Nigerians are still trying to catch their breath from the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests which went bad too soon. A lot of commendation, reflection, blaming, recalibration and healing have also been going on behind the scenes for some time since the Lagos state government declared a curfew after the #LekkiMassacre.
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And now that the curfew that catalyzed widespread violence and looting across the nation is finally lifted, Nigerians home and abroad wonder if life would continue as if nothing changed.
A lot has changed nevertheless. Naturally, not after the state-sanctioned bloodbath, which was live-streamed and witnessed by the whole world, should things continue normally.
Tuesday, 20th October 2020, was supposed to be another usual day in the #EndSARS protests but the dynamics switched last minute and it quickly became the watershed moment in the struggle which went steadily nationwide for two weeks.
From the urgency with which the infamous curfew was announced on Tuesday evening by the Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu, to the speed with which men of the Nigerian Army and a SARS unit from Maroko police station opened fire at protestors stationed at the Lekki toll gate, the event became an eye-opener that public servants who are meant to deploy state apparatus to constitutionally protect the Nigerian people are doing the opposite.
Apparently, it became evident that the toll gate and surrounding buildings which could have CCTV footage were set on fire in an effort to tamper with the crime scene where the massacre took place. Even more damning is the haste to destroy evidence of a crime when officials of LCC at the toll gate went to the scene to remove LPR cameras capable of taking clear pictures even in the dark before the shootings started.
Though the total death toll within the major two-week protest is still not clear, Amnesty International have put figures of persons who died during the #LekkiMassacre at 12 persons, as of October 21. Many who sustained injuries have now died while a few who were present at the massacre are still reported missing.
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While protests and lootings may not have abated in some parts of the nation, the tragic turn on Black Tuesday cemented it as the crossing of the Rubicon.
The Black Tuesday of the Lekki Massacre has brought forward again in our collective memory the pain and hurt of the atrocities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit which Nigerians have endured for too long.
This is why a majority of Nigerians chose to mourn the memory of victims of police brutality in a simple protest meant to reform citizen-police relationship and to demand justice for its victims; this is the reason Nigerians felt even more dejected when the president failed to mention or sympathise to Nigerians on the Lekki Massacre in his widely criticised speech of 23rd October.
And just like the evils committed during the Nigerian-Biafran war were scrubbed from our official document or history, the Black Tuesday at Lekki shall remain documented not only in our memories but in all forms of media.
In other countries of the world, the site of the massacre at the Lekki toll gate would have equally been drowning with wreaths while traffic along that major road is totally disabled. But in this case, it is almost business as usual as the site of the carnage has already been cleaned up by LAWMA even before investigations were concluded and vehicular traffic returned to the busy road.
Many Nigerians who are still beholden by the trauma of the Lekki Massacre now wonder if those who were killed may have died in vain and if those wounded just suffered needlessly.
Many of us wonder if the effort of the government in denying the truth of what happened at the Lekki toll gate would eventually supersede, and the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) – managers of the toll gate – will return to tolling motorists in little time. That would directly amount to a sacrilege on the memory of those who died and injustice to those whose blood was spilt at that spot on Black Tuesday.
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