#EndSARS Memories in a peace park
Those who allegedly killed during the #EndSARS protests must have done a perfect job of perfectly destroying the evidence. Events that happened that day leaned heavily toward the side of those who alleged. That night, it was lights-out at the Lekki Toll Plaza.
The CCTV cameras at the Plaza were removed earlier that day. If you want to deny that what happened at the Lekki Toll Plaza on October 20, 2020, was anything less than a premeditated massacre, you have to resolve the mystery behind the removal of the CCTV cameras at the Plaza that day; in a place where human life still has any meaning, only one verifiable death at the Lekki Toll Plaza is worth a million deaths. That the government ordered soldiers to “control” a peaceful protest with live bullets is more than enough indictment. But this is Nigeria. We are already used to tragedies and at home with deaths, the most avoidable of them. Responsible people do not haggle the number of dead bodies; they mourn that even a single life is lost in the hands of those employed to protect the same life. But again, this is Nigeria.
I pity the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the #EndSARS protest because it was sent on an impossible mission, to find what could not be found. That is why some of its recommendations are understandably confusing and some outright empty. The panel’s report could be in truth nothing more than Tales by the Moonlight that Oga Lai called it. Is not even the almighty law powerless in the absence of evidence? The panel was by default established to find nothing and it did find nothing, nothing extraordinarily revelatory, nothing more than we already read from different sources.
If the #EndSARS has taught us any lesson, obviously it is not about the revolutionary power of youth. Fundamentally, the #EndSARS protests taught us how not to fight the government, especially one that has a history of supervising the massacre of its own citizens and suffers no consequence. Also, it teaches us that it takes tact, and not brashness, to fight a government whose actions, no matter how odious, inhuman and unjust, are legitimated by the consent of a majority of the citizens. Also, the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests has taught us that as much as it is good to Soro Soke, it is wise to not speak so loudly to stop the ears from listening. A loud voice is good, but it is better when complemented with a good pair of functional ears.
Lastly, the #EndSARS protests taught us that revolution cannot happen as long as the majority of the oppressed daily worship the oppressors; we cannot win the war against oppression until the oppressed identify the oppressors for who they truly are.
As the Lagos State government has proposed, let us proceed to bury the memories of #EndSARS victims at a Lagos Peace Park. If we do, we will soon get over the argument over the number of victims. The oppressors will then return to their businesses and the oppressed to theirs. We will return to pick up the strategies with which we cope with the tragedy that governance here is. And in all we do, we will never forget that here, LIFE – yours and mine – is assured only to the degree of the sanity of the mind of those employed to protect it and to the degree of the morality of those who command them. Here, killers do not pick and choose their victims. Those who hail the killers today may be the victims tomorrow. This is Lagos. This is Nigeria.
• Oladapo is of the University of Ibadan.