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#ENDSARS: Lagos panel should give Lekki shooting top priority before the world moves on – Bolaji Akinyemi


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BOLAJI Akinyemi, a professor of political science and former external affairs minister said the probe of the shooting at Lekki toll gate should be given top priority before considering petitions filed by people abused by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Akinyemi disclosed this on Wednesday during a current affairs programme on Arise TV, saying the focus of the Lagos state panel probing the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) should first be on the shooting at Lekki toll gate.

“I wish the panel had really started with the shooting at the toll gate rather than the petitions, filed by people who have issues with SARS. This does not deny the fact that people have issues with SARS,  because this is what touches them.

“Given the national and international attention that is focused on Nigeria if I was the Chairman, of the panel, that issue would be first, but the panel itself knows best,” he said.

The former minister described Nigeria’s #ENDSARS protests as both lucky and unlucky within the international community, saying the outcome of the Lagos panel would decide Nigeria’s fate.

“Within the international context, Nigeria is both lucky and unlucky. Nigeria is lucky in the sense that our own crisis side has come in that season of protests, Black lives matter in the US, Thailand protests, Chile protests amongst others.

“The #ENDSARS protests do not paint Nigeria as being a bad boy within the international community but rather unlucky because, after 13 days of protests several protesters were being shot. Compared to Thailand where protest has been going on for more than a month or Chile there has been no shooting,” he said.

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Last week, men in army uniform stormed the Lekki toll gate where #EndSARS protesters had gathered for 13 days and dispersed them using live bullets.

The incident had triggered an outrage locally and condemnation from the international community though, the army had denied being responsible while the federal government said it would investigate the tragic incident.

“I think the international community itself is probably still waiting for that Lagos panel’s decision. And I hope they are not going to take all the time about it because the US elections are seven days away.

“And the world is going to move on, if we want to keep the attention of the world on this issue, then the panel has to speed up its procedure and processes,” he said.

On the speech by President Buhari on the shooting of the #ENDSARS protesters, Akinyemi said the speech was uncivil and lacked finesse, describing the choice of words in the speech was inappropriate.

“I don’t think the speech was helpful because when a Head of State decides to demonise the international community by basically asking them to either mind their business or that they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s insulting.

“Invariably, because of technology, the international community actually knows what they are talking about but if you are going to disagree with them you have to do so in a civil way,” he said.

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Speaking on Nigeria’s global human rights rating, he stated that the country is still an important regional player despite its human rights flaws.

“Nigeria for all its worth is still perceived as a regional player with sufficient capability to impose its views in West Africa.

Buttressing his point, he stated that former Nigeria’s dictator, Sani Abacha intervention in Sierra Leone was an international relations contradiction.

“We still teach our students the Abacha contradiction who was a brutal dictator, but was trying to reintroduce democracy in Sierra Leone while the world watched because his objective in Sierra Leone was what the world wanted,” he said.

Akinyemi stressed that restructuring the nation’s polity, was not a power shift from North to South saying the #ENDSARS protests was an eye-opener.

“We’ve just seen how every governor was scrambling over the past two weeks to control the outbreak of violence when hoodlums hijacked the protests. If you allow each state to have state police, you wouldn’t have had this situation where governance in almost every state was threatened by hoodlums.

“People tend to think that restructuring is taking power from the North and giving it to the South but that is not the case. I may be wrong but if these issues are not addressed within two weeks don’t be surprised if the youths come back to streets,” he said.

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Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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