The death of value and 99 other protesters.

I have been resisting putting up anything due to my protracted writer’s block but the victims and martyrs must be honoured. There are people who are still in denial of the murderous operation of the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Tollgate one year ago. The hopeless irredentists. Sure they are many and you will find them everywhere. If you are one of them, two things can be the cause of your hopelessness; the first is that you have no values. And the second is that you may have been denied a proper education. An educated mind does quickly detect the presence of a crime in the statements of different actors in the plot against all of us. Because the truth is consistent. It does not speak from both sides of the mouth. A truth-telling leadership does not veer back and forth on its position. The Lagos State government/Governor for instance said the shooting was done by “forces beyond his control”. Who imposes a curfew without inviting the armed forces?

First, they denied that those were soldiers [Premium Times, October 21, 2020]. Then denied there were any murders, that only blanks were fired. Later, the Army said it open fire because hoodlums wounded a soldier… “on the lips”. And that they were only on patrol. It just happened that the LCC’s CCTV cameras were removed before the shootings? The crime committed by the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army was so embarrassing to my friends in the Army. One of them denied the Army would ever intervene in the protests and that such orders were impossible. Many soldiers believed that those in the footage were armed thugs in military fatigue. Their beliefs are not naïve.

The military and the police are two different institutions with different goals. While at every protest, the first to attack is the police, it takes armed insurrections to bring out the army in many countries depending on their value system. In 1989, the “People’s Liberation” Army mowed down about 80,000 young people mostly students in the event that later came to be known as the Tiananmen Massacre. Details of the event are heavily censored in China at the moment. Conversely, in 2012 the Egyptian military –which had sustained Mubarak in power for 30 years– refused to break the anti-government protests in Tahrir Square. That was in spite of express orders from their Commander-in-Chief. This year, the Myanmar military took over power. It faced opposition from youth groups.

In response, the junta arrested about 7000 protesters and murdered about 2000. My friend, a subaltern, told me “the Army has grown with this democracy.” That statement is betrayed by the attacks on unarmed civilians. It is very common. One of such is the #EndSARS massacre. Perhaps things will improve in the future, presently there is much indiscipline in the armed forces. Members of the military high command were hurriedly appointed ambassadors, for obvious reasons – to protect them from criminal prosecution. I hope we remember their faces. After all, immunity is not a lifetime warranty. Those who commit crimes must be brought to face the law. Forgiveness is important but justice is more important. It should never be a norm that murderers to go free or be pardoned without prosecution. After #EndSARS? When I was a teenager, I always wondered why people did not protest injustice.

Now there are protests going on across the country. It is good but that is not enough. Pockets of movement here and there can be defeated in detail. There is a need for synergy. I believe that political power should be the focus. “Every free society has a martyr.” We must continue to tell the truth. Peaceful protests are essential. We do not have to be bogged down with worries about the intellectually and socially immobile. There will always be people that defend dictatorships like those in Uganda when Idi Amin was butchering his way through the intelligentsia and displaying high-level barbarism. They are the ones who call freedom by foreign names. To them, justice is relative. Some are genuinely ignorant. Others are just stupid. References

  1. Alfred Olufemi. October 21, 2020. “#EndSARS: Despite contrary evidence, Nigerian Army denies shooting at protesters”. Premium Times
  2. Agency Report and Ifeoluwa Adediran. November 21, 2020. “Lekki Shooting: Nigerian Army changes position again, says troops had ‘blank and live ammunition”. Premium Times
  3. John Atani. November 3, 2020. “Lekki Shooting: Is Sanwo-Olu looking for a scapegoat?”.

Vanguard Ojo, Aderemi Ibadan, Nigeria. ojderemi@gmail.com


Ojo, Aderemi is a Historian, teacher, public speaker, writer, politician, and community organiser. He was trained at the University of Ibadan and was President of the Students Union.

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