Tuesday, October 20, 2020 was a sad day in the history of Nigeria.
How it all started:
Mid October, 2020: Nigerian Youths got tired of the brutality and in-humane treatment of the Nigerian Police Force especially the Special Anti-Robbery squad units and decided to carry out peaceful protests across the Nation. It was one of the most coordinated events I have witnessed in my generation. The hashtag #ENDSARS was trending for days on social media and the international community was in the know. I was observing online and on social media how young people could be so self-less and coordinated in achieving a single goal. To say the least, I was proud of my generation and I had strong hopes.
Initially protests were peaceful and thus more people were encouraged to join. Celebrities took it on themselves to encourage the youths and be also present. There was a batch of those online ensuring that the conversations and updates trended and the world knew what was going on.
Then suddenly, it was in the news that the unit has been disbanded.
Nigerian youths were not having it for two reasons,
1- This meant that the so-called officers will be absorbed into other units of the Police Force and we were still at their mercy.
2- There have been several times in the past when it has been mentioned that they were disbanded but they were still actively functional and terrorising the layman.
Thus the protests continued.
Shortly afterwards, news filtered in that another unit SWAT (special weapons and tactics) was created.
This was the height for Nigerian youths because they felt this is like empowering the police with more sophisticated weapons.
The protests continued. Youths were arrested and man-handled but people and societies rallied round to get then bailed. Funds were contributed for relief materials and people sent food to protests grounds. Protests were held in various countries of the world where Nigerians could congregate and prayer protests/walks were carried out.
Later on, it was discovered that the Police in general were not well paid and the youths started to clamour for a general reforms in the Police Force. Although some were of the school of thought that a significant percentage of civil servants were paid within the same range and they did not harass the common man.
By the time, it got to a week, things took a new turn. First, hoodlums were allegedly sent to counter and attack the protesters. And then miscreants hijacked the protests and used the medium to perpetrate crimes.
It was getting getting messy but the youths were unshaken.
On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, The Lagos State Government declared a 24 hour curfew at noon to take effect from 4pm.
It was unbelievable because many people were out on their daily activities and Lagos being a very crowded city; telling everyone to return home immediately will lead to serious traffic congestion that will most likely make people stay on the road past 4pm.
The youths were unshaken. They still held a protest that evening at the Lekki Toll Gate (reportedly one of the most peaceful protest grounds).
I remember seeing videos of people still there and also a lot of cars stuck in the traffic. To say the least, I was proud of my generation.
And then tragedy struck.
The cameras at the Toll gate were turned off, the lights were turned off and there was a frenzy. Nigerian youths were said to sit on the floor while waiving the Nigerian flag and…
Out of the blues, soldiers open fire on them killing scores of people and causing far more casualties than we can account for at the moment.
Those who could still stream the event online did and it was too graphic for me to view most of it.
I had nightmares. Blood was spilled on the Nigerian flag.
The morning after, it was all over the news.
People were crying, mourning, looking for loved ones, checking on family and verbally attacking the authorities. Ambulances were sent to help victims, hospitals in Lagos were crowded, people volunteered to donate blood and relief materials. It was chaotic.
News flew fast and gradually, those suspected to be behind it were named.
The youth wanted vengeance.
Miscreants hijacked the protests and took to looting and destroying properties and police stations. It became far more bloody.
Priority had been misplaced and we seem to be attacking ourselves eventually. Even a day afterwards, there were shootings in various parts of the state and no one could say categorically who was involved.
The Lagos State Governor came out to address the people and talked about soldiers shooting, the Nigerian Army claimed they were not involved, the news stations seemed to be broadcasting conflicting news or watering the event down and fake news also went round leading to heightened fear.
It is chaotic!
It is sad.
People had to remain indoors and yet live in the fear of a stray bullet.
We are not sure where this is headed but all we want is peace. To be treated like a normal human being because no one is more Nigerian than another.
Reports and videos keep filtering in; too many graphic contents that I am incapable of viewing.
One event we could not but notice is the silence of our President so far, he has not physically addressed the nation and many people have lost hope.
It is sad.
P.S: This post is dedicated to all those who lost their lives due to police brutality as well as the fight for a better future. To fallen Heroes all over the country. You will always be remembered.