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October 20: Remembering the unforgettable

By Segun Ige
21 October 2021   |   3:54 am
Sir: For one reason or another, the “10/20” should be our own historic version of the “9/11.” October 20, 2020 was a momentous landmark in the political history of Nigeria – which ought to be documented in the history books of the country...

Sir: For one reason or another, the “10/20” should be our own historic version of the “9/11.” October 20, 2020 was a momentous landmark in the political history of Nigeria – which ought to be documented in the history books of the country – and therefore taught to pupils and students, making them realise the significance of such contested, interferential, breathtaking political juggernaut.

Hash-tagged #EndSARS, October 20, 2020 telegraphed how a group of supposedly peaceful protesters (angry mobs, some people called them, potentially revenging against the anarcho-syndicalist system of government), mostly juveniles, were reportedly left in the pool of blood – some killed, others ghastly injured. In the meantime the police claimed they’d simply fired rubber bullets to disperse the strategic, aggressive and aggrieved protesters. Evidence on social media, however, shows a certain level of misinformation concerning the Lekki Tollgate crack down.

Sooner or later, the CNN obviously disinterestedly but surprisingly came out with its own investigation of the bric-a-brac. Fact-checking and dissecting the nuances of the footage, it enormously became clear in the thoroughgoing analysis that literally rubber bullets weren’t fired. Consequently, Lai Mohammed, a minister of Information, passionately repudiated the interference of the American media, condemning its coverage and overreliance on contemptible, unfounded sources. To him, the incidence at the Lekki Tollgate was ‘bodiless” and “bloodless.”

What could have been the genesis of such rebuttal: That the social media, notably Twitter, is an unreliable source for news coverage? To me, far from it: not in the age of digital journalism! And it would have been preposterous, if that’s the position Mohammed held, to solely and subjectively for whatever reason, consider the social media a site where heaps of truth are dumped. Undoubtedly the role of the social media in investigative journalism is even more indispensable in the century we are in, where the news is at everyone’s fingertips.

What seemed to be a cryogenic protest soon became fomented as hoodlums and criminals fervently took to streets, imposing street bumps, causing impediments for white-collar staffers and wreaking havoc particularly, starting from the city of Lagos. I remember, clearly and vividly, how the TVC Communications was set ablaze; how a number of police stations and official buses were charred; and how notable belligerent local police officers and well-known politicians understandably became a target.

Of course, hoodlums and miscreants hijacked the legitimate pretext of the burgeoning, loud-and-clear-message protesters.

Let’s call them circumstantial opportunists: they could not but rock down on banks, burglarising ATMs and ultimately reducing the intentionality of the police-brutality protest to some rubble.

To the youth, this is not the time to be villainously glorifying the darkness of October 20, hence begrudging the leaders, come 2023. And to Buhari, first, where are the billions of naira earmarked to potentially provide job opportunities and other incentives that would ameliorate and ease up the tension? Secondly and most importantly, are we really remembering, if we are, what are we really remembering it for? I think October 20 is as extremely and equally memorable as October 1.

Segun Ige is a freelance journalist in Lagos.

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