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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Two Years After, Nigerians Mourn Victims of Lekki Massacre

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Exactly two years ago (October 20, 2020) the entire country was plunged into mourning following shootings in the Lekki Tollgate allegedly carried out by the Nigerian Army to stop the youths protesting against police brutality.

Recall that Nigerian youths across the country had in October 2020, staged nationwide protest over extrajudicial killings by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

At about 6:50 p.m on October 20, 2020, officers of the Nigerian Army allegedly opened fire on unarmed protesters who converged at the Lekki Tollgate, leading to the death of several unsuspecting citizens.

A report by Amnesty International stated after the incident that at least 12 protesters were killed by the Nigerian military.

A day after the incident, on 21 October, the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-olu, initially denied reports of any loss of lives, but later admitted in an interview with a CNN journalist that “only two persons were killed”.

The President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government had also claimed that there was no single evidence to prove that any protester was killed at the tollgate.

Meanwhile organisers and victims of the ENDSARS protests, have called for the full implementation of the reports of the judicial panels of inquiry set up by the government to probe the protests just as it promised to hold a memorial rally in honour of those killed during the October 2020 ENDSARS protests at the Lekki tollgate and other areas across the country today.

Speaking during the second anniversary of the ENDSARS protests, Ayoyinka Oni, who spoke on the theme ‘ENDSARS justice now: Justice delayed is justice denied’, called for full compensation of victims of protest, saying there should not be any back door payments.

Oni, who is the leader of the Takeitback group, demanded among others the release of all incarcerated over EndSARS compensation by the state for jailing them unjustly.

He said, “As you would recall, the #EndSARS movement was a spontaneous rebellion of Nigerian youths who have borne the scars of illegal detentions; missing loved ones and extra-judicial murders of family members and friends by police, and the military-like repression by a supposedly democratic government.

“As you would recall, we were violently attacked at different times during the almost three weeks of our glorious resistance by armed security personnel of the state, and vagabonds who were revealed to have been backed by agencies of the state, as captured in several videos circulated on social media. The vehicles of #EndSARS protesters were burnt in Abuja; and known thugs associated with the ruling party were unleashed on protesters in several states, including Lagos, Osun and Anambra. In Abuja, on the same day that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, was banned, the police used water cannons against protesters, and would later fire volleys of teargas canisters.”

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