by Ayodele Ibiyemi
In the evening of October 20, 2020, peaceful protesters at the Lekki Tollgate were shot at by Nigerian security operatives. These protesters were holding the Nigerian flag and singing the National Anthem as they were being shot at. These scenes were captured by some protesters and the apprehension in their voices as they sang the anthem was eerie. By happenstance, a disc jockey, DJ Switch went live on her Instagram account and showed the entire world how peaceful protesters were gunned down. Live bullet casings were also picked from the scene and the weapons used were confirmed by citizens as military-grade weapons.
However, the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in the early hours of Tuesday announced on his Twitter account that he regrets the incident and posted pictures of him visiting some casualties in the hospital. In one of the pictures, the wounded person turned his face away as the Governor observed. Also, none of the wounded people whose pictures were posted had gunshot wounds. One of the tweets read:
“There are currently 10 patients at the Gen Hospital, 11 at Reddington and 4 at Vedic; with mild to moderate levels of injuries while 2 are receiving intensive medical care. 3 patients have been discharged & we will continue to monitor and ensure all patients get the best care.”
Hours after the entire world saw Nigerian security operatives shooting unarmed protesters on camera; the Governor announced that no casualty was recorded. Also, in his early morning broadcast, he reaffirmed the official state government stance that no one died. This attempt at rewriting the incident might have been surprising if the security operatives who shot the people had not picked the corpse and taken them away.
The Governor then committed a blunder by announcing that the state flags at government establishments will be flown at half-mast for the next 3 days.
2. The lowering of the flags in all government establishments for 3-days.
3. The constitution of a 5-man Fact-Finding Committee into the Rules of Engagement ordered & adopted by the Nigerian Army to be headed by a retired military officer not less than the rank of a General
— Babajide Sanwo-Olu (@jidesanwoolu) October 21, 2020
If no one died, why then is the state flag flying at half-mast? To answer this question, one would have to retrace the issue to the removal of the CCTV cameras the previous day, the deliberate shutting down of streetlights and billboards.
These all go on to show the well-orchestrated plan by the Nigerian state to kill and erase the memory of protesters. This is also just a preface and more should be expected if nothing drastic is done and the memory of the dead protesters is not honoured.