ENDSARS: Fresh Stench From Sanwo-Olu’s Mass Grave (1)
By Tunde Odesola
It is the saddest night of October 2020. Nobody spoke except the shovels in their hands, heaping sand on slain bodies, bones and blood in a shallow mass grave. Secretly, they buried a great number of unnamed, unfortunate citizens in the still of the night. One, two, three…20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, and more and more corpses. Did the Fulani-Oyo War kill that much?
After the indecent burial, the undertakers left for home, wiping sweat off their dirty brows, their heavy boots stained with blood-red earth. Compunction is not a function of their heart.
Theirs was a cycle of tragedy, the victims. They suffered while alive, died horrible deaths, and were dumped in a mass grave by the caring Lagos State Government.
On your mark, get set, go! A sprinter and a marathoner set out on a race around the earth. The sprinter shoots forward like a bullet and is gone out of sight. Unperturbed, the marathoner gets off the block – slow, steady and sure-footed.
Bullets don’t fly forever. But the wind does. After the trigger clicks, bullets soon lose their speed, poison and they drop flat. But the wind, silent and unseen, goes on and on and on like forever.
The sprinter-marathoner and bullet-wind metaphors are my picturalisation of falsehood and truth. Many a time when falsehood bolts out on a race, truth is in bed, snoring. Truth, never in a hurry, effusing its fragrance, is certain to overpower the odour of falsehood in the long run.
Another metaphor. Thunder and lightning! Both are energies: one is sound, the other is light. Falsehood rumbles like thunder, heard far and near. Truth is silent like lightning, its light travels 670 million mph in contrast to thunder’s sound which travels 768 mph. Like lightning, truth kills its adversaries, but thunder is impotent like falsehood – all sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Who goes there? Friend or foe? I’m a friend; a friend to truth. I’m an enemy of falsehood, injustice and wickedness. But I’m not an enemy of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the little BOSs of Lagos, crouching behind the real BOSS, who departed Bourdillion to live on the Rock in Abuja. I’m an honest friend of the governor and the govfather. And, I’m here ready to defend the little BOSs against unhealable ENDSARS activities, activists and victims.
It’s sad the enemies of Sanwo-Olu won’t allow him to ‘drink water and keep cup’ since the bitter 2023 governorship election in Lagos State. It’s sad the ghosts of ENDSARS victims mowed down by government forces in various parts of Lagos won’t just rest in peace. It’s sad the legs of the corpses won’t stay buried in the grave, they just keep sticking out, pointing accusing toes at Abuja who sent out the messengers of death, and the little boss who did the dirty job of giving a descent burial to the wretched souls.
I’ll defend Sanwo-Olu. Yes, I’ll. What did the protesters expect when they laid siege to the city, and disrupted buying and stealing? Sorry, I mean, selling. Did they think they were in Ghana, the Benin Republic, US or UK? Didn’t they know that he, who said, “The dog and baboon would be soaked in blood,” was in power? Didn’t they know that the man who asked mourning Akure people to show proof that herdsmen killed their daughter, was eyeing the ultimate prize? Did they expect the government to fold its hands and watch political investments go down in ruin?
I’ll tell some truth. After jackboots cracked skulls, twisted ribs and broke limbs at the Lekki tollgate, a fidgety Sanwo-Olu washed his hands off the dastardly act, telling Nigerians he didn’t know who deployed soldiers to ambush the protesting youths. In a ThisDay story, Sanwo-Olu said, “I don’t know how the officers got it all wrong because the instruction we gave was that the police won’t be out until 10–10:30pm when all citizens should have gotten to their homes. This is totally against what we stand for.”
More words spew forth from his mouth, “The army does not report to me, I have reported the matter to the highest command in the military. It’s not something we are going to gloss over. A judicial panel will be set up to investigate it. I have escalated it to the highest level of the military.”
The BOSS of BOSs, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, during a visit to Sanwo-Olu, said, “If he (Sanwo-Olu) didn’t order the attack, who ordered the attack? That’s all I needed from him.”
But the Nigerian Army shot down the defence of Sanwo-Olu, saying the governor invited the military. The Army’s response wasn’t done in a hurry, like most of the actions of Sanwo-Olu. It took one week of measured silence for the Army to respond to Sanwo-Olu.
Reacting, then spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, Major Osoba Olaniyi, in a statement, said the Lagos State Government invited it to the tollgate to enforce a curfew. “The decision to call in the police was taken by the Lagos State Government after a 24-hour curfew was imposed…The situation was fast degenerating into anarchy. It was at this point that LASG requested for the military to intervene in order to restore normalcy.”
After the rebuttal by the Army, the state government, in a volte-face, said the governor never denied calling in the Army. But he also never admitted to inviting them at all! So, who’s shifty here? Why make the Army look as if they came into the fray uninvited? That doesn’t show a chief executive with balls. That was cheap.
A Senior Special Assistant to Sanwo-Olu on New Media, Mr Jubril Gawat, later said, “Mr Governor never denied this. They were supposed to come after the curfew.”
When the truth got lost between the Army and the state government over who invited soldiers to Lekki, Nigerians would be foolish to believe the wolf cry by both institutions that no life was lost at Lekki.
I won’t taint Governor Sanwo-Olu with a bloody brush. I won’t allow uncouth youths and misdirected activists to malign him. So, I’ll charge the governor to release the Justice Doris Okuwobi panel report on the ENDSARS riots in Lagos. Since the panel was established in the interest of the masses, and the panellists were paid with taxpayers’ money, I advise the husband of Ibijoke to release the report and shame the devil. I’ll defend Sanwo-Olu and stand by him.
Before the governor heeds my advice, let me give a sneak preview of the report.
A leaked report published by Al Jazeera on November 16, 2021, titled, “Panel of inquiry finds Nigerian Army culpable in Lekki ‘massacre’,” said the Nigerian Army was culpable of shooting and killing unarmed citizens protesting police brutality at Lekki.
The report was the findings by the Justice Doris Okuwobi panel established by the state government to look into the ENDSARS crisis and proffer recommendations.
Quoting the report, Al Jazeera said, “At the Lekki Toll Gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed, hapless and defenceless protesters, without provocation of justification, while they were waiving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem and the manner of assault and killing, could in context be described as a massacre.”
There was light at the toll gate before the soldiers moved in. There were surveillance cameras, too. When the soldiers from 81 Division left their barracks on Victoria Island and neared Waterloo, the lights and cameras went off. In the total darkness, light sparked from gun muzzles, faces contorted in horror, and guns sparkled. The government didn’t deny lights and cameras were switched off.
Who switched off the lights? And the cameras? Why switch off the lights and the cameras? America recorded the killing of Osama bin Laden and showed it to the world. I’ve seen videos of the Biafra War, Sudan War, Falkland Island War etc. Why switch off the lights and cameras just to quell a civilian riot? Then, where’s the video of the cleaning up of the Lekki tollgate after the beat stopped for many of the innocent and peaceful rioters? What’s the content of the camera recovered by a former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, at the toll gate?
* To be continued.
Written by Tunde Odesola and first published in The PUNCH, on Friday, July 28, 2023
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola