it did not include the state of Lagos among those who had received reports. In fact, given the timeline I mentioned earlier, that would have been impossible.

This means that the Buhari government’s assertions about the events at Lekki Tollgate, including the shootings, are not based on findings of fact. At best, they are speculative. So why is the government eager to spread speculative reports among the Nigerian people? Why wouldn’t you wait for the Lagos Judicial Panel report? This is all so messy.

The epidemic of extortion, detention and murder of Nigerians since the protests, gives the impression that the police had simply gone on hiatus during the protests and have returned to their old ways. In the EndSARS protests, the police were like a prostitute who went on a religious pilgrimage, sought spiritual forgiveness, claimed that they had become a new creation, and vowed to reject their old ways, only to return to them.

What the Government of Buhari had to do after a year of protests with the wounds still fresh, was not to exhibit a feeling of triumphalism but of empathy, sobriety and deep reflection because a people that does not learn from yesterday, endangers tomorrow .

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People who don’t learn from yesterday, endanger tomorrow -GCFRNG

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