NIGERIA’S federal government has been urged to make October 20 a public holiday every year in memory of the youths shot at the Lekki Toll Gate Plaza last year when the government brutally ended the #EndSARS protest.
Last year, millions of Nigerians took to the streets for weeks, asking the government to dismantle the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force, which had become notorious for extortion and extra0judician killings. Embarrassed by the popularity of the protests, the Nigerian government eventually cracked down, ending it forcefully.
Soldiers and policemen were despatched the Lekki Toll Gate that had become the epicentre of the protests where they opened fire, killing dozens. For the last year, the Nigerian government has denied that any shooting took place but an official report into the incident published today revealed the truth.
Last year the Lagos State government established a judicial panel of inquiry on restitution for the victims of Sars related abuse and other matters, which submitted its report to Governor Babajide Sanwoolu today. It made seven main recommendations, which seriously indicted Nigerian military and security forces.
For starters, the report asked that the Nigeria Police Force should be adequately funded and its men effectively trained to enable them carry out their constitutional duties. It then recommended that the divisional police officer of Maroko Police Station, Raji Ganiyu and policemen deployed from the station on 20th and 21st October 2020 should be prosecuted for the arbitrary and indiscriminate shooting and killing of protesters.
Furthermore, the panel recommends disciplinary actions against Lt Col S O Bello and Major General Godwin Umelo for refusing to honour its summons. It also said soldiers deployed to Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020, should face disciplinary action, be stripped of their status and be dismissed from service.
In addition, the panel recommends that all those arrested during the protest should be granted bail, prosecuted and where there is no evidence, be released. Very poignantly, the panel recommended that the Lekki Toll Plaza be made a memorial site for the EndSARS protest by renaming it Endsars Tollgate.
Furthermore, the panel also recommended that October 20 every year should be named a Toll Free Day as long as the tollgate exists. it then called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to publicly apologise to Nigerian youths for undermining the #EndSARS protest with their state actors.
Already, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria has called for the dismissal, arrest, and trial of Nigeria’s information minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed for his egregious falsehood which has now been contradicted by a judicial panel. Last year, Alhaji Mohammed had faulted the claim by Amnesty International that no fewer than 12 protesters were killed in Lagos State by security operatives during the EndSARS protest.