By Editorial Board
*Governor Sanwo-Olu & COAS Buratai Tukur…the buck-passing is on…
THE October 20, 2020 Lekki tollgate, Lagos shooting which left about 10 hapless #EndSARS Nigerian youths dead has no doubt, gone into the annals of world history. It was a black Tuesday when young Nigerians in their primes who had merely assembled to express their grievances over the endemic rot in the country occasioned by inept governance system and mindless annihilation of the people’s sensibilities, got cut short by the hot leads fired by a few gullible destiny-killers in khaki. Before exhibiting their brute and cowardice, the sponsors had perfected modalities to cover-up and leave no trace whatsoever. First, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had imposed a 24 hrs curfew that was to commence from 4.00pm that same day. This was in flagrance of whose horse is gored. Second, the CCTV cameras fitted to the tollgate were craftily disconnected and removed while the light systems that illuminated the entire hemisphere; the seat of the assembly was disconnected. With total darkness pervading the toll plaza, it was ripe for the ‘unknown soldiers’ to carry out their nocturnal kill and go operation. Like a troop matching towards an enemy camp, the soldiers caught by sharp lenses of some courageous protesters albeit the murky atmosphere pointed the lasso of their rifles at the Nigerian flag-wielding youths and leveled them. No apology!
With the callous and gratuitous bloodletting spewing national and international opprobrium, the government of Lagos did not only come out to revile the shooting and those behind it, a judicial panel of inquiry was quickly set up to probe the cruelty. But while Nigerians, nay the entire world awaited the outcome of the probe panel, the Army authority came out with a bolt from the blue, accusing the government of Lagos State of barefaced lies. It revealed in a statement signed by the acting Deputy Director, 81 Division Army Public Relations, Major Osoba Olaniyi and made available to newsmen on Tuesday October 27, 2020, that his men were actually contracted by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to enforce the curfew contrary to an earlier shameless denial. The statement reads in part, “However, the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government LASG after a 24 hours curfew was imposed. This was as a result of the violence which led to several Police stations being burnt, Policemen killed, suspects in Police custody released and weapons carted away. The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.” Having succeeded in throwing spanners into the probe panel, the same Army authority again in their usual manner, denied ever firing a shot let alone kill anybody at the Lekki tollgate. But the Amnesty International has factually discredited the blatant refutation by the army with a comprehensive report that it took the soldiers from the Bonny camp 7 minutes to arrive at the toll plaza that ill-fated Tuesday night to execute the carnage.
It is no less, flustering that the military which responsibility is to defend the nation’s territorial integrity at conflicts, have continually become ready and willing lackeys in the hands of politicians. On November 20, 1999, the Nigerian army on the orders of President Olusegun Obasanjo unleashed soldiers on the predominantly Ijaw town of Odi in Bayelsa State; killing scores who were merely agitating for their rights to oil resources and developmental protection. As usual, the army came up with the defence of the vile against humanity that its personnel were ambushed by the indigenes while entering their village and that led to being ruffled. It is even much more discomfiting that a government that was democratically elected by the people could turn against the same people; vide the jackboot. In USA, UK and other sane climes, the soldiers are not known to do runoff the mills task. They are kept off towns and are forb idden to point the noose of the guns at harmless citizens; especially, those wielding the nation’s flag. That is the rule of engagement worldwide and Nigeria should not be an exception. The Lagos State government should as a matter of urgency, come out openly to tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians and the world over. Those soldiers who senselessly shot and killed innocent Nigerians should be fished out and made to face the full weight of the law. This is in addition to identifying relations of the brutally murdered Lekki protesters, commiserate with them and pay commensurate compensations. Enough of this barbarism and power-drunkenness on the part of our elected leaders.
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