A lot has happened in Nigeria since the #EndSARS protests and various human rights activists have weighed in on the issue.
Lawyer and social critic, Dele Farotimi, shared his thoughts on the events around the #EndSARS protest on Thursday, in an interview with Arise News.
Here are ten powerful lessons we learnt from the interview:
1. #EndSARS protest is symbolic of the fact that young Nigerians rose to fight against an oppressive system upon the realization that their citizenship had been stolen from them by the State
“… when you speak about #EndSARS, let’s be clear, it’s a situation where young people who have been told that they are citizens of the world came to the realization of the fact that they really cant’s be citizens of the world if they can’t be citizens in their own country because functionally, the Nigerian is essentially a self, serving the ruling class.“
2. The sanctity of human life means nothing to the political class
“It is only in Nigeria that you’ll find the madness of a man who is paid and maintained with public funds, having the temerity and the inhumanity to turn his gun on what is supposed to be a citizen.
“If we even play out the worst case scenarios and accept that we are not citizens, surely, our humanity must not be denied. Each and every one of the Holy Scriptures set out clear rituals when you seek to slaughter an animal for food. You recite certain verses in the Quran before you could slaughter even a chicken. The same thing is found in the Bible but it is only in Nigeria a man paid and maintained with my taxes can actually turn his gun with impunity and kill.”
3. Impunity thrives unchecked and lawlessness is the order of the day where the political class is concerned
“I knew immediately they started talking #EndSARS, that they were seeking something beyond SARS. SARS is just a code word for impunity, that’s what it really is. SARS is the capacity of the state or any of its agents to act without recourse to law, legality or even any pretense that they are dealing with citizens who are deserving of rights.
“So when the young people started talking of #EndSARS, I knew that ultimately, they were going to end up testing the will of the Nigerian State. And this is not a State that is … anchored to law in any way, shape or form. It might pretend to be, but the reality is that the Nigerian State is incapable of obeying the law or being governed by law and that was exactly what proved to be the case.”
4. The issues young Nigerians are seeking to address are endemic and beyond #EndSARS
“The #EndSARS question you’ve just asked is a long one and there are so many baggages to unpack I don’t even know where to start from really, but let’s get it clear, what the young people were asking for was essentially citizenship – their right to be respected.“
5. The government’s sinister approach to handling the #EndSARS protest is merely history repeating itself
“… what the Nigerian State has done is not unlike what it has always done when confronted by the demand for citizenship by any party of the citizenry.
“It happened in Odi, it happened in Zakibiam, it happened in Ogoni land. The last time I saw what I believe just happened in Lekki was in Ikorodu Road, November 9, 1993 – soldiers killing with impunity and taking away the bodies.”
6. The government and all parties involved are only pretenders who do not care about unearthing the truth about the Lekki shooting to ensure that justice is served
“And when this has happened, what do you find? – Concerted efforts at concealing and stifling the truth.
“This time around, they have set up a panel in Lagos State…. Let me repeat myself again now and you can take this to the bank, Lagos State government does not dare to allow the panel that is currently sitting in Lekki to sit, neither does the Nigerian Government or the Nigerian Army.
“They might pretend that they are interested in finding the truth but I guarantee you and I triple dare them to allow that panel to sit. There are ongoing shenanigans to ensure that that panel is truncated – them finding all of a sudden that people who are funding peaceful protests are terrorists. It is designed to ensure that the youth representative on that panel walks away. It is an act of provocation. Nobody sits down to negotiate with a man who has a gun on the table.“
7. Only resilience on the part of the youth would reveal the truth to the world
“As much as I would have begged and urged that those young people remain on the panel if only to show the lies of this government to the entire world. I really have no control over what they do but I am saying here and now that the Lagos state government, Jide Sanwo-Olu, the LCC, the Nigerian Army and everybody connected thereto have no interest in uncovering the truth of what happened in Lekki. The concerted efforts are the lies, the many… dimensions to the madness that they are calling investigation. I sit here and I say it on my honour, I challenge them, I dare them to allow that panel to work.”
8. What happened at the Lekki Toll-gate was criminal
“Let people stop fooling themselves, we are dealing with a criminal, reprobate bunch of rulers and I repeat it again, there are clear evidences I have seen with my own eyes and I have spoken with survivors, eye-witnesses.“
9. The earlier the State takes responsibility for its criminal actions against its citizens, the sooner the nation will heal
“So let people stop fooling themselves – what happened in that place, it is criminal and the Lagos state government is criminally responsible and should actually not even begin to pretend – the sooner it comes out, acknowledges its part in what has happened, take responsibility for what has happened, the quicker we can all heal.“
10. Truth dies in darkness when it is stifled
But to turn around and seek to demonize people who have merely demanded rights, common! At the end of the day, truth dies in darkness.”
Watch the full interview here: