They Must Think We Are Fools

#EndSARS Flag bearer Olistng

How did we get here? How on God’s green earth did we sink so low? The question on every sensible Nigerian’s mind the evening of October 20, 2020. The day peaceful protesters were shot at in Lagos Nigeria. It has now been termed the #LekkiMassacre. Actions surrounding that day have seen diverse reports primarily from the members of the government, military and the protesters. This leaves one wondering why exactly the ask for good governance seems too much for the government that it seems to be going to great lengths to cover its back.

Let me share a little back story for more context. On October 7th, 2020, Nigerian Youth started to protest the killing of an innocent young Nigerian by a division of the police force- Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). They are notorious for wrongly profiling individuals, harassing, extorting, kidnapping and even killing young men and women of Nigeria very often simply because they looked a certain way.

Things quickly escalated from online protests to large physical protests all over the country with citizens demanding certain things and the government either being unresponsive or slow to respond. One of their responses was to implement curfews across some states in the country. At 12 noon, Lagos state announced a curfew to start at 4pm on October 20th. This reaction from the government lead to the continuation of these peaceful protests even after the announcement on that fateful day. At about 7pm with all lights turned off at the toll gate, men in Nigerian Military attire opened fire on protesters at the Lekki Toll gate. See these pieces by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in The New York Times and Dr Krystal Strong in Harper’s Bazar for more context into the situation.

What has been most intriguing has been what happened after this massacre- even though the government is yet to acknowledge it as this- is one, the startling difference in coverage by certain media houses; and two, the reports being made by the government officials as reported in various media outlets.

Popular entertainer DJ Switch via her Instagram Live streamed what happened at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20th. In a follow up Instagram Live, she broke down sharing her ordeal on the day and there after detailing the number of people who where shot and the bodies she saw being carted away. She similarly shares this in her GQ interview where herself and Folarin Falana (Falz D Bahd Guy), another entertainer/activist, spoke about their experience, describing it as a “horror show”.

Yet, in his address, the President of Nigeria barely addressed the issue, seemingly extending more sympathy to the deceased officers as opposed to addressing the incidence at Lekki. On another hand, the Governor of Lagos state, according to Premium Times, initially said there were no casualties before coming back to later announce two deaths. In the series of addresses afterwards, he also mentioned an inability to reach the president, and a failure to know who gave the order to shoot at peaceful protesters. On the other hand, the military initially claimed they were not present at the scene but have now said they only shot into the air as seen in this publication from The Punch covering the Judicial Inquiry.

Though we must acknowledge an onslaught of opportunists spreading fake news on the heels of the massacre, the thousands of Nigerians who watched the Instagram Live (myself included) can not wrap their heads around the statements being released by the government. Did we not see what we saw? Are we all suddenly blind at the very same time? Are we losing our minds simultaneously?

It was also interesting to look through the news feed of the Nigerian Television Authority – the official news outlet of the Federal Government- and not find any ample coverage of the situation as it unfolded because it was politically motivated. Many other media houses also did not begin to give the occurrence ample coverage or report accurately as well till Nigerian youth began to call them out on the streets of Social Media.

Could it be that the reporting is skewed because the traditional media outlets feared bans such as those eventually imposed on them by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission as detailed in The Premium Times.

Having read so much, lived the experience and seen the seemingly covert operations going on, I am left asking again “Which way Nigeria? Which way? When will we get the ‘story’ straight and do right by your citizens? When will history ever be told correctly.”

Written by Adeiye Oluwaseun-Sobo

References:

  1. Adejumo Kabir. (2020, October 21). “#EndSARS: Despite evidence, Sanwo-Olu says no fatality in Lekki shootings. Retrieved November 05 2020 from The Premium Times
  2. Agency Report. (2020, October 26). “#EndSARS: NBC imposes N3m sanction each on AIT, Channels and Arise TV” Premium Times. Retrieved November 08 2020 from The Premium Times
  3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (2020, October 21). “‘Nigerian is Murdering her Citizens” The New York Times.  Retrieved November 05, 2020 from The New York Times
  4. Dr Krystal Strong. (2020, October 27). “The Rise and Suppression of #EndSARS” Harper’s Bazar. Retrieved November 01 2020 from Harper’s Bazar
  5. Lola Ogunnaike. (2020, October 27). “’It Was a Horror Show’: Inside the #EndSARS Protests Against Police Violence in Nigeria” GQ. Retrieved November 08 2020 from GQ
  6. News feed of Nigerian Television Authority. Retrieved November 08 2020 from NTA
  7. Obianuju Udeh. (2020, October 23).  #EndSARS Update Recording of Instagram Live Video. Instagram. Retrieved October 23 2020 from DJ Switch Instagram Live
  8. Oladimeji Ramon. (2020, November 08). “#EndSARS: Sanwo-Olu called me to say Col. Bello was shooting at Lekki, Gen tells Lagos panel” The Punch. Retrieved November 08 2020 from The Punch
  9. Tanumi. (2020, October 22). “President Buhari’s Speech on the #EndSARS” Nigeria Television Authority. Retrieved November 08 2020 from NTA
  10. Photo of #EndSARS Flag bearer. Retrieved November 08 2020 from Olistng

Published by Adeiye Oluwaseun-Sobo

An Incredible Soul.

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