It was inexplicable. It was more than massacre. It was genocide. They have not told us why they did it the disdainful way they did it. We are still wondering aloud. One thing we are sure of, the masterminds of the Lekki genocide will never again know peace in whatever form.
There was no single incident of violence in Lekki, Lagos. Yet soldiers were sent to mow down harmless and defenceless youths. None of the youths was holding even a stick. But the soldiers were called out to fight peace with guns.
What the whole armed forces could not achieve with Boko Haram, a few soldiers accomplished with utmost ease at Lekki. And under an hour, the deadly and dirty deed was done. Heavy knocks many times over.
For 13 solid days, those youthful agitators comported themselves. It was amazing. They roundly taught us how to make a useful statement. Simple: Protest without violence. And it worked wonders.
We never knew it could be possible. They made it happen effortlessly. We are extremely proud of their resilience and patriotism. It is unprecedented; it has no known rival.
The youths were well coordinated. Their organisational skills were something else. They opted to have no known leaders. That strategy was second to none.
That is why high-profile personalities like Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Bishop David Oyedepo, Pastor Paul Adefarasin, et al, could not resist them. They did not find it difficult to align and queue behind them.
On the 14th day, however, the bubble burst. Suddenly, things went haywire. That was Monday, October 19, 2020. It was a day of rage and blood.
Enemies of peace and progress got the protest infiltrated and truncated. Thugs, bandits and hoodlums were successfully planted to derail the protests. And they are doing a good job for their heartless anti-people sponsors.
Accusing fingers are being pointed at government at various levels. Why? The peaceful protesters were orderly. They are the trouble-shooters. The reason they patriotically carried Nigeria’s flag.
But the sponsored bandits and hoodlums never did. They were armed to the teeth with cudgels, cutlasses, machetes and even guns. That is the striking difference. They are the real troublemakers.
Their sponsors were embarrassed. They never imagined those youths could display such determination. Their crude mind-set: Nigerian youths are pathologically lazy. Those 13 days rubbished all that.
We sunk further as a nation Tuesday night. They turned the Lekki tollgate, to a battlefield. The mindless invaders switched off the light and pulled down the CCTV. And the tollgate went dark and blank. Heartless security operatives took positions in commando style. They opened fire with accurate precision. And when the dust settled, scores were sent to the world beyond. Never to be seen again by their loved ones. SAD!
We are drifting rapidly into the Stone Age, moving back to the Abacha dark era. That was how it started. The template is almost the same.
Unfortunately, the image of the country shored up by the peaceful actions of these youths became a casualty. It collapsed like a house of cards. The international perception of us as a nation receded into the ridiculous. That made a mess of the gains of those previous 13 days. Pity, we lost it again.
In all this, the Nigerian Army (NA) is dangerously sticking to the wrong side of the guns. That shouldn’t be. It got it blatantly wrong, gravely missing the vital point.
These patriotic #EndSARS protests are throwing up a lot of things. Many hidden things are being brought into the open. The resilient youths behind the movement are astounding and stunning. They need our encouragement at this critical period. We have let them down several times over. This must not be this time around.
They are convinced they are the true leaders of tomorrow. Wisely enough, they are taking up that Herculean task. That is quite brilliant of them. They have wised up with foresight. They would not allow our leaders destroy their tomorrow today. That is the very reason for their actions and inactions.
This huge mess must end even now. And they are resolute and determined to make it so. It is a dream. No force can quench that, no matter how mighty, dreaded or dreadful.
But our own Army saw differently. It did not detect any trace of patriotism in them or their actions. And it did not hide its irritating misgivings. See its first response to the anti-SARS protests. Awkward and weird.
Courtesy, Col. Sagir Musa, Acting Director, Army Public Relations: “The Nigerian Army wishes to reassure law-abiding citizens that it is highly committed to the sustenance of peace, security and defence of democracy in Nigeria.”
NA, just listen to yourself: “As a responsible and law-abiding organisation, the NA reaffirms its unalloyed loyalty and commitment to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Constitution of the country.”
This is arrant nonsense! Yes, it is! The President, no matter the personality, is submissive to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He can never, ever be superior to the Constitution. He swore to abide by its terms and conditions. That Constitution made him, he did not make the Constitution. He must be sincerely seen to uphold every tenet of that Constitution.
For institutions like the NA, your unalloyed loyalty is first to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is the country you vowed to defend at all times. You dare not place the personal interest of an individual, not even the President’s, above the nation.
The Defence Headquarters aptly read Musa’s lips well. It saw the ugly writing on the cracked wall. And it acted swiftly. It was a stich in time.
Coordinator, Defence Media Organisation, Major General John Enenche, was deployed to do some damage control. And he did it with zeal and honesty. This is how he rescued the Army from its unpopular stance:
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies have observed with dismay some violence-related protests across the country, particularly the increasing number of attacks on peaceful protesters by thugs and miscreants.
“This unfolding event against peace-loving Nigerians will not be condoned. Hence, thugs and miscreants are hereby warned to desist from engaging in violent activities against peaceful Nigerians or face appropriate measures.”
That way, Enenche quenched the fire carelessly ignited by Musa. He applied wisdom and professionalism. He identified with the citizens and their aspirations. He equally shared their pains and feelings.
Musa did none of that. He relied heavily on military might to crush the crushable and destroy the destroyable. He failed to realise that we have moved past that pedestrian level. That was aptly and graphically demonstrated at the Lekki toolgate.
Events of the coming days would continue to test the integrity or otherwise of the armed forces. They probably thought we could be easily caged and cowed. Not anymore!
They should stand up and be counted. Positively, of course!