BY George Onmonya Daniel
Those who don’t support the EndSARS protest, mostly because of primordial sentiments, are wrapping some form of conspiracy theory around it all to change the narrative that it is a Western conspiracy to end Nigeria. That’s exactly what Iliyasu Gadu article published in Daily Trust of 25th October, 2020, attempts to do. This is not the first time events in Nigeria that has nothing to do with conspiracy are linked with conspiracy. Conspiracy theorists and their believers are on the increase. Just fabricate any sensible junk and splash on social media or get it published in newspapers and magazines and you certainly would loads of gullible follow
We all witnessed the #EndSARS protest. It was simply a protest about police brutality. This protest has been on social media for years, the Inspector General of Police, a couple of times issued statements stopping Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the police from harassing the public and focus on armed robbers, but there is so much SARS officials would lose in monetary terms if they focus only on armed robbers. Arresting members of the public under the pretext that they are Yahoo Boys (internet fraudsters) seem more lucrative. In the process many people were killed. SARS impunity and notoriety has grown to a height that they terrorise the public. Most of their victims are young people. And nothing, absolutely nothing, is being done about them as usual with Nigeria despite all the public outcry.
The protest would later leave the social media and hit the street as “#EndSARS protest,” starting from Lagos and hitting Abuja. The government didn’t take it serious from the beginning, but before they realize it, the protest has become bigger and bigger, with University students and students from other tertiary institutions who have been at home because of the ASUU strike and Covid 19 quickly turning it into something unimaginable, something this nation has never seen before.
It was simply like the case of what happened in the United States during the Covid 19 lockdown globally when George Floyd was killed by a policeman who knelt on his neck for nine minutes. The whole world was home and watched the video of that incident. As it went viral on social media, the United States was engulfed in protests which spread across the world. You and I all saw the Black Lives Matter protest. It is not too different from the #EndSARS protest.
When the police quickly disbanded SARS the protesters didn’t trust them. They have done it severally before without results. The IG of Police quickly ended SARS and started SWAT. That was the wrongest move in the whole quagmire. Anger on the streets suddenly change to #END BAD GOVERNANCE and all sorts of hashtags which came up from disappointment and frustration with the Nigerian state. This anger has always been there. Ask any Nigerian man about Nigeria and you will hear and feel this frustration and anger with the government.
As the protest grew bigger, the government panicked and looked for ways to quell it. In its desperation the government hired thugs to attack the protesters as everyone saw with video evidences of thugs being ferried by men who appeared to be DSS operatives around Abuja to attack protesters. Lagos was no different. Knowing the protest was becoming very popular, the government quickly went for the tribal and religious card. They have to mobilize the Muslim core North against the protest. The Muslim core North became the anti-SARS protesters.
But even that would not stop the protest in Lagos. Lekki protesters refused to bulge. You all know what happened on 20 -10- 2020 at Lekki. Men of the army, obviously sent by the government, fired into peaceful protesters singing the national anthem. That image was so touching and would outrage most Nigerians. It triggered a complete chaos in Lagos, with angry Nigerians unleashed on the streets burning government properties and looting, attacking businesses they see as belonging to former Governor of Lagos and APC Chieftian, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The outrage over Lekki shooting of protesters would later hit most states in Nigeria. This is not a Western conspiracy, this has nothing to do with conspiracy. The government needed to do whatever to save itself and shooting at armless protesters Lekki was one of the tactics to quell the crisis after thugs, tribal and religious sentiments failed. Shoot at them. Because they know Lagos is the epicentre of the protest and as long as Lagos keeps it burning, it will spiral out of control.