Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A security group, Citizens Initiative for Security Awareness (CISA), has pleaded with Nigerians and international community to exercise patience and give chance to the panel set up by Lagos state government to unravel the truth surrounding the shooting of protesters at Lekki Tollgate.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, National Coordinator of CISA, Chidi Omeje, said that CISA is saddened by the widespread report of unspeakable carnage across many parts of the country in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests that rocked the nation in the last couple of weeks.
He further cautioned that since the situation bothers on national security, Nigerians should not allow sentiments to becloud the quest to unravel the truth.
“We in CISA are saddened by the widespread report of unspeakable carnage across many parts of the country in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests that rocked the nation in the last couple of weeks.
“We will therefore begin by offering our heartfelt sympathies to families that lost dear ones and to people and government whose properties were destroyed, looted or burnt down. We believe that this particular crisis could have been avoidable if reason had prevailed and if we had listened to each other.
“As a matter of fact, the sordid event on the night of Tuesday, October 2020 which was the anti-climax of the whole unfortunate scenario has shown very clearly that most crises we face in this country and elsewhere are triggered by insensitive communication, mischievous and toxic narratives and reckless posturing by people of less than noble intention.
“Without doubt, what really exacerbated the tragic situation that snowballed into unrestrained violence, arson and looting of both public and private property across the country was the reckless manner with which some people handled information during and after the unfortunate Tuesday evening at the Lekki Tollgate.
“As we are beginning to see, the media and civil society groups who reported the sad event, relied on eye-witness accounts mostly from celebrities and social media influencers without subjecting the information to rigorous investigation since no single authenticated footages of massacre at Lekki Tollgate has surfaced.
“In any case, we are very happy that the Lagos State government has instituted a judicial panel of enquiry comprising of legal experts, youth activists, media practitioners, etc, with the mandate to unravel the truth about what transpired on that night at the protest ground in Lekki Tollgate and its aftermaths.
“We urge Nigerians to give this panel a chance to do their job. This matter bothers on national security and we should not allow sentiments to becloud our quest to unravel the truth. Let us therefore exercise patience and support the panel to do a thorough and dispassionate job.
“Hopefully the panel will make us see whether the usage of the word “massacre” which literally means: “indiscriminate killing of a large number of human beings,” was appropriate in describing the incident and also whether it is not strange that no single family has come forward to report the loss of a relation after a ‘massacre’ took place.
“Hopefully the panel will also direct us to the hospital morgue or shallow graves where those youths that were said to be massacred were kept or buried.
“We understand that emotions are still high and that it is not attractive to flow against the popular narrative now but in matters of national security or issues that has implication to peace and stability of our dear country, we urge that nothing other than truth is what will set the country free at this tempestuous period.
“It is however curious that in the aftermath of this confusion, the largest Social Media Platforms, Facebook and Instagram have continued to flag several contents containing the alleged images of LekkiMassacre as false information after being checked by independent fact-checkers.
“Regrettably, many people share stories before they even read them. This calls for concern especially at this tempestuous period when the social media landscape is bedeviled by antics of amateurish and anonymous sources who for ulterior motives, manipulate contents for their gullible public.
“The promoters of such deliberate misinformation spread false and misleading contents to confuse, fool and deceive their targets with the sole aims of reinforcing sentiments, influencing bad judgment, aggravating anger, inducing mob attacks and plunging society into monumental crisis.
“Again we urge Nigerians and even the international community to exercise patience and give the panel a chance to unravel the truth,” CISA appealed.