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Drone footage of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate Plaza

Anybody in Kaduna in 2015 witnessed the dramatic sounds of deafening gunshots, almost like a Busta rhymes flow as it continues for hours. Hours after this unpleasant opera ended, it was discovered that the Nigerian Army had tried to stop the Shiite from protesting but their inability to achieve that led them to open fire on unarmed Nigerian citizens. 348 Nigerian citizens lost their lives that very day as the Nigerian Army still seized some corpses to Bury off in shallow graves making the Shiit to lose both their lives and their existence as they’ve been deprived of the proper burial rights.

For many southerners, this was seen as a response to the “North extremist organisation” not much was put into it. The president, as always, made no appeal, never visited the site, never consoled the people and disregarded the deaths. Then Northerners on the other hand, forgave him, largely because “he’s part of us” agenda as they got him re elected, little did they know they’ve not seen the worst of this general.

Nigeria for the past few weeks have been going through a memorial phase and a rethink of the activities of the teeming youths yearning for one basic thing, which is to be able to live. The sad reality however is that, the president of Nigeria is 77 years old and the probability of him living to be come 100 years old is higher than that of a 17 year old living to celebrate his 24th birthday. This is because of the activities of the police force and to a very large extent the rogue Unit: SARS, who from every indication has been given carte blanched in dealing with criminal activities.

Originally, the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) unit was created in the wake of increase armed robbery and kidnapping to tackle the menace and bring to book those that are found wanting.

However, over time they’ve changed their course of action to profiling Youths as “Yahoo boys” which is a Nigerian connotation for internet fraudsters. They profile them by having dreads, iPhone, driving a car or even dying your hair and this lead to extortion in large amount and sometimes extra judicial killing which they get away with all the time. It got so bad that a youth informed me in confidence that he was once accosted to the ATM station and he was asked to withdraw money, he gave them 150,000 and they asked to check his account balance, they saw 450,000 in the account and they asked him to withdraw it all. This is still subjacent considering what other Nigerian face everyday from this unit.

In the wake of Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary, a video surfaced on the Internet showing a young man being dragged on the floor across the road by SARS officials, he was then shot twice and then they drove off in his car. This incident spark a lot of outrage online, especially on twitter as teeming youths begin to speak about it and how they’ve been terrorising them for decade. This sparked a protest which commenced in the commercial capital of Nigeria, Lagos and later spread to more than 20 states in the federation. The protests tagged #EndSars generated a lot of interest from basically Youths and got the attention of both local and international media reportage.

Their demands include, scrapping this rogue police unit, compensation for the families that have lost loved ones to the police, immediate release of arrested protesters, Wide range police reforms including increase of police salary and finally a psychological evaluation of these police officers before sending them to the streets.

This impromptu decision to protest turned into an amazing organization as for the first 10 days of this protest which was championed by Nigerian pop stars, Runtown and Falz. Nigerian feminist organization, Feminist.co Help to solicit funds through Feyikemi Abudu from the general public. They didn’t just get the money, they also disbursed funds when needed. This includes getting food, water, raincoats for when it rains, flyers for sensitization, medical bills for those injured and also legal aids for those arrested by the police in the course of the protest. It was jaw dropping the organization of a protest that had no leader, yes you heard right, no leader. Everyday always ends with an account of the amount spent and amount left which was an accountability trait Nigerians have never witnessed with their government. Protesters were amazing also, as they cooperated with each other even as the pretty got to other states, and they also start the act of cleaning up protesters grounds after each day of protest which just shows unity in this fight.

In a country that’s largely segregated by religious penchants, the Muslim brothers and sister who joined the protest, prayed on the protest ground on Friday and they were protected by their Christian protesters which is one of the most lovely things I’ve witnessed as a Nigerian. On Sunday, a service was also held on the ground and everybody joined as they prayed for the country with hope that their decisions will be listened to by the government and life can go on.

On Tuesday, 10th of October, 2020, like every other day on the protests ground was merry, especially on the Lekki toll gate plaza. This day however was preceded by a lot of incidents around the country. On Monday, there have been videos circulating of thugs and hoodlums, using the protests as a means to do their evil deeds. There were even videos of Government vehicles organizing thugs to disrupt peaceful protesters and cause mayhem for them. This led to disruption of people investments and this also led to police officers killing more Nigerians. On Tuesday, Amnesty International declared that 14 Nigerians have been killed by the force. Sadly, that was just a miniature incident. Earlier that day, the camera on the toll gate was removed and people raised alarm but it was waived. Next, people noticed that the billboard which has never gone off 365 days in a year suddenly shuts off that evening. Then as it gets darker, it was noticed that the street light has been put off too which is very awkward because the light also never goes off. Earlier in the day though, the Lagos state governor had announced initially a curfew of 4pm to curb the security challenges in the state, he later however change it to 9pm seeing how insensitive and impossible it is for state like Lagos with its population for people to get home that early. This didn’t stop the tragedy that happened next.

At about after 7pm on this fateful Tuesday, as protesters spots the coming military vehicles with armed men coming towards them, they stood their ground, sinkhole the national anthem and washing the Nigerian flag but this didn’t deter the military men who within a twinkle of an eye, opened fire on these peaceful protesters. As the bullets rain on them, they were screams and tears and the anthem didn’t stop but this didn’t stop the Army under Buhari’s leadership to open fire on these Citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Amongst the protesters was Djswitch, who in this carnage and misery still did an Instagram live to show us what went on during this incident. The whole world could see as they were being shot at and people were falling and they were removing bullets from injured people’s legs. She claimed that not less than 15 people, died that night. The military since have denied being on the road that night, the state governor deny knowing who those men are, the presidency doesn’t even see it fit to mention the incident when he was addressing the nation days later. This further buttress my first paragraph and his long standing tradition of having bloods of innocent civilians on his hands and disregarding the issue as just another day.

Till this day, no single officer have been charged for extra judicial killing, no single army officer have been arrested for the Lekki massacre, no single public official have been sacked for the incident as the president threatens the protesters to stop protesting or face whatever they see.

Personally, this is a defining point in Nigeria’s history. The youths have made a visible and tangible point that they see and know what is going on and now they’re ready to “SORO SOKE” (Speak Up) against bad governance. Will this momentum be maintained? Whatever the case, the SOROSOKE generation will forever be remembered in history because of this 14 days!

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