By Dr Osagie Obayuwana
They knew the Protesters were unarmed, and that the combat would be unequal. They marched like the brutes that they are into the ranks of Patriots, who had nothing but their passion for change; change for accountability in their country, Nigeria.
They waited for when the sun would have long gone down, and chose the cover of pitch darkness. They put out all flicker of light, street lights and all.
The Brutes and their Actions
The patriotic call of the Protesters was for an end to Police brutality, fostered by a long history of impunity. The essential demand was for good governance. With assault rifles, they opened fire on the Patriots, mostly youths, male and female, without discrimination.
To the brutes, the justification for the dastardly action was the violation of a curfew, but we ask, which law provides the death penalty for violation of a curfew? In any event, the assault reportedly started at about 7pm, two hours before the curfew commenced.
It is clear to us that, what the brutes found objectionable was the resilience of the Protesters, the contents of their demands, and the audacity to make their views known.
The brutes expected the Patriots to accept promises that for years, have not been kept. They brutishly allowed vain glory and their sense of importance as temporary holders of public office, to overrun any semblance of rationality and good judgement. They chose to silence the voices of uncountable patriots in pitch darkness on 20th October, 2020, at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos, Nigeria.
They derived ancillary justification from the protests of those they call miscreants and hoodlums, who earlier in the day had violently reacted to the unjustifiable killing of some of their compatriots, and who understandably had set ablaze Orile Police Station.
They blame the Patriots at Lekki for the reaction of those they call miscreants and hoodlums; they argue that the Protesters at Lekki and Alausa provided the enabling environment for the protest which they acknowledged to be peaceful and justified, to be hijacked by those they refer to as unreasonable elements, who they feel at liberty to eliminate wholesale.
They conveniently forget that these elements, poor, illiterate and unemployed as they are, are a creation of the uncaring system being run in Nigeria. They refuse to accept that in their reaction, the poor, illiterate, unemployed and generally homeless people they categorised as undesirable elements, feel justified in what they consider an inhumane resistance of the ruling class to the change imperative, long overdue, that will benefit all.
The Brutes, through their attack dogs, the Soldiers, held the Lekki Protesters responsible, and imagined that the killings at Lekki would stop the protest.
CHDR’s Condemnation and Call
But, we of the CDHR dare proclaim, that ours is a voice that cannot be silenced, and that the issues, despite the killings, will not go away.
We despise and condemn wholeheartedly, the resort of Government Functionaries and Security Operatives to the instigation and arming of unemployed youths to engage in violent counter-protests in Lagos, Abuja, Benin and other places. We condemn equally, the attempt to deliberately infuse ethnic and religious divisions into the ranks of the victims of misrule in Nigeria.
We acknowledge that those who profit from misrule of Nigeria and Nigerians, are a negligible few. We call on the rank and file of the Police and the Army to appreciate their historic duty, to team up with the long-suffering people of Nigeria who are the vast majority, to refuse henceforth to kill hapless victims, play their historic role and insist on the change that will move Nigeria forward, for the benefit of all its people.
Meanwhile, for the Brutes who carried out the cowardly Lekki Tollgate Massacre, and committed the most heinous crime against humanity, we demand an arraignment before the International Criminal Court of Justice. We hold them and their collaborators responsible for all the killings across Nigeria, since the commencement of the Nigerian People’s #ENDSARS revolt 2020.
As the killings by themselves cannot take away the Nigerian people’s entitlement to fight for their rights, we daresay that there is no option, other than for the struggle to continue, until the sovereign will of the Nigerian people is upheld.
What is at stake is the enjoyment by all Nigerians, especially those who have historically been denied of our civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. In this regard, we are assured that victory is certain, no matter how long it takes.
Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, National President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)