(Published in The PUNCH, on Monday, November 29, 2021)
In light or in darkness, a cockroach is a cockroach; smelly and repulsive. What to do to rid the cockroach of its nuisance? Whack it to death!
The lethargic regime of the retired General Muhammadu Buhari heeded this homily on October 20, 2020, when it crushed to death, like cockroaches, innocent Nigerian youths at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos Island.
Since the bloodbath at Lekki over a year ago, the unproductive Buhari regime has been wheeling falsehoods in and out of cosmetic surgery wards, trying all manner of facelifts to beautify deceit. But truth remained missing in the prescribed post-surgery dosage, making Aso Rock’s open wound conscience discharge smelly pus.
But before I attack the cockroaches that crawled out of the latest response from the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on the Lekki Toll Gate massacre, last week, I’ll ask a question: where’s the camcorder discovered by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, at the scene of the murder of innocent Nigerian youths?
My gut feeling is to treat the Fashola camcorder discovery with the doubt that Nigerians attach to government and its officials, and liken the discovery to the purported discovery of River Niger by Scottish explorer, Mungo Park, in 1795, centuries after indigenes had been living on the banks of the river.
The out-of-the-blue camcorder discovery and the ginger way the left-handed minister wrapped the camcorder with a piece of dark cloth, like a detective from Alagbon, suggests there was an untold event at the toll gate before the minister got there that fateful day – just like there were indigenes living around River Niger long before Mungo got there.
Conversely, the authenticity of Fashola’s action and the possibility of extracting evidence from the camcorder were lost in the black hole of government’s characteristic insensitivity to issues that concern the masses.
It’s only an unfeeling and inconsiderate government that would keep quiet on the content of a camera openly discovered by an ex-Chief of Staff, two-term governor, SAN, minister, and member of the federal cabinet.
In a country, where leaders lead with conscience, and consider the citizenry worthier than cows, there won’t be a criminal silence on the content of the camcorder. Mind you, two weeks ago, Fashola had said he openly handed over the camcorder to Lagos State government officials at the toll gate, insisting that he doesn’t know what has become of the camera.
According to online reports, Fashola also claimed the camcorder was planted by subversive elements. This assertion is the reason why the content of the camcorder should be made public if the Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led government of Lagos State wishes to wash its hands clean. Questions beggar answers. Why did the Lagos State government not submit the camcorder to the panel, and why did the panel not mention the camcorder in its report nor call on Fashola to come and testify?
It should be noted that the composition of the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led eight-member Lagos State Panel of Inquiry constituted to look at the causes of the Lekki toll gate crises was a child of necessity. If not for the fire consuming Lagos at the time, Sanwo-Olu wouldn’t people the panel with independent-minded and courageous citizens, who never gave two hoots about how Abuja or Alausa feels about the truth they told in the report. I daresay the composition of the panel was to douse the escalating tension eating up Lagos at the time.
Upon the leakage of the panel’s report, Nigeria’s media space went berserk, but the information minister figuratively went underwater like a mighty shark for some days, only for him to suddenly shoot into the air from the deep, twirling to the horror of many, insisting that nobody died at the toll gate.
Alhaji Lai’s latest lie issued forth from the same mouth which claimed in 2018 that it cost government N3.5m monthly to feed detained Shiite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, even as the same mouth claimed in 2016 that patient Buhari wasn’t sick in London, only for the Daura general to return to the country to say he had never been that sick in his entire life.
The same mouth had also infamously said Boko Haram had been technically defeated only for the terrorist organisation to claim territories in the North-East, and kill soldiers and civilians at will. I’ll restrain from turning on the minister’s tap of misrepresentations.
Reacting to the leaked report, Mohammed quoted a nameless lawyer and a faceless journalist, whom he claimed described the leaked report as disgraceful. If Alhaji Lai was proud of what he was saying, he should have come up with the identities of the unknown persons he copiously quoted in his press statement.
In the aftermath of the massacre, CNN came up with a damning analysis of the CCTV footage from the Lekki toll gate, showing soldiers shooting at the scene and expended live bullet casings, which were traced to the Nigerian military.
After the CNN report, the government went back on its earlier denial that soldiers never had live bullets at the scene, insisting, however, that the live bullets were not shot.
Both the panel and the CNN reports queried the reason behind the ‘panning out of CCTV cameras’ at the scene shortly before the soldiers opened fire on the harmless protesters.
If Mohammed was on the side of the truth and the masses, he should have raised questions as to why the brightly lit toll gate was thrown into darkness shortly before the killer soldiers opened fire on Nigerians whom he swore to serve and protect.
In his sophistry, Mohammed raised a jejune question on why the relatives of the deceased have refused to come out and claim the corpses of the dead.
In a country where the soldiers that killed three policemen and two civilians, who arrested kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala aka Wadume, in Taraba State, got a pat on the back, and are today walking free, Mohammed’s poser to the relatives of the dead is akin to telling them to face a moving train.
It’s on record that the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, withdrew the murder charge against the soldiers since June 2020.
With the wave of killings and tension across the country, Mohammed should know that Nigerians have been dehumanised and disenchanted to the extent that they don’t expect anything good from the Buhari regime.
Just a few days ago, a witness, Kamsi Ochuko, who testified at the panel against the Nigerian Army, was allegedly attacked by hoodlums suspected to be sponsored.
One of the victims who survived gunshot wounds, Agbeze Ifeanyi Matthew, a 35-year-old man from Ondo State, testified before the investigative panel and showed his bullet wounds.
He also told UK-based daily, The Guardian, that it was shameful the Federal Government had been denying the shooting of protesters at the toll gate.
He said, “The tollgate lights had never gone off before, but when they turned them all off and we saw people (in uniform) removing the cameras, we became scared.
“The bullet had gone through my back. In the ambulance they were saying I had lost so much blood. The nurse was praying, trying to encourage me to be courageous, saying that I should not lose hope. This was around 1am.
“I was the first person from the tollgate admitted to the ward. Later that morning, there was no more space (in the ward).”
To be continued next week.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
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