Most of us are aware of the ugly news that happened again last week in Lagos, in which innocent youths protesting poor governance and its effects on them were invaded by the Nigerian military at night in Lekki area, shot at, wounded and killed. Those youths are well trained young men and women, who after many years of painful studies, can’t find a space to ventilate ideas brimming in their subconscious and heads. They gathered to express their frustrations and anger arising from unemployment and added burden of state imposed highhandedness and human rights abuses.
By every evidence they went about their expressions of anger in the most peaceful way. They had no arms. All they did was just to gather, sing their songs, hopeful that the society they were born into and the government running it would hear them and possibly provide some palliatives. But instead of succour and assurance, what they got from the federal and state governments were “sorrow, tears and blood.” Our governments ordered soldiers to storm the gathering at night and to directly open fire on our children, future leaders, traumatising them, leaving in them a new psychology and consciousness that might is virtue, caused bodily harm to many and unspecified number killed. Yes, you heard me right, murdered in cold blood.
For those of us who value human life and place so much premium on it, and that is what it should be, sleep has vanished from our eyes. Only a demon-possessed heart, sadist – and we have them many – would see what happened to our children and still have strength to stand strong and be human. Everything was like animal kingdom, where in full glare of the rest of animals, the strong ones went after the weak ones for food. Those who went to Lekki to hunt and kill are either ritualists, whose gods have demanded for blood or they are human parts sellers. We all know trade in human parts has become a big, lucrative business in the world, or still they are primitive people who feast on flesh and blood. Otherwise nothing should warrant a repetition of the ugly trend that began with Operation Python Dance by same the military in South East where youths for just wearing Biafra colours were either shot and killed or arrested and taken away never to be seen again. There was the new tactics of killing and carting away corpses in the not so clever bid to do away with evidence.
I learnt in the case in question, the organisers can’t account for the whereabouts of many of the participants. They may never be able, going by the South East experience which in many ramifications is similar to the execution in the Lagos debacle. Our leaders and conservative lawyers among us have boxed us into a state we must wait for “evidence”, even from perpetuators of heinous crimes before we can take a deduction, before we think of a position and then action. It is a pattern that suits oppressors and system manipulators. Unfortunately change agents have become victims of a trap set by those who don’t want us to make progress. Otherwise with the amount of evidence from state killings in South East and now in Lagos, our task would not be what the governor of Lagos State is mouthing about, denying complicity and talking of a judicial commission of inquiry. It would have been to ask him and his cabinet to resign from office for clear abdication of cardinal responsibility.
He said on television he was one with the protesters, he met and waved flags with them, then took their matter to the President and security chiefs. He went but failed to say what they agreed to do. If he did it would have been the event against his word. After the killings he told us, “ it was done by powers beyond my control.” I have been high up in a state administration to know that federal authorities can descend in a state without express invitation or acceptance of the governor. Recent events in America have proved this fact. Donald Trump couldn’t do some things in some states because the governors said no. The Lagos State governor said he doesn’t know the chain of command of the military; for this alone he is not qualified to be a governor.
To kill those lads and bury evidence, the evil conspirators first removed installed CCTV cameras, indicative of awareness that something untoward was about to happen that might that would lead to damages. Light that should illuminate an environment, activity or not went off at the strategic time. The governor said the people incharge did all that because they were to obey curfew. They can tell that to the marines.
The Nigerian army has been anything in recent times but professional. Politics, religion, mediocrity, godfatherism, nepotism and crass materialism have combined to do this institution in. I have friends there and we talk, I know their lamentations over bastardisation of standards and destruction of espirit de corp. The malaise has grown worse in the last five years. Under the present Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Buratai, statements that should be made by the president or defense minister are made by army commanders. Increasingly, many of us have cause to begin to fear if what we have created is not an army of occupation. Our army would pull out drivers for traffic offences or for just glancing on the soldiers at checkpoints and mete out all manner of corporal punishments on them in full public view. They make you frog jump, order you to roll in muddy water or cut grasses.
Dealing with civilian population in the most outrageous manner and denying is the new strategy in their hands. It became worse since they opened their own School of Mass Communication, it is as if they invented their own style. In Operation Python Dance they dealt ruthlessly with youths and challenged they them to deny. In the Lagos pattern, the military authority denied complicity of its troops. Francis Omata, an indigene of Kogi State, a Brigadier General said to have led the troops had a statement where he admitted arriving the location late after the nasty deal had been executed. He said he mentioned his name loud because he was there to order the troops back to barracks. He mentioned a certain Bello who moved out the troops. Are these ghosts?
We must rail against the penchant to pull in troops on civil matters. We must note the new trend of killing and carryibg away corpses. These signpost tyranny and dictatorship. We must begin to take special note that leaders from the north want to take us through dictatorship. Leaders from that part loathe contact, dialogue, compromise and consensus. This bent is proving very costly. Even if sponsored, the protest could have been easily deflated by a leader with charisma and little skill in constructive engagement. A section believes “we have the security apparatchiks and population.” It doesn’t work that way, in times of great upheaval, military and police can’t do anything, you can kill but it will precipitate the procurement of arms by others and every place would turn in killing fields.
It is regrettable that the state killed her citizens and fellow citizens were emphasising law and order, unity of a country yet to birth, when the focus ought to be pacification and welcome gestures. What happened in Lagos and East before tell people that restructuring should be pursued as a question of life and death. One Bello can wake up and take over a “foreign” territory. The fear has been there and am just highlighting it. Let the service chiefs go, including the powerful Bello. If they remain, then Nigerians should fear for what is yet to come.