EndSars Memorial: What has become of us!
They say experience is the best teacher, and a student who refuses to learn will keep experiencing the same thing until he has learned. What happens when the student is not responsible for failure in learning? Who is to be held accountable?
Exactly 365 days ago, in demand for a sustainable, safer, and thriving Nigeria, youthful, vibrant Nigerians met an experience that would leave the deepest cut in their minds. The incidence of 20.10.2020, was unbelievable and to date, we still cannot fathom what happened that night, or can we? The Lekki Toll Gate Massacre in Lagos, Nigeria, reminds us that our government is brutal, unconcerned, and unaccounted for. In memory of The Lekki Toll Gate Shooting
Starting as far back as we can, we have
1) The Asaba Massacre
Shortly after the Nigerian-Biafra civil war broke out in 1967, The Federal troops entered Asaba around 5 October, and began ransacking houses and killing civilians, claiming they were Biafran sympathizers, to calm the tensions between the community and the military, the chieftains organized a ceremonial meeting between the military and thShortly after the Nigerian-Biafran civil war broke out in 1967, The Federal troops entered Asaba, ransacking houses and killing innocent citizens, accusing them of being Biafran sympathizers. To appease the military and stop further killings, the chieftains organized a ceremony inviting the military. The chieftains, alongside the people, dressed in their traditional white outfits, paraded the main street, singing, dancing, and chanting “One Nigeria”, a show of solidarity. But at a junction, men and teenage boys were separated from women and young children and gathered in an open square at Ogbe-Osowa village. Under Order, The Federal troops revealed machine guns and opened fire. Unarmed civilians, seeking peace and their lives, were murdered in cold blood in their homes by the same people meant to protect them over something as fickle as hearsay. To date, justice was not served, and no one was held accountable
The Asaba Massacre in a nutshell
Cause of Conflict: HearSay
Kill count: 700+ dead
Casualty Count: 1000+
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it …..
2) The UGEP Massacre
Ugep is a small peaceful town in Cross River State, southern Nigeria. On December 24th, 1967, a slight misunderstanding led to a massacre that claimed the lives of men, women, and young adults in Ugep.
The misunderstanding, been that an Army officer was missing. An alleged rumor claimed that the officer was killed by the Ugep people. Officers of the Nigerian Army went on a rampage, massacred dwellers of the Ugep community, and burnt down the city. The corpse of the said officer was later found in a ditch, where he had fallen, drunken
An autopsy carried out at that time, by the Military, showed that the soldier had an epileptic seizure and choked on his sputum, which led to his death. This particular report is in the “Bibliography of the Nigerian Government Commission of Inquiry: Reports and Accompanying White Papers from 1920 to 1980″, and despite the institution of a panel of inquiry, Justice was never served, and again, a massacre was left unnoticed.
The UGEP Massacre in a nutshell
Cause of Conflict: Erroneous Assumption
Death Count:13 confirmed dead
Casualty Count: 100+ combat-related injuries
Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for allNelson Mandela
3) The ODI Massacre
The ODI massacre was carried out on November 20th, 1999, by the Nigerian Military in the Ijaw town of Odi in Bayelsa State. This massacre was in response to the killing of 12 policemen and an ambush of soldiers by a militia that used the civilian population of Odi as its human shield cover.
Like the Search and Destroy mode in ”Call of Duty” a renowned Video Game, the Military went full commando, killing, burning, and leveling everything in Odi. A bank, an Anglican church, and a health center were the only buildings left standing.
Victims of this massacre were, of course, unarmed civilian residents of the community. After the assault, Odi was in ruins, houses tumbled in flames, and bodies were left decomposing in empty streets. To date, no direct person was held accountable, and the court verdict that compensations be paid to the citizens of Odi by the federal government was never made in full. Again, Justice was not served.
The ODI Massacre in a nutshell
Cause of Conflict: Bruised ego/ collateral damage
Death Count: 1000+
Casualty Count: 2000+ combat-related injuries
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.Desmond Tutu
4) The Umuechem Massacre
You see, just like the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre, peaceful protests in demand for basic Human Right by Nigerians has never really ended well for the protesters.
On the 30th and 31st of October 1990, the Youths of Umuechem Community of Rivers State, staged a peaceful protest
their demand: provision of electricity, water, roads, and other compensation for oil pollution of crops and water supplies.
On the second day of the protest, the Police Force attacked protesters with Teargas and Gunfires. The next morning after the protest, the Mobile Police Force, started an indiscriminate shooting spree within the community in an alleged attempt to locate three missing members of their squad.
A judiciary commission of inquiry set up by the government established that the village posed no threat and that the Mobile Police showcased a disregard for lives and properties. Despite this verdict, these perpetrators have not been brought to justice and no compensation awarded to victims.
The Umuechem Massacre in a nutshell
Cause of Conflict: Erroneous Assumption
Death Count: ~85
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.Nelson Mandela
Back to the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre
This event, that we hope, to forget (but can we?). That is: in our moment of united solidarity, flags in one hand (our hope for a chance, that our lives might be spared), voices raised seeking justice for our brothers and sisters, family and friends; we, ourselves lost our blood to our own soil by guns, bought with our tax money for our own soldiers, who pledged to protect us. At that moment, we were struck by the reality of how powerless we have become.
The frequent occurrences of these horrible experiences tell a deeper story than we can blame on a government administration. Who then is deserving of this blame: the system, the people, or who exactly? As Nigerians, we are known as one of the most resilient human species on earth, but how powerful are we, against the systems we disagree with?
Imagine Halloween being every day of the year, children would have to master their fear, look it in the face and rebuke it, but would that be all?
This is what these experiences have made of us: people who have set aside our biases: religion, ethics, or gender, and have walked side by side as we face goose bumping experiences, together. With brutal encounters, we have become more resistant, and our minds have kept on fighting. As more gruesome forces are applied to break our will, we develop more tolerance for one another. 365 days after, look at how united we have become, raising a social trend again #endsars amidst the Twitter ban, showing up at the site where our raised flags were shot at to disperse and ridicule us, raising our flags again to shout #Justice for people we never met.
We have learned from our experiences, and now we know that creating systems of oppression and massacre is the trump card, used against us. So in taking this memorial walk, we are reminding ourselves these two things:
1. A bloody price was paid to get here,
2. As long as we stand together, these experiences will not break us.
We have become a broken people bound by a voice crying for justice, and despite gunshots, tear gases, and mindless policies, our spirit will never be broken.
There are no extraordinary men… just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.William Halsey
We will keep fighting, even with our votes, get your PVC here
QueenEsther Michael Hogan is the founder and lead curator in Foodfultv. An infomercial that fills the gap in the sphere of environment, food, health, lifestyle, and agriculture through timely audiovisuals information on air. In her journey as an agro-journalist and a food Broadcaster in Foodfultv, she has worked on a few environmental and agricultural projects to restore the ecosystem.