OPINION: THE ARMY, POLICE SHOT NIGERIAN YOUTHS AT THE BARRICADE

The Nigerian youths are angry and have poured into the streets in several states of Nigeria to display their anger in protests. For about two weeks now, the youths have continued their street protests demanding for the authorities to abolish SARS, a notorious crime fighting department of the Nigeria Police for their extra-judicial killing, torture, maiming, extortion, assault and rape of their female victims. Since the police and government authorities have completely ignored the cries of members of the public concerning this dreaded security outfit for years, the youths have decided to liberate themselves. It is on record that several innocent souls have been dispatched to their untimely death by this criminal gang with nobody to give account. Those who survived the ordeal are living dead today, they have told their stories in the hands of these evil men, a very pathetic one.

What these #EndSars protesters have defined is that the youths are sick and tired of the system. The system that allows all manner of injustice, brutality, arbitrariness and killings visited on the youths of this country by security agencies surely requires some adjustment. The youths have decided to take up the gauntlet and demand for the federal government to stop the brutality and improve the welfare of the police. This is a bottled up anger of many years. A disappointment that no government over the years have done anything meaningful to address. For the Nigerian youths, #EndSars protest have brought an opportunity for them to challenge the government elected by them to listen to their cries. To them, it is now or never, a battle, though this battle will not be fought throwing stones, wielding dangerous weapons against any person, not even at the police or government officials, but it is all about occupying the streets peacefully until something positive happens. These young men and women are marching on.

In their demands they are also calling on the government to improve the welfare of the police. So, it is difficult to begrudge these youths in their determination, insistence, organization and demands. They have been provoked, attacked by undesirable elements but they have remained unperturbed and resolute in this protest. They are focused in their demands and insistence. For the first time in history, the Nigerian youths are on the streets, day and night, without the traditional activists, student or labour unions leading. The sons and daughters of the big in the society are part and parcel of the protest, they are daily mobilizing funds to cater for their feedings, drinks, medicals and other exigencies. They have hired private security men to protect protesters from hoodlums, they clean the streets of all rubbish each day, provide parking spaces for vehicles so as not to block the roads. The government did not take advantage of their peaceful conduct but decided to do otherwise.

It is shocking that the Nigerian Army would be unleashed on the peaceful protesters of the #EndSars in different parts of the country. The Army did not go to Orile-Iganmu in Lagos, where hoodlums sacked and burnt a police station, looted weaponry, the Army did not make any move to protect the Benin prison when hoodlums went to set inmates free, they went to Lekki toll gate where protesters gathered peacefully. A place that has witnessed and received commendation for their organization, discipline in the way and manner they have protested. These youths were not armed, they did not throw stones at the military yet the Nigerian Army opened fire on defenceless and unarmed Nigerian youths. We warned when the army told us of Crocodile Smile exercise. We suspected when the CCTV Cameras and lightings at the Lekki toll gate yesterday were disabled now, this is the result, massacre of our children in cold blood. The Nigerian Army opened fire and killed our children.

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The killing of the Nigerian youths by Nigerian soldiers yesterday, October 20, 2020 is purely a genocide. A genocide against its youths, peaceful, defenceless and unarmed youths. A pre-meditated murder was visited on our youths by the military yesterday. What happened at Lekki axis in Lagos was a well-rehearsed, planned attack on Nigerian youth. It is on record that hoodlums were recruited, armed and brought to the venues of the protests in Abuja and Lagos to support the attack by the military on the #EndSars protesters and their supporters. The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari will not go scot free for this evil, the blood of the massacred youths remain on him. Nigerians and the international community now see him as blood thirsty. He has lost every respect both here and outside.

The Nigerian activists and democratic institutions must document all these atrocities and ensure that President Buhari faces the International Criminal Court, an example must be set that never again would any leader champion the killings of defenceless citizens.

*** Written by Uzodinma Nwaogbe / 0708.438.1845