April 13, 2021

AfricaTopForum

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ENDSARS Protests: Between the army and Lagos government

3 min read

Femi Adeniyi

 

SIR:  The October 20 Lekki toll gate incident is one which many Nigerians cannot forget in a hurry, an incident which will later lead to the wanton destruction of lives and properties in Lagos and other states across the federation.

The true account of what really happened at the Lekki toll gate might have been distorted due to the variation in the account of eyewitnesses, the Lagos State government, the federal government, and most especially the social media platforms.

Just few days ago, the CNN came up with their accounts based on their investigation on what really happened, corroborating the popular accounts of many Nigerians.

While  the rest of the nation continue to await the conclusion of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other Matters on its current investigation of the issue, it’s imperative that we take a  closer look and objectively analyse the role played by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo Olu, and the men of the Nigerian Army.

According to the account of the Lagos State governor, the Lagos State government after it had announced the imposition of a 6pm curfew in Lagos, sent the usual security communication to all security agencies to ensure compliance with government’s directives on the curfew. This was a necessary and standard operational procedure. The communication was to ALL security agencies operating in the state, including the Army, Police, DSS, Civil Defence etc.

The standard practice is that, these agencies, on receiving the security communications, will make necessary contacts with their various leaderships from where they will take their operational security briefs concerning their subsequent deployments. The governor as a civilian authority is not responsible for the mode of operation or conduct of the security operatives in the discharge of their lawful duties.

This perhaps what Governor Sanwo Olu meant when he described actions of the army against unarmed, non-violent and innocent protesters as “acting on orders beyond his control”.

No civilian authority or government will instruct security agents to shoot and kill unarmed peaceful protesters. This must be viewed against the backdrop of the fact that this same governor had identified with the protesters by visiting them and carrying their complaints and demands all the way to the president in Abuja.

It is assumed that all security agents including the members of the armed forces, must have acquired the necessary training and skill to manage civil unrest. The unbridled engagement of the army at the toll gate certainly cannot be blamed on the governor’s supposed invitation.

The account given by the Nigerian Army at the judicial panel of inquiry says that the Nigerian Army had only fired blank bullets into the air and no lives were lost. The governor’s account after going round to visit the wounded in various hospitals exposes the military’s submission as absolute falsehood and an afterthought. An obvious futile attempt to excuse the unprofessional manner the army discharged its duties on the sad night.

Truth can never be hidden, it will certainly be revealed, and when it happens, there will be no place for the real culprits to hide.

 

  • Femi Adeniyi,

Ikeja, Lagos.