#EndSARS: How the government has gaslighted grieving Nigerians thus far | #YNaijaEndSARSupdate

When Nigerians took to the streets to protest against police injustices and the extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the now-defunct police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, no one could have imagined that it would spin around to claim the lives of scores of people.

The movement was peaceful despite several attempts by some oppositionists to brand it violent and overstretched. With many people interested in change due to bad governance that has long since appeared as a norm, the government placed themselves in a position where all their actions pointed to seeing that the protest is put to an end. Many Nigerians have posited that the government hired thugs and hoodlums to disrupt peaceful protests so they can employ violence to sanction protesters.

The police inspector general, Mohammed Adamu keyed into this narrative when he established an anti-riot squad to quell protesters after several reported cases of violence on protest grounds.

In Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu also propped up on the ‘hoodlum narrative‘ when he placed a curfew in the state, Tuesday, 20 October 2020, following several attacks by hoodlums and the torching of a police station in the state. This resulted in a critical turn of events that claimed the lives of many Nigerians protesting in Lekki area of the state.


READ ALSO – ‘No one died in Lekki toll gate shooting’ – Gov. Sanwo-Olu | #YNaijaEndSARSupdates

Despite several media reports and videos saying otherwise, Sanwo-Olu, addressing Nigerians and state residents over the incident, emphatically stated that the Lekki shootings didn’t claim any lives but left many injured. Speaking largely on his support for the protesters, he further stated that he had placed activities in the entire state on halt for three days.

The events from 20 October 2020 has left many Nigerians confused with emotions all over the place. It is worrisome to hear the Lagos state governor try to gaslight Nigerians with his whitewashed speech. It is also worrisome to have the Nigerian army deny attacking protesters when there are several clips on the internet refuting their claims.

On social media, Nigerian DJ Switch who was on an Instagram live at the location of the shooting gave Nigerians minute by minute updates with video contents. The footages showed people being shot by members of the Nigerian Army decked in their uniforms. There were people trying to rescue other protesters who had been shot, and clips of bodies lying around like logs of wood yet Sanwo-Olu would rather tell the world that nobody died; the Nigerian army would rather brand media reports as fake news.

Which leaves the questions: Who ordered the shoot? And why is Sanwo-Olu saying no one died?

Just before the shooting, there were reports of men arriving at the tollgate and reportedly uninstalling the CCTVs. Nigerians stated that as the day got darker, all the lights were turned off and the shooting began.

The denial of responsibility is outrageous, and Nigerians deserve better than placating speeches and press releases that asks for peace, yet the opposite is being delivered in riffle packages.

In essence, the #EndSARS protest was only seeking a permanent change to bad governance and an end to police brutality. However, the Nigerian government have made continual efforts to frustrate the protest, hiding under the guise of supporting it if it remains peaceful. In a democracy, peaceful protesters should be protected.  If indeed you support peaceful protests, you should not order a massacre to deter protesters even if they fault curfew orders. If indeed you support peaceful protests, you shouldn’t lie to the faces of people who are still grieving having watched fellow comrades die on an Instagram live. But the government doesn’t support peaceful protests. The government only seems to support the gaslighting of Nigerians.


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