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  On the night of 20 October 2020, at about 6:50 p.m., members of the Nigerian Army opened fire on unarmed End SARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos. Ever since the political trajectory of the nation has changed dramatically, but not drastically. However, there has been renewed interest in politics, especially among young Nigerians. This is because most of those affected by the tragedy of police brutality were predominantly the youths. 
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What is most disheartening in this massacre is the recurring denials by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his government officials and supporters. The present presidential aspirant of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu quipped, “what were the protesters doing there?” Such a question only suggests how Tinubu is prepared to sacrifice the lives of Nigerians on the altar of his political ambition. Reliable sources as well as rumours indicated that since the protest was organized in Lagos, against the ruling party, it was a threat to his aspiration in 2023.  Anytime the discussion of the Lekki Massacre arises, many still think the event is a hoax. Where are the dead bodies? Cynics ask. Where were they buried? Mockers jest. Little wonder, Tinubu’s henchman, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo, denied the existence of the killings saying, “They said people died at EndSARS protests but where are the dead bodies? Where were they buried?” MC Oluomo queried in a mocking tone. “The people who died, don’t they have family members in Nigeria? Did the Nigerian government also bribe the mothers and siblings of the deceased from declaring them missing on social media?” This is to tell us what the present administration thinks of the killings – indifference and callousness.
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But were people killed at Lekki? According to the award-winning Freedom Investigative Journalism (FIJ), 20 people were killed in the shooting. They include Olalekan Abideen, About Solomon, Ifeanyi, John Doe, Aiyedungbe Gabriel Ayoola, Damilola Ogunleke, and so on. These reports were also confirmed by CNN, eyewitness accounts and reports from families of victims. Further, the Vanguard and Premium news reporters have confirmed the events of the killings with claims of over 40 people being injured. What is more shuddering is the report of eyewitnesses who claimed that some bodies were carried away by men of the security operatives. FIJ also reported that more than 20 people fell to the bullets of the army, but families of victims are afraid of speaking up, especially in a regime that does not endorse democracy. It is two years after the shootings. The question remains: Have lessons been learnt by Nigerians, especially the youths? Sadly, I do not want to sound pessimistic. Not much has been learnt. If truly Nigerians have learnt their lessons, then who are the youths pushing the presidential mandate of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed of the APC? If you visit Twitter and other spaces, you will watch to your utter dismay youths defending this administration that ordered the Lekki Shooting. Their reasons are obvious: ethnic affiliations, political patronage, and sheer selfish interests. 
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As the general election approaches, Nigerians are far becoming ethnically divided. This is of course the game plan of the political elites. Politicians can only win by creating ethnic and religious divisions. Sadly, it might seem that what happened at Lekki is fast becoming in vain; a revolution without physical and psychological effects. Nigerians must remember that when those shots were fired, it did not separate protesters and killed them according to their ethnicity, but brought down anyone regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliations. Christians were killed, and so as Muslims. Yorubas were killed, same as Igbos, Ibibios, and what-have-you.  One memorial note, celebrities and organizers of the 2020 EndSARS protest have concluded plans to hold a memorial in the Lekki area of Lagos State on Thursday. The planned memorial was disclosed in a flier shared by entertainer, Folarin Falana aka Falz the Bahd guy, on his Instagram page. According to the flier, participants would walk and drive to the tollgate where the Nigerian army allegedly opened fire on armless protesters who were demanding an end to police brutality. Finally, as Nigerians proceed to polls in February of 2023, they should remember that those who fell at Lekki should not die in vain. Just as they stood at Lekki as one, they must stand at the polls. Sacrifices must be paid and a nation must be rebuilt.  Featured Image Source: Daily Post NG
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This article was first published on 20th October 2022


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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