The Apostolic Round Table (ART) having read through the White Paper released by the Lagos State Government on the report submitted by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution of SARS-Related Abuses and Other Related Matters into the massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th of October, 2020 viewed the White paper a grand betrayal of trust of relatives of the dead, the injured, Lawyers, the Justice and everyone that participated in the over one year exercise. The White Paper also made it abundantly clear that the State government is under some “unknown” pressure that made it lost the will and independence to accept untainted truth.
The Author, Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi
Nigerians are not new to government at different levels setting up Panel of Inquiry to buy time after heinous human right crime has been committed against the people or when their common wealth were looted by the agent(s) or appointee(s) of the government that set up the Panel. Peradventure the panel’s report succeed in generating a White Paper, one can bet a hand that the recommendations will not be implemented. Governments knows that a breaking news of criminal events in another State, Ministry, Agency or Department will distract Nigerians attention.
The idea of picking and choosing the Panel’s recommendations to suit the State government appallingly shows disregard and disrespect for men and women of the bench and others that painstakingly listened to victims and witnesses during the sessions. Where is the notion that ‘you cannot be a judge in a case where you are a party’.
All the senseless conspiracy theories and fallacies from government legal team, officials and Abuja liars will suffer the same fate as lies concocted in the past. Initially, the soldiers were not invited but later the truth came up (that it was the governor that invited the murdering soldiers). Before, no live amunitions were used, now it was both live and rubber bullets. Before, It was a demon from hell that love darkness that switched off the lights, now it was the Toll Gate management staff carrying out instructions from an “unknown Director”. The C in C and his camp even tagged the protest “a coup decisively dealt with” (imagine a president’s thought!) We now know that the soldiers were actually briefed and came to deal with the “coup plotters” and restore the C-in-C to power. A minister even came uninvited, did a shameful “Inspector Parrot” tele-detective investigation and discovered an exhibit that he publicly declared he had handed over to the State government. Today, nothing was heard from the SAN turned Detective. Methink that what government had suffered from all these lies and manipulations will help it to change its approach and tactics and embrace genuine reconciliation and healing.
Only God knows who bewitched the State government to come out disputing the number of deaths as stated in the Panel’s report. What does this government stand to gain from reducing nine deaths to one, if not to irritate and enstrange itself from the people . When you invited and unleashed briefed soldiers, not with whips, batons or tear gas but with live amunitions on armless youths, what did you expect?. Need any one tell our governor that soldiers are only trained to “kill and destroy” more so that their C-in-C has declared the targets as “coup plotters”. It is not rocket science to know that “unknown soldier” are trained to ensure their victims (coup plotters) end in “unknown graves”. Please, ask the Orkars if Gideon Orkar’s s body was released to them for burial. Bodies of coup plotters, (I suppose) are properties of the Government. The debate about the number of dead bodies seen on the spot, in the mortuary or attended to by a Professor is irrelevant. The soldiers will let you see what they want you to see.
There are families out there who lost their loved ones to the senseless attack who were forced to accept their fate and declined appearing before the Panel for fear of being persecuted in future. They are vindicated today as people who showed courage to appear before the Panel are now being attacked by government sponsored lackeys.
Any efforts to twist and turn the Panel’s report will only worsen the battered image of this government on this incident. For example using Professor Obafunwa’s testimony as to the dead bodies examined by him, under cross-examination by the Lead Counsel to the victims of the Lekki Massacre, Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika SAN, the Professor claimed that he attended to ninety nine dead bodies between 20th and 24th of October, 2020. He further testified that three out of the ninety-nine dead bodies were from the Lekki Toll Gate and one out of the three had a projectile that penetrated his heart, leading to the loss of his life.
The questions then are:
1. Why did the White Paper shun and disregard the testimonies of the three leading #EndSARS protesters/eyewitnesses, to wit: (1) Serah Ibrahim (who led the contingent of Victims of Lekki Massacre and represented by Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika SAN), (2)Dabira Ayuku (who led the contingent of #EndSARS Protesters as represented by Adesina Ogunlana and (3) Ayo ADEMILUYI with Kamsy Ibeh (who was attacked by assailants a week ago). The witnesses testified under oath to the fact that they saw several dead bodies after the shooting by soldiers of the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Toll Gate on that fateful day of 20th of October, 2020? Ignoring their testimonies and asking them to come and walk with you is insulting sir.
2. Assuming without conceding that only one soul died at the Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th day of October, 2020, does it not behove the Lagos State Government to take responsibility after accepting all the recommendations of the Panel that confirmed same and tender unreserved apology to both wounded victims and families of those who died in the massacre?
3. How many number of people would have died at Lekki to extract compassion and apology from this government?
Only one man, George Perry Floyd Jr. died in the hands of Minneapolis, Minnesota police officers that generated global outrage (just like Lekki Toll Gate massacre). The officers were arraigned, tried and convicted. The Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota State Governor apologized and paid compensation to the family and the black community, the then Democratic Party Presidential candidate, Joe Bidden Jr. paid condolence visits. Where is wickedness and arrogance taking us to in this country?
Mr Governor, do you in all honesty believe that your proposed walk will be truly seen by men of good conscience as WALKING for peace and not as TRAMPLING on the grave of the dead, blood of the injured and the truth revealed in the Panel’s report. But again, Mr. Governor, why now? Moreso when nothing has been done yet to compensate victims and their family or punished anyone indicted in the Panel’s report before a walk of the type proposed can be embarked upon. You must have heard that most concerned and aggrieved have declined taking part in this TRAMPLING called WALKING.
Your Excellency, we just hope you will not descend so low to deceive yourself and yours (but the world will not be fooled) by mobilizing your party men, garage lackeys and street urchins who are at your beck and call and can be induced with SWAGA packs, to embark on the proposed TRAMPLING.
Some of the names mentioned in the State Governor’s press briefing have spoken. In their opposition to the planned walk, Mr. Adedayo (Mr.Macaroni) said “no one is warring with the government, what people want is justice”. Seun Kuti also in similar vein said: “it is justice that can bring peace”
Mr. Famoroti complained that “the people he would like to walk with are locked up in various cells and prisons”
To all the churches in Lagos State, the time is ripe to proof that there is still a healing balm in Gilead. We call on all our fathers in Lord: Pastor E.A Adeboye, Pastor W.F Kumuyi, Bishop David Oyedepo, Bishop Olumakaye, and other Generals in Christ, to please lead our Governor and State to the fountain of truth that makes for the healing of Lagos where the blood of innocent cries.
If the Governor really wants to walk his talk, he should personally invite aggrieved stakeholders (no security agencies for now please) to hear how the bereaved, hurt and injured can be assuaged. Money alone cannot heal the wounds occasioned by the incident.
The Panel has done it’s work, it is now in your court to show HUMILITY and LEADERSHIP. It will start from tendering GENUINE UNRESERVED APOLOGY to ALL on behalf of yourself, your government and all Agencies that were directly or remotely mentioned in the incident. This will set the tone for healing. You will be surprised at how victims will open up even more than they did during the Panel sessions.
However, instead of WALK FOR PEACE we will suggest a WALK FOR HEALING or WALK FOR JUSTICE.
Mr. Governor, you want PEACE, the people (the hurt and the bruised) want JUSTICE. Peace is a product of Justice. If it’s about putting the Lekki Toll Gate pain behind us, listen to the people first.
“Can Two Walk together except they be agreed?”
Dr. Bolaji Akinyemi
Bolaji O. Akinyemi