On Thursday 22nd of October 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari finally heeded to the clamor to address the nation in view of the violence which had engulfed some parts of the country, most especially Lagos, following the shooting of a large number of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate on the night of October 20, 2020 by military personnel.
However, the President’s speech disappointed many especially with its lack of attention to the incident at the Lekki toll gate.
This incident is not one which should be glossed over in view of the incontrovertible evidence that shooting with live ammunition did happen at the toll gate and with several video evidences, it is indisputable that several people were injured and some have also died.
In view of the fact that Mr. President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, his speech ought to have acknowledged this incident and given assurances that the matter would be properly investigated and the guilty culprits brought to book. This lack of acknowledgement has disenchanted many and there appears to be no hope that those who lost their lives or were injured during the Lekki Toll gate shooting would receive any form of justice.
It is this kind of approach that makes many, most especially the youths to distrust the government. We need to understand that in this age of technology, the truth is very difficult to hide and when those in political power refuse to be open with the truth, it leads to serious mistrust and disenchantment by the populace.
As highlighted in his speech, the current government has implemented a lot of laudable youth-centred policies such as the creation of the N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund, Farmermoni, Tradermoni, Marketmoni, N-Power, N-Tech, N-Agro and the likes.
However, one area where this government scores low is on security.
#TheEndSARS protest by the youth was a cry out for help against police brutality, harassment and killings perpetrated by SARS, however more of them have now even lost their lives trying to seek an end to the impunity by the armed men who ought to be protecting and securing their lives.
It is saddening that those who have lost their lives to the bullets of the military at the Lekki Toll gate may not receive any form of justice since denial and non-acknowledgement of the incident by the government now appears to be the order of the day.
This again brings to the fore, the limited capacity of the State governors in managing the security of their states. The current level of carnage and bloodshed witnessed in Lagos and other parts of country may not have happened if the governors are directly in control of the security forces policing their respective states.
Each state has its peculiarities and thus those at the helm of affairs in the states will better understand how to manage the internal security with their own security arm. The Federal security forces in such situations will only ever be needed if there is an external threat that can affect the sanctity of the whole nation.
As it currently stands, no one wants to claim responsibility for the military personnel who carried out the shooting at the Lekki Toll gate.
Some of the video evidence from the night of the incident are currently being described as “photoshop-ed” as a way of trying to discredit and gloss over a deeper investigation of the incident.
One thing that can however not be denied are the many young souls in hospitals recovering from bullet wounds or those who have died for choosing to believe they can bring about a positive change in their nation.
The use of deadly force on peaceful protesters is very undemocratic and should not be swept under the carpet. The incident should be properly investigated and those found guilty should be brought to book.
Comrade Sanni David
National Publicity Secretary
All Progressives Congress, South Africa Chapter