By Nnamdi Ojiego
While Nigerians and indeed the world continue to await the decision of the Lagos State judicial panel of enquiry on police brutality over the EndSARS and Lekki tollgate crisis last year October, some Nigerians who used their platforms and influence to give life to the protest have continued to speak out on their support for the movement.
One of those Nigerians is a popular energy journalist, radio talk-show host and public affairs analyst, Mr. Adeyemi Adeoye.
During a recent chat with Sunday Vanguard, he stated that the injustice and lopsided nature of the Nigerian system have made it necessary for every man of goodwill to either join in speaking up against the system or support those who will.
“The best thing to have happened to this country since the return to civil rule in 1999, is the #EndSARS protest that occurred late last year in Lagos and across the country. If only it can be sustained, will soon be a thing of the past”.
According to him, the youths have been pushed to the proverbial wall and now left with no choice but to fight back. He noted that it took SARS brutality amidst all others to bring about a globally recognized call for social justice in Nigeria.
“It was Edmund Burke who stated that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Hence, the worst move that all men of goodwill can make in the face of all that is happening in Nigeria is to keep mum.
I have been very concerned about the state of affairs in this country, especially as it affects the children. Nobody speaks for them. No government since 1999 has laid out any formidable policy for the children, and no one is discussing this. Now, those children we have refused to train in 1999 are the ones currently threatening our collective existence. So the youths are very well in order to challenge the social system for the benefit of all, including the police.
“In America, the cradle of constitutional democracy, civil rights activists challenged the social system across board, and that was what brought about the current system, which in turn gave way for universal adult suffrage being enjoyed by all today. They never kept mum! They challenged the system, and the result is visible for all to see today. That is exactly why some of us decided to throw our support behind the youths, especially because we are certain that these youths have been at the receiving end in numerous encounters with the police.
“My major conviction of the #EndSARS protest was when I read the rapper Ikechukwu’s personal ordeal at the hands of SARS officers right on his verified twitter handle. He told a tale of how after recognizing him as a celebrity; the officers dragged him to an ATM machine at the dead of the night, where they made him withdraw tens of thousands of naira for them.
“That is armed robbery and that was my breaking point. I could take no more, but of course I’m just an energy journalist with the privilege of having multiple platforms to ply my trade including a prime time radio show airing across five radio stations nationwide, hence I decided to use some of those platforms, and the little access I have to help give oxygen to the struggle and even when it was going on and I was far away in the united States, I teamed up with other Nigerian progressives in Houston Texas to lend our voice to the struggle via a peaceful protest across downtown Houston, to further encourage, strengthen and give support to the struggle back home”.
Asked what he thinks about the judicial panel of enquiry and the claims that several people lost their lives, he stated that in the chaos and stampede that broke out upon the arrival of the men of the Nigerian Army at the venue of an otherwise peaceful protest, it is impossible for zero deaths to have been recorded. “Something just did not add up in that instance, especially as it was establish after due investigations that live bullets were actually fired at peaceful protesters. The question here is, what necessitated the invitation of the military to that very peaceful and harmless protest?
There is need for justice not just to be served, but to be seen by all to have been served, otherwise we will discover that we have just opened another can of worms aside the ones we are already saddled with, including Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and bandits. This is so because there cannot be peace without justice. That is a well-known phenomenon, so I can only join other progressives in waiting patiently for the outcome of the judicial commission with high optimisms that they will understand the dangers of not seizing the moment and doing the needful. That is doing the right thing, as it is clear to all.
The #EndSARS movement which started via a protest to put an end to police brutality has evolved into a movement for social justice and equality as can be seen in the last protest that happened in February 2021. But again, that protest simply reveals that neither the Government nor the police have learnt any lessons from the first protest. We either want to have a democracy or not, we cannot micromanage freedom of expression!
This is the only country we have, and we must do everything to promote every single tenets and values of democracy in the most peaceful but assertive and intrusive manner. That is the goal and it is our hope that the government gets it as we the people will not relent”. He enthused.