EndSars Protester continue at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.Photo Akeem Salau

By Donu Kogbara

SOMEONE shared the following poem on a WhatsApp group I belong to. The only name attached to it was “EndSars Protester”.

 

It’s a tribute to the youngsters who were killed on Tuesday night and perfectly captures the poignancy of an avoidable tragedy:

 

Tell my mother I was unarmed

 

Tell my father I had the flag in my hands when I was shot

 

Tell the unborn Generation that I died singing the national anthem

 

Tell the cowards who shot me that my spirit lives on in the life of every good Nigerian youth

 

Tell the government that they shot my body but not my spirit

 

Tell the world I died for freedom like many good people before me

 

I regret nothing, for I have done what my fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts couldn’t do out of fear. Let God judge me, I am only sorry for the pain of leaving you this early.

My prints will forever remain in the sands of history for I have done my time based on the path I chose freely & willingly.

 

Now that my torment in Nigeria is over, please lay me to rest on mother earth where you all will join me in due time

 

Take my voice and hand it over to the next good youth whom I hope by Gods Almighty grace will benefit a better Nation

 

For I know that freedom is coming, yes freedom will come tomorrow. Goodbye…

 

The Fallen

Their smiling faces beam out from photographs, eyes full of hope and energy. The pretty unnamed girl is wearing the kind of clothes I wore at her age: Denim shorts and a bright yellow sweatshirt. The boy, Anthony Okechukwu, looks like a junior company executive.

These are just two of the innocent youngsters who have lost their lives because they dared to participate in peaceful protest marches in Lagos. May their parents find the strength to cope with this terrible bereavement. May they rest in peace. May God punish their killers.

 

No excuse for failure

I personally have never had a serious axe to grind with any Nigerian policeman or woman. Even when they’ve stopped me at checkpoints and requested money, they’ve been unthreatening and jocular.

“Mommy,” they say grinning and saluting, “anything for weekend?!”

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And I’ll never forget the kindness I received from both senior and junior officers when I was released by kidnappers in 2015.

But not everyone has been as lucky as I have been. So many Nigerians have suffered at the hands of the police –  notorious SARS operatives especially; and the evidence against rogue officers is so shocking and overwhelming that the President agreed to disband SARS within days of the commencement of anti-SARS protests.

The force in general has an appalling reputation. According to the    International Political Science Association’s World Internal Security and Police Index, Nigeria has the worst police force in the world.

 

Why?

If corruption in the corridors of power is curbed and greedy government mandarins are prevented from paying themselves fortunes, there will be more than enough cash in the system to provide police officers with adequate training and decent salaries that will incentivise them to do their jobs properly.

The authorities should not be allowed to keep getting away with lame excuses whenever they are queried about low police morale, lousy police performance and widespread police misbehaviour.

I certainly don’t blame recruits who earn a paltry N10,000 a month for demanding bribes. I certainly wouldn’t risk MY life for an uncaring general public that largely ignores my predicament while permitting legislators to earn well over $2 million a year. And don’t get me started on the Nigerian army…which contains some fine individuals but is a shambolic disgrace overall.

Buhari should stop messing around and solve these problems pronto. There is absolutely no reason why the Giant of Africa should have such embarrassingly lousy law enforcement agencies. There is no excuse AT ALL for this type of failure. Particularly at a time when Nigeria happens to be headed by a former soldier, for God’s sake!

 

Very pertinent questions

A Rivers lady I know asked me the following questions when we were discussing the EndSARS protests (her children are involved). We talked about the intervention of sponsored hoodlums, the law enforcement crackdown, the murders, the attacks on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s TV station and Governor Sanwo-Olu’s mum’s home and the destruction of banks, shops, etc, in Lagos and other Southern cities.

And what she (and I) want to know is this:

Are any of our Northern friends in this struggle for justice with us? Have we heard their voices? Did our Northern friends’ children come out to protest with our children? Have our enlightened friends from the North spoken out against the killings? Is the North being destroyed, as in, public and private properties being set on fire? Or is it just down South that we have corrupt government officials?

 

The North/South thing

The usual divide-and-rule merchants are pitching Northerners against Southerners and Christians against Muslims…

…when the real issue (if you ask me) is that ordinary Christians and Muslims from all over Nigeria have been comprehensively shafted by privileged Christians and Muslims from all over Nigeria.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.