Updated: Sep 26, 2021
Nigeria | Lekki | 25th September 2021 | Virtual Wire
October 20th 2020 can not be forgotten so soon by many Nigerians as the memory of what transpired on that eventful day is one too heavy to be forgotten.
It is over 365days that some innocent Nigerian youths were gruesomely murdered by men of the Nigerian armed forces at Lekki toll gate in Lagos state Nigeria, yet no single individual has been prosecuted for that atrocious saga. In a bid to pressurize their government to look into the various atrocities of men of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian Police, the youth decided to stage a Nationwide peaceful protest with placards, demanding an end to the activities of the said department. This protest later become one of the largest protests that rocked the African region in 2020 among others like 'Sudan is Bleeding', 'Shut it all Down' etc.
The SARS is a unit that was created to ensure an end to criminal activities in the nation and to give a rapid response when called upon, but this unit has of late resorted to all manner of brutality against the citizens that they vowed to protect. They extort citizens, arrest people without a warrant, confiscate phones and other electronic gadget, shot people at the slightest provocation, detain citizens without charging them to court etc. Reports gathered on the streets shows that some members of this unit were so dipped into these uncivil and unprofessional ways of handling issues to the extent that even the good ones among them were forced to join the train.
In an attempt to give a comprehensive report, Virtual Wire contacted Jaachi Anyatonwu, an eyewitness to the protest who gave the following report."October 20, 2020, was a dark day for Nigeria youths who hoped for a better Nigeria. It was on a Tuesday, and I was at home gearing up for a mega #ENDSARS protest that will take off in Aba the following day being Wednesday — I was among a volunteer team who planned the protest — when news filtered in of the massacre in Lekki - Lagos. It was 'dispiriting. Before then, there were pockets of violent protests in Aba. On my way home that day, I was shaken by the level of damage done by hijackers of the protests. It was a gloomy day for me because that wasn't what we had expected.
Regarding the Lekki Toll Gate massacre, the toll was unclear, but witnesses said several people were shot. The military was deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate area, an upscale suburb of Lagos, where the biggest ongoing protests have been held, largely peacefully, since October 7, 2020. Beginning at around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the military began firing — shortly after the streetlights unexpectedly went out and security cameras were removed from the scene, witnesses who were in Lagos said. I watched the video of DJ Switch, one of the protesters who streamed the scene live on Instagram. She counted seven casualties around her. Sporadic gunfire went on for about an hour.
With Nigerian flags in their hands and husky and tired voices, they harmoniously sang in solidarity the Nigerian anthem while the military opened fire on them. October 20, 2020, was indeed a dark day for Nigeria youths who hoped for a better Nigeria." The initial demands placed on the federal government by the protesters were originally five at first, but as they met and consulted among themselves after the military opened fire on them, it increased to twenty-three. The first five demands were as follows:-
1. The immediate release of all arrested protesters
2. Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensations for their families.
3. Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reported police misconduct within a period of 10 days
4. Carrying out psychological evaluation and retaining of all disbanded SARS operatives before they can be redeployed (this should be verified by an independent body).
5. The government should increase police salary and they should be adequately compensated for protecting the lives and property of the citizens.
The new demands made were: 1. End SARS. 2. Sack security chiefs. 3. Improve security. 4. Full deregulation oil and gas sector to allow more investments for job creation. 5. Immediate passage of PIB (Petroleum Industry Bill). 6. Full deregulation of the power sector to allow investment capital flow to generate, transmit and distribute more power and create jobs. 7. The government Should handoff petroleum pricing to enable free-market determination of pricing. 8. Close Nigerian northern borders to stop the free entry of Fulani herdsmen and bandits. 9. Inclusive government for all tribes and regions of Nigeria with 50% youths in charge of governance. 10. Allocate more funds to the education sector to provide better teaching tools and to pay better salaries to end ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) strikes. 11. Change the Nigerian academic curriculum to reflect modern-day realities. 12. All Nigerian politicians should be placed on minimum wage to attract genuine public servants. 13. Migrate to 100% electoral reforms with electronic voting tied to the BVN and GSM of citizens. 14. Return Nigeria to regional governance structure or restructure the country and embrace true federalism, to make states autonomy paramount. 15. Disbanding of the bicameral legislature and adoption of a unicameral legislature. 16. To immediately reform Nigeria police force and to let every state or region create its own police service. 17. To remove budgets for running private affairs of elected and appointed public servants in the country's budget. 18. To enthrone university education as a minimum qualification for public office holders at all levels of government from the president to local government and ward chairpersons. 19. To strip ex-governors and all elected and appointed public servants of all benefits after office. 20. To increase salaries of doctors, nurses, teachers, police, military officers, and civil servants in Nigeria. 21. For the government to hands-off ownership and management of businesses at all levels. 22. To name and shame looters and make criminal offenders, and looters face trial in their home states and villages to shame them and their families. 23. To stop foreign medical trips for public servants.
The protesters were certain that with the activation of these 23 demands, the protesters say allow normalcy return to the country, but their demands were met with bullets from members of the Nigerian armed forces, and forceful arrest by members of the Nigerian police and use of tear gas to disperse
protesters. Up to date, Nigerians are still asking, who gave the order?