ctober 20, 2020, also known as “Black Tuesday”, will be indelibly etched in Nigeria’s history books. Although the #Endsars campaign has passed, we cannot deny that it is an event that will forever remain memorial at the heart of most Nigerians.
The foremost Convener, Segun Awosanya, launched the #EndSARS campaign with the release of a petition. The petition to abolish the police unit was signed by 10,195 Nigerians and submitted to the National Assembly.
Nigerians turned the online campaign into a rally in October 2020, protesting police abuse in the country.
While we must applaud the sincere efforts of honest Nigerian youths who sought to make a difference for the betterment of all, we must also acknowledge that citizens have the constitutional right to hold a peaceful rally or gathering. However, history has taught us that many of these movements always devolve into a rowdy affair and become disruptive, leading to narratives that do no good.
According to sources, Nigerian youths are organizing a memorial demonstration on the 20th of October in honour of those who died in the Lekki Toll Gate shooting in 2020. As a result of this development, it is necessary that we reflect critically on the incident, evaluate its consequences, and consider the aftermath of the movement that devolved into a riot.
Despite the presence of security personnel, and the imposition of a curfew in the State, the hoodlums carried out their crimes unchecked, resulting in the loss of lives and wanton destruction of property. Many structures were set ablaze, and properties was plundered and destroyed.
According to Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the Lagos Police Spokesperson, roughly 17 Police Stations in the State were set ablaze by hoodlums.
Idimu, Igando, Layeni, Denton, Ilenbe Hausa, Ajah, Amukoko, Ilasa, Cele Outpost under Ijesha, defunct SARS office under Ajegunle, Ebute-Ero, Mushin (Olosan), Ojo, Ajegunle, Ikotun, and Ojodu are among those stations.
Property located on Police Stations, including vehicles, was also destroyed, and valuables, including firearms, were hauled away by criminal elements.
Hoodlums demolished Nigeria’s oldest court, the Federal High Court in Igbosere, Lagos. Many case files were destroyed in the fire, while others were transported. The hoodlums also took valuables such as desktop computers, air conditioners, refrigerators, chairs, and other items.
During the unrest, the palace of the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, was also vandalized, as was the Governor’s family home, as well as the headquarters of TVC (Television Continental), which was also burnt to the ground.
The thugs also targeted the Lagos State bus terminals in Oyingbo, Yaba, and Berger. The perpetrators set fire to several buses at the Oyingbo terminus, as well as parts of the Yaba and Berger bus terminals.
Mutiu Yekeen, the Head of Corporate Communications at PTS (Primero Transport Services Ltd), the owners of BRT Buses, said the company lost over N100 million in six days as a result of the protest, which wreaked havoc on the nation’s economic capital, while the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI, 2020) revealed that Nigeria has lost over N700 billion in economic value since the EndSARS protests began.
The economic losses sustained by Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole were unquantifiable, and we cannot afford to repeat the same mistake. The country is at a vital rebuilding phase, and we must all work together to defend and preserve our assets.
The Lagos State Executive Governor should be applauded for taking decisive steps to stop the crisis, restore normalcy, and rebuild the state’s economy.
This is a clear characteristic of a Governor who will never let a setback deter him from carrying out his mandate. Also, we must credit the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government for ensuring that one of the movement’s primary goals, the abolishment of the Anti-Crime Police Unit, SARS, was achieved, making this a mission accomplished for the youths and all Nigerians at large.
Even while some young people plan to hold a memorial service in honour of those who died in the conflict, history has proven that even the most sincere and pure intentions may be hijacked by unscrupulous groups.
The #EndSARS protest began as a legitimate and progressive cause, but it was tainted by hoodlums. In addition, the teenagers must exercise prudence so that no further deaths are documented. Lives are precious, and they must make every effort to ensure that their activities are guided by every sense of probity.
We must also keep in mind that investigations are still ongoing to discover and unravel exactly what happened during the incident, so we must wait patiently for the law to play out. Youths must also remember that they are the nation’s future, and so have a significant role to play in shaping the nation’s destiny.
They must ensure that they are in the forefront of adhering to the provisions of the law and order in society; anarchy is never and will never be a solution; there are always better methods to deal with challenges.
Nigeria is ours, and in our efforts to change the narrative, we must be cautious not to fall into the traps set by unscrupulous agents.