A non-profit organisation, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), has said the “increasing intolerance” of the Nigerian government towards the call by youth for an end to police brutality is elevating the #EndSARS protest into an “undying movement.”
Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director of CAPPA, said this during the launch of a report: ‘Lies and the Hail of Bullets – The Story of Lekki Shooting,’ in Lagos on Thursday.
Mr Oluwafemi said rather than heed the demands of the youth and bring perpetrators of the Lekki shooting incident to book, the government has continued to make attempts towards gagging the youth and stifling the civic space.
“Believing that you can suppress and cow this generation to submission will never work. The government cannot rule a digital generation using analog manual, no matter how they try, they will fail.
“We need a government that listens, the social media is becoming a feedback mechanism and they should recognise that and use it for good governance.
“With the intolerance of the government towards anything #EndSARS, this government is elevating #EndSARS into a movement. Beyond the youths that started #EndSARS, what the government needs to do is to expand public space, public discourse and let Nigerians give their feedback and respond appropriately like a reasonable government,” Mr Oluwafemi said.
The CAPPA boss said the events of Wednesday, “where youth that went on a procession in memory of the #EndSARS protest and those that lost their lives is another pointer that the present generation cannot bow to oppression”.
Mr Oluwafemi said rather than respect the position of the youth towards the #EndSARS memorial, the Nigerian government became more intolerant with several youths arrested at the Lekki tollgate during the procession.
“Why is the government so intolerant of even a memorial for the #EndSARS victims? Events of Wednesday are gory affirmation that the government has not learnt any lessons. Nigerian youths have spoken, there must be an end to police brutality in Nigeria. Nigerians are all demanding just and accountable government.”
Mr Oluwafemi added that individuals at the seat of power in Nigeria do not take the time to read the operating manual of the country which is the constitution.
“Some of them don’t understand that citizens have basic rights, rights to freedom, free speech, rights to assemble and others.
“We totally reject the attempt by this government to take away those rights from us. Nigerians have the right to protest, Nigerians have the right to dissent, there is no democracy without dissent,” he said.
‘The story of Lekki shooting’
In the report, CAPPA presented the timeline of the #EndSARS protest of last year and travails of Nigerian youth.
The report also contains interviews with some victims of police brutality and testimonies of 16 victims that were present at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 2020.
The survivors interviewed in the report suffered different degrees of injuries, some with their legs amputated at a result of severe gunshot injury.
In the interviews, Ajumobi Olajide, a baker, reportedly said when he started hearing gun shots while they were at the tollgate, he decided to run for his life, but was hit on his leg in the process.
“I started shouting, I have been shot, please help, but no one came to my rescue. When I opened my eyes, I found out I was at LASUTH, that was around 6 a.m. the following day,” he said.
The mother to one of the survivors, Olufunmi Ayedungbe, said her son was shot in the forehead and was placed on oxygen for five days at LASUTH, where a surgery was also done on him.
She said her son lost his ability to speak as a result and suffered other changes in behavioral patterns.
“When the surgery was about to be carried out, they asked me to sign a document and that it will take six months before he would be able to regain his memory,” she said.
During the launch of the report, Mr Oluwafemi said the perpetrators of the Lekki tollgate shooting should be brought to book by the Nigerian government.
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