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Young Nigerians on the 20th of October, 2020 reportedly lost their lives in their quest for a better Nigeria as they converged on the Lekki Tollgate to call for an end to bad policing and bad governance in the country.
The protest which had started in Delta State spread to states like Lagos, Enugu, Rivers, Kano, Kwara, with youths marching together to call for the reformation of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF.
Little did the large number of the bright futures of this country know that the peaceful EndSARS protest, which had been on for for weeks without killings, would turn bloody.
Youths on the faithful day of October 20, 2020, had called for an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which was created by the Nigeria Police Force in 1992 to tackle armed robbery in Lagos State.
Following the security challenges across the country, former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2002 ordered the establishment of the squad across the country to battle crime.
Public outcry, however, started after SARS started deviating from its original assignment and were accused of engaging in extra-judicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, alleged rape, extortion and unlawful detention.
Youth in the country which had employed the social media space since 2017 to campaign against the oppression of SARS, felt it was time to take another approach which birthed the slang, ‘Soro Soke’, which means ‘speak up’.
The concerned youths with supports from prominent Nigerians within and outside the country had remained steadfast in their call for change despite the spread of the COVID-19 virus at the time.
Young Nigerians on the 20th gathered at the Lekki Tollgate to continue their daily protest before the sudden declaration of a curfew by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
The event, however, took an unexpected turn as soldiers at the tollgate reportedly Used live ammunition and allegedly killed some of the demonstrators while some got injured.
Both the military and police denied the shootings prompting the government to set up judicial panels to investigate police abuse allegations across the country.
Lekki Tollgate Shootings and the controversies that followed thereafter;
The Lekki Tollgate shootings undoubtedly had sparked global outrage, bringing about wide condemnation from the international communities and media giants.
The shootings which stirred controversies, raised questions such as:
- Who ordered the shooting?
- Why was the surveillance camera at the Lekki Tollgate turned off?
- How many people died from the shootings?
- Did the Nigerian army open fire at peaceful protesters or shoot the air as claimed?
The police have not learnt many lessons from what happened during the protest as they have continued to brutalise and dehumanise citizens, even threatening to stop the peaceful march scheduled to mark the first anniversary of the #EndSARS.