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I Didnt Invite Solders to Protect TVC and The Nation, Why will I now invite Solders to Shoot at peaceful protesters- Tinubu

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Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC national leader and jagaban of Lagos has broken his silence in a press release titled  THE #ENDSARS PROTSTS; A FUNDAMENTAL LESSON IN DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE

In it he said:
I heavily grieve for those who have lost their lives or been injured during the period of these protests. My deepest sympathies go to their families and loved ones for none should have been made to pay such a dear price. My career as an active politician spans nearly three decades.  In that time, I have seen many things as Nigeria has struggled, sometimes against itself, to undertake the often painful yet inexorable push toward democratic government accountable to, and protective of, the people.

Though this journey, I have traversed the landscape of human experience. Having been as a political prisoner during our struggle for democracy but also having the singular honour of serving this state and its people as governor, I have known highs and lows, seen both the good and the bad of things.

But the events of the past few days have been extraordinary in a most dire sense. Only time will tell if we have the collective wisdom and requisite compassion to learn the proper lessons from these events that we may yet steer toward a better, more just Nigeria. Despite the tumult we now see, I believe with all my heart that we will meet the current challenge.

Here, let me directly address the sharp point aimed against me. I have been falsely accused of ordering the reported deployment of soldiers against peaceful protesters that took place at Lekki on 20 October 2020. This allegation is a complete and terrible lie. I did not order this or any assault against anybody. I would never want such a vile thing to happen nor did I have any prior knowledge about this sad event. It is my firm belief that no one should be harassed, injured or possibly killed for doing what they have the constitutional right to do in making their contribution to a better, more equitable society.

As a political figure, I am accustomed to people attributing to me all manner of indiscretions of which I have no knowledge and in which I played no role. I have usually ignored such falsities as the cost of being in the public eye.

This time, it is different. The allegation now levied against me is that I called on soldiers to kill my own people. This allegation is the foulest of lies.

The use of strong force against any peaceful protesters is indefensible, completely outside the norms of a democratic society and progressive political culture to which I aspire and have devoted my public life. That people were angered by the reports of violence and death is acutely understandable.

Understandably outraged, people sought to hold someone accountable. For various reasons, I became the most available scapegoat. Some people don’t like me because they believe the false rumours uttered about me over the years. Some  maligned my name because they hide ulterior motives and harbour unrequited political scores they intend to settle.

A week ago, such people tried to bring enmity between me and the state and federal governments by contending I was sponsoring the protests. When that did not work, they then sought to sow enmity between me and the people by saying I ordered soldiers to quash the very same protests they first accused me of organising.

My opponents have every right to oppose me politically but let them have the courage to do so in the open, above board and to employ facts not evil fiction in their efforts against me. They have no right to slander and defame anyone with the terrible and vile fabrications now cast at my feet.

Those who have decided to hate me will hate me regardless of the truth. Again, they have the right to think as they may and I am not troubled by their unfounded animus. Today, I speak not to them. I leave them to the workings of their own conscience.

Today, I speak to those who believe in the importance of, and want to know, the truth.

The slander aimed at me is based on the untruth that I own the toll gate concession. The hate mongers prevaricate that I ordered the Lekki assault because the protests had caused me to lose money due to the interruption of toll gate activity.

Minus this alleged ownership, the slander employed against me falls to the ground as a heavy untruth. I ask people to thoroughly investigate the matter of my alleged ownership of the toll gate. By seeking facts, instead of being swayed by gossip, you will find I have no ownership interest or involvement in the toll gate. Having no business interests in the operation, my income remains unchanged whether one or 100,000 vehicles pass through that gate.

At bottom, the toll gate is a public asset. Given what has happened, I would like to propose to government that the toll gate be left closed for an indefinite period. If it is reopened, revenues should be donated to the confirmed victims of the Lekki attack as well as to other identifiable victims of police brutality in Lagos. Let government use the money to compensate and take care of those who have lost life or limb in the struggle for all citizens to go about the quiet, peaceful enjoyment of life without fear of undue harassment at this or that checkpoint.

On the other hand, I am, indeed, a promoter and financial investor in the Nation newspaper and TVC. It was widely known and circulated through social media that certain malevolent elements were going to take advantage of the situation to attack the Nation newspaper facilities and TVC in Lagos.

The attackers came. Both facilities were significantly damaged. Although equipped with prior notice of the imminent trespass, I did not call any one to seek or request for the army or police to deploy let alone attack, kill, or injure those who razed and vandalized these properties. I did not want any bloodshed. These elements, mostly hirelings of my political opponents, wreaked their havoc and destroyed those buildings and facilities and I thank God that the employees of these two media institutions managed to escape largely unharmed.

There is a deeper truth involved here. Burned buildings and damaged equipment can be rebuilt or replaced. There is no adequate substitute for the loss of even a single human life. I am not one to encourage violence. I abhor it. Thus I did nothing that might endanger lives, even the lives of those who destroyed my properties.

Now, those who claim I ordered violence in Lekki must face the sheer illogic of their assertions. There is no rationale that can adequately explain why I would order soldiers to repel peaceful protesters from the toll gate where I have no financial interest, yet, choose to do nothing to protect my investments in the Nation and TVC.

Why would I be so moved as to instigate the army to attack peaceful, law-abiding people at the toll gate where I have no pecuniary stake, yet lift not a single finger to stop hired miscreants bent on setting fire to these important media investments?

The allegations against me make no sense because they are untrue. They are parented by those seeking to stoke and manipulate the people’s anger in order to advance political objectives that have nothing to do with the subject matter of the protests.

The good and creative people of Lagos have worked hard over the years to build it into the dynamic economic and cultural focal point it has become. Lagos has enjoyed over two decades of sustained, uninterrupted growth. No other place in Nigeria can stake that claim. Some people are unhappy with this. They seek to tear down what we have worked hard to build that they may reshape Lagos to fit their own more destructive image. Such people have taken advantage of the current situation and of the public’s passions to set in motion a plan the people would never support if they only knew what the destructive schemers actually had in mind.

Not only lives have been lost in Lagos and throughout Nigeria, but livelihoods have also been impaired. I have seen the destruction to businesses, shops and homes.

I empathise with those who have lost their businesses and residences through no fault of their own but because hurtful, destructive misanthropes took it upon themselves to use this moment to disguise their efforts to destroy and upend the prosperity and hope so many of us took so many years to build. This is not what the genuine protesters wanted and no one should blame them for this destruction. In this tense situation, we must be careful not to rush to conclusions and to make sure we ascertain the true facts that we not be deceived toward rash action that may prove to be against our own interests.

This is particularly true regarding the Lekki incident. Various players will promulgate different casualty numbers. At this moment, no conclusive figure has been ascertained. Although an investigation has been launched by the governor, a totally accurate picture of the events may never be known. I for one refuse to engage in futile speculation regarding the possible number of casualties for such talk misses the vital point that we all must recognize.

We strive for a more compassionate, progressive society. Thus, we must do more than measure injustice by the number of dead or wounded. Injustice is injustice regardless of the number of victims from whom blood is drawn.

Based on the facts that come out of a thorough investigation, government may need to amend the terms of engagement for deployment of military forces in instances of mostly peaceful civil disobedience and protests. Although one of our nation’s most respected institutions, the military is not adequately equipped and trained to deal with such situations. It is placing a burden on the military they are ill-suited to carry.

Moreover, the time has come to take the necessary legal actions to allow for the creation of state police and the recruitment and training of many more police officers. Such state-created forces should be based on the modern tenets of community policing and optimal relations and cooperation with local communities.

Measures such as these are needed to cure present gaps in how military and law enforcement treat the general public. These proposals are important and they do not hamstring proper law enforcement and security operations. We know there are criminal elements in society primed to harm people and seize property. We expect this of criminals. What is not expected is that people will be brutalized and scarred by those commissioned to protect and serve them. This anomaly must end.

Given all that has happened, I must stress the great theme that underlies this entire situation so that it is not obscured and its proper societal impact lost. The right to protest is more than integral to the democratic setting; It transcends any form of government. The following thought may seem incongruous – but the right to protest exists only where orderly society exists.

Because of my strong belief in the right to protest and my adherence to democratic ideals, I was among those who actively protested the annulment of the June 12 election. I eagerly joined and sometimes led multitudes who took to the streets to protest the singular injustice of that historic moment. We demanded the establishment of a new democracy in Nigeria. Those protests are a part of the reason we have democracy in Nigeria today. They laid the foundation for the youth today to protest and to call to the fore their grievances whenever our social or political institutions fail them in a material way.

Thus, I cannot not wax nostalgic about pro-democracy protests of the 1990s yet castigate those who today protest against any form of institutionalized brutality.

No democratically minded person can fault those who protests in this regard. No society, even the most democratic, is perfect. All nations suffer lapses that cause even their most respected institutions to fall short of their better ideals. However, our imperfection does not preclude improvement or reform. We must constantly put our institutions and government to the test that we may reshape ourselves into a better nation constantly improving the manner in which it treats its citizens. If we do not commit ourselves in this way, democracy may not long be ours. We must be frank in recognizing our societal ills as well as  resolute in curing them. Sometimes progress comes one election at a time. Sometimes, one protest at a time.

It must stand as a maxim for any compassionate, sane society that innocent people should not die or be injured at the hands of law enforcement. Enough blood has been spilled; enough pain has been felt.

Yes, some in the police have lost their way by distorting their helpful mission into its opposite. This gross malpractice by a tainted minority must stop so that the bulk of good police officers may do their job properly, with the support and thanks of a grateful community. This cooperative, productive embrace between the people and their genuine police protectors cannot occur as long as some in uniform continue to serially abuse fellow Nigerians.

In this regard, I must say that the steps thus far taken by the government are constructive. SARS has been ended and further reform has been promised with tangible steps taken in that direction. However, much more needs to be done for there is valid evidence of recurrent brutality and violence. Indeed, this is why the protests began in the first instance.

We are in a complex situation where almost every step has political overtones. Among the protesters, there are many people who do not politically support either the state or federal governments. However, this should not be a determinative factor in how one views the protests. We must not allow subjective politics to taint our view of what is right when it comes to the exercise of the fundamental civil liberties that we should all hold dear. Partisan narrowness cannot be allowed to redefine our core precepts of justice and human rights. This matter transcends daily politics. It goes to the of our constitutional arrangement and love of the people. While others may play politics with this issue, those who care about the nation dare not.

Young Nigerians across the country have peacefully stated their case. The president has pledge reform and should be given reasonable time to achieve them. The protests have accomplished their primary objective. There is no question that more needs to done. To achieve further progress, however, will require greater dialogue between government and protest leaders. As has been the case with almost every successful protest in every nation, there comes the decisive moment where a protest movement must shift gears to from demonstrations in the streets to negotiations with government. The protests against brutality are nearing this new stage or perhaps have already entered it.

Protest leaders and their genuine companions must now be careful. If the protests become too protracted, those genuinely interested in combating police brutality stand in danger of losing control of the protests. The risk is that the protests degenerate into something starkly inferior to the noble cause initially pursued. If so, the protests may then become associated in the public mind with localized disruptions and serious inconveniences. Through no fault of their own, except not having adequately planned their strategic endgame, protesters might lose the moral high ground they now occupy.

Here, government must also be exceptionally restrained. The protesters have remained peaceful. What has happened is that petty criminals and political miscreants sponsored by those who seek to stir mayhem are misbehaving and sparking trouble on the outer fringes of the protests.

Police and law enforcement have an overriding responsibility to differentiate between protesters and criminal elements. No doubt, they must stop the criminals. However, it would be morally wrong and politically counterproductive to use the existence of this fringe criminal element as a pretext to checkmate genuine protests. While some may think this is a cunning way to short-circuit the protests, such misguided cleverness will only worsen matters, rendering discussions towards a satisfactory settlement more difficult.

The present situation clearly does nothing to profit me politically or otherwise. It has complicated matters for me because many people now wrongfully blame me for a violent incident in which I played no part. Still, I stand strongly behind the people of Nigeria and affirm their right to protest peacefully. Along with all well-meaning, patriotic Nigerians, I want to see an end to all forms of institutionalised brutality and I shall do my utmost to see that this humane objective is realised.

For, if these protests can generate meaningful reform, our youth will have achieved a compound national success. First, they would have ended the terrible matter of institutionalized police brutality. Second, Nigeria would have made an important accretion to our political culture whereby government listened to and acted on the recommendations of ordinary people protesting against the wrongs done them.

This would establish a healthy precedent. Yet such durable progress can be made only if government respects the protesters and protesters actively negotiate with government. No steps should be taken by government to  curtail protest activity as the people have chosen this vehicle as their preferred way to interface with government on this issue.

Yes, protest leaders too must appreciate the concrete realities of this situation. Street protests cannot last indefinitely without degenerating into other serious problems that no one wants. You have gotten government’s ear and attention, use this moment to press your case.

The right to protest should be pacifically exercised and never abused; neither should it be feared or unduly curtailed. It is essential because it lends greater depth to the relationship between government and the governed. If we are to attain parity with older, more established democracies, we must accept protests as part of our national development. It is important that Nigeria get this situation right. The direction and pace of our democratic progress weighs in the balance as the entire world watches to see how we manage ourselves at this delicate moment.

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US Based Entertainment Magnate, Deji Bello Hosts IwoLand Top Men At His Nashville Home

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The US Based Entertainment Magnate, Deji Bello Hosts IwoLand Top Men At His Nashville HomeFresh air breathed as some Iwoland young men in the United States planned to change the face of Iwoland to for world-class to boost the economy of the city through their extextravagantitiatives to be championed by growing up of youths at home for the betterment of every proud indigenous sons and dad daughter Iwoland; home and abroad.


On November 20, 2020, some
US-based Iwoland men stormed the city of Nashville, Tennessee to join their counterpart in planning towards 202the 1 fiscal year of Iwoland in championing the developmental agenda of collaboration with other NGOs at home and in US. the  Among those who were present at the Iwoland Business Retreat, 20,20 tagged *“Learn, Grown, and Succeed”* were: Engr Ayodeji Bello (Nashville, Tennessee), Officer Ola-Oluwa Babatunde Fatunmbi (Brooklyn Park, Minnesota); Comrade Dotun Akinpelu (Queens, New York); and Alh Adeniyi Rufai—RAI (Brooklyn, New York). The meeting took place at LAVO LOUNGE, 1310 Antioch Pike,
Nashville, TN 37211, and MARRIOT Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee.


At the meeting, IWOLAND DEVELOPMENT COALITION was fully represented and 2021 Fiscal Year Projects were presented before themselves to be forwarded to Center trial-Working-Committee of the organization for brainstorming and ratification. Among many programs discussed and projected to kick-off come 2021 are though not limited to are:
1. Raising, building,d supporting future leaders among patriotic, committed, and vibrant youths within Iwoland,
2. Initiating SpoSportsportunities as a means for economic survival within the age of 12-16,
3. Sponsoring and supporting of Educational Programs for high-school and college students of Iwoland,
4. Periodic Health and Medical Assistance for young and aged,
5. Youth Empowerment Schemes for interested and identified members of IDC and within Iwoland Metropolitan,
6. Initiating both befitting residential and commercial estate at the heart of Iwoland Metropolitan to change the face and uplift the standard of Iwoland,
7. Revamping Iwoland Water System as currently initiated by Prince Abiodun Katayeyanjue of Metro-Bi, Incorporation, Maryland, US.

Among many things awaiting Iwoland come yea the r 2021 as planned and yet to be executed by these young, vibrant, d proud citizens of Iwoland are but are not limited to; having both industrial and commercial estate in Iwoland aimed at boosting the economic opportunities of Iwoland metropolitan.

The proposed gated residential housing of 70 detached units with fulthe l centralized water system, solar powered-electrification system, drainage system, amusement park and playing ground; and security technology system.


It was discussed that some hidden monumental treasures within Iwoland are to be tapped into for work world-classism center, business/commercial hub to make Iwoland a dream city for all within and outside Nigeria.

These projects are aimed toward bringing development and enhancing economic opportunities in Iwoland and its neighboring communities.

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12 CNN Lekki Posers (For critical thinkers)

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1. There were several vehicles (captured in CNN videos) at the scene- for a shooting that happened for at least 7 hours, 8 minutes (by CNN reporting), the vehicles should be riddled with live bullets (claimed to have been used).

If there are no people with bullet-riddled bodies, a detailed investigation would have gone after the several bullet-riddled vehicles, at the least…and we know the military didn’t go away with people’s “dead cars”.

Featured people (3)

2. Matthew: Using his picture, CNN allegedly geolocated a certain injured Matthew to Lekki toll at 6.50pm.

This was only 7 minutes into their reported time of the military beginning to shoot. According to a BBC reporter who was there for at least 20 minutes, the soldiers were shooting into the air and not at protesters.

Matthew may well have been injured…but from what is the question?

While CNN used his picture (with supposed blood stain), they were silent about the source or nature of his injury (conveniently so, it appears, the image is all that’s needed).

3. Victor Ibanga: His body is the only one in the written CNN report (allegedly captured on camera by eye-witness at Lekki-toll gate) 1:04 am.

Unlike Matthew’s case that CNN claimed to verify by geolocation, they made no such assertion in Victor’s case, and merely relied on the video recording as evidence it was at Lekki-toll and at the time claimed.

Problem is:

A. The soldiers had left well before this time by all accounts (this was over 6 hours after they initially got there).

This is way within a different time frame from when the soldiers were there, and much after when Channels News broadcasted from Lekki-toll (after the soldiers left).

Inference is that nothing in this particular case ties Victor’s death to the soldiers.

B. At 1:04 am, the police/SARS team of killers were supposedly on rampage at the toll-gate, killing anything that moved (according to CNN’s eye- witnesses)…but in Victor Ibanga’s video, we saw a calm scene, with guys around him and one trying to talk to him.

Is that how a scene of police and SARS shooting anything that moves look like?

4. Wisdom Okon: They reported the story of an 18 year old (with his picture), who supposedly went to the protest and got missing.

Problem is, the only evidence of his supposed attendance was his sister’s claim- the sister (who didn’t attend the protest), simply claimed her brother (who she admits was new in Lagos and didnt know anyone at the protest) went there.

CNN provided no shred of evidence he attended the protest, let alone any evidence that anything happened to him, there.

Again, the picture and sentiment it would generate seemed the objective.

Above are the three featured cases of a supposed detailed investigagion.

5. According to CNN’s prime witness (DJ switch), Police and SARS came 40 to 45 minutes after the soldiers left.

This would mean the police/SARS squad was there shooting and killing people for at least 5 hours.

Curiously, CNN could reach no one, who in those 5 hours snapped a picture or recorded a video of the police/SARS, who were allegedly there for way much longer than the military had initially stayed- CNN provided no shred of evidence of their presence either through their eye-witnesses or geolocation.

6. CNN reported victims getting to hospital by 7:19pm…again, based on video evidence they claimed.

We have it on record that there was only shooting into the air for at least 20 minutes (BBC reporter) and that started at 6.43 CNN)…so when were these folks injured by military bullets?

A detailed investigation would have necessitated visiting the hospital to ascertain the cause of injury for these early ones and obtain reports confirming whether or not they were indeed injured with military bullets.

Conveniently, CNN didn’t do this, and left the reader to simply imagine they were victims of soldier bullets.

Logical deductions

7. For all the geolocation capabilities and sourced videos and pictures, not a single evidence of when DJ switch/protesters handed over bodies to the soldiers (as widely claimed) was presented.

Not one video or picture of when the soldiers and also Police/SARS were taking the bodies (as widely claimed) was provided as evidence.

This is at the heart of the narrative and allegation, and the one and only evidence that will nail the case, irrefutably- but not a shred of evidence through their geolocation or in any other way was presented by CNN.

We saw videos supposedly made during the night, so the military didn’t seize the phones of protesters, so was there a conspiracy by the protesters to not capture the biggest moments of the night?…by same protesters that allegedly captured lesser weighty moments?

8. The prime witness says she saw at least 15 bodies (meaning it could be more- say 20) that the soldiers killed and allegedly took away.

They also claim Police/SARS also came and killed. The police were not said to be shooting into the air like the soldiers, they were more business-like, they came to kill…”shooting anything that moves”…and they did this for about 5 hours going by the timeline offered by CNN and their eye-witnesses.

So, it’s only logical that the Police/SARS combo must have killed about 3 times more than the soldiers, at the very least…which will make out a minimum of 45 bodies.

Did they also make away with all these bodies?…and therefore, we are realistically looking for about 60 bodies?

9. CNN mentioned speaking to many families that were looking for their folks, who allegedly attended the Lekki toll protest.

Curiously, the only evidence to back this claim was the supposed claim of Wisdom Okon’s sister (earlier mentioned).

There’s no evidence Wisdom was even at the protest.

Technical

10. For all the shootings…and which was allegedly done with live bullets that night, we shouldn’t be seeing only shell casings.

We should have hundreds and maybe thousands of fired bullets in bodies, on the floor, vehicles, everywhere- the bullets allegedly used, (going by CNN and their eye-witnesses) don’t disintegrate into thin air.

Bullets should have been picked up everywhere…and should still be lodged in different places.

A detailed investigation would have hunted for hundreds of these bullets and presented the findings as evidence- documenting with pictures, where each was found buried or lying.

We will keep waiting.

11. CNN claimed the soldiers approached from both ends, meaning the soldiers were on two sides, opposite themselves.

Logically, it means the soldiers stood on their own line of fire, and since they were supposedly shooting AT protesters in front of them, they were logically shooting at themselves, well within the range of live bullets.

How sensible is it for the soldiers to put themselves in the line of live bullets?…let the reader and CNN make sense of it.

12. The so-called frame of soldiers shooting directly at protesters look like it rested on simply drawing two circles round what one couldn’t make sense of after watching repeatedly. Conveniently, their narrator said “it appears” like…

When you are sure of what you are seeing, it doesn’t “appear like”…you state it affirmatively.

That wouldn’t even cut it, as the military said their men used blanks, making it imperative for CNN to show with clear evidence that they actually shot at people with live rounds, to counter the military.

A detailed investigation will also be sure to look at a gun battle between hoodlums and police, that was reported in same axis, same night, and be sure to diligently seperate findings from both, to prevent muddled reports and claims.

This is not an exhaustive list of posers, but sufficient for CNN and any rational mind to ponder on.

Posers raised after CNN’s updates to their story as of 21/11/2020.

Burden of Proof: It is essential to state that irrespective of the conduct of those accused in this case, the burden of showing proof/convincing evidence that the alleged acts took place, rests with those who allege.

PS: This is no attempt to stop anyone from believing whatsoever they choose, but intended for critical minds who seek to intelligently interrogate issues, in a bid to establish facts by reason and logic.

This is more important for some of us, knowing the plethora of fake and debunked videos, pictures and claims that trailed the alleged massacre, precipitating unfortunate but largely disregarded real deaths and wanton destruction of lives and properties.

Thanks for reading.

AAA

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Lai Mohammed’s Rationality on CNN report on #EndSARS (Read Full Text)

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The Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has reacted to US Media giant, CNN’s investigative report on the October 20 Lekki shootings.

Lai Mohammed said the CNN report as one-dimensional and lacking in balance.

Meanwhile, Lai Mohammed validated a report done by the BBC, which he claimed was based more on facts.

Mohammed further said that CNN should be sanctioned for misinformation and irresponsible reporting.

Read full text below…

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON. MINISTER OF
INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON THURSDAY, 19 NOV. 2020 ON THE ENDSARS PROTEST AND ITS AFTERMATH

Good morning gentlemen, and welcome to this press conference. It’s no longer news that the EndSARS protest last month degenerated into mindless violence after it was hijacked by hoodlums. In the aftermath of the protest, however, there are lingering issues, hence this press conference to take a holistic look at such issues.

  1. Before we delve into those issues, let’s look at the demand of the EndSARS protesters, whose campaign was aimed at ending police brutality and disbanding the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), and the response of the Federal Government:

THE FIVE DEMANDS OF THE #ENDSARS MOVEMENT:
i) Immediate release of all arrested protesters.
ii) Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and
appropriate compensation for their families.
iii) Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and
prosecution of all reports of police misconduct within 10 days.
iv) In line with the new Police Act, psychological evaluation and
retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded
SARS officers before they can be redeployed.
v) Increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated
for protecting the lives and property of citizens.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE:

Gentlemen, the EndSARS campaign had barely begun last month when the Inspector-General of Police announced, on Oct. 11th 2020, the immediate disbandment of SARS across the 36 State Police Commands and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A day later, on Oct. 12th, 2020, President Muhamadu Buhari addressed the nation, stating: ”The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people. We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice.

Following up quickly on that, the IGP on Oct. 13 2020, ordered all defunct SARS personnel to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for debriefing as well as psychological and medical examination. The officers were to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties. The medical examination was carried out by the new Police Counselling and Support Unit (PCSU).

On Oct. 13th 2020, the presidential panel on the reform of SARS formally accepted the five-point demand of the #EndSARS protesters.

On Oct. 15th 2020, the National Economic Council (NEC) directed the immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings, with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other police units. The panel will include representatives of Youths, Students, Civil Society Organizations and would be chaired by a respected retired State High Court Judge. The panels have six months to complete its assignment.

Other decisions by NEC on the Demands:

  • State Governors and the FCT Minister should take charge of interface and contact with the protesters in their respective domains.
  • State Governors should immediately establish State-based Special Security and Human Rights Committees to be chaired by the Governors in their States, and to supervise the newly-formed police tactical units and all other security agencies located in the States. This will ensure the protection of citizens’ human rights. Members will also
    include Representatives of Youths and Civil Society, as well as the head of police tactical units in each of the States.
  • Establishment, by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights, of a Human Rights Public Complaints Team of between 2 to 3 persons to receive complaints on an ongoing basis. That team would be established by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights.
  • State Governors to immediately establish a Victims Fund to enable the payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims.
  1. Finally, on the Federal Government’s response, the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission was directed to expedite action on the finalization of the new salary structure of members of the Nigeria Police Force.
  2. Gentlemen, you can see, from the above, that the Federal Government was not only responsive but was also very responsible in its handling of the demands of the EndSARS protesters. The five demands were met (some with an immediate pronouncement and others by kickstarting the process of meeting them). Despite this, the protest continued and the demands kept expanding, until the protest was hijacked, leading to unprecedented violence characterized by killings, maiming, arson, looting etc.

THE ROLE OF FAKE NEWS, DISINFORMATION IN THE ENDSARS VIOLENCE 5. As I said earlier, what started as a peaceful protest against police brutality quickly degenerated into incredible violence despite an immediate response to the demands by the government. Keen watchers of the developments cannot fail to notice the role played by the social media in the EndSARS protest. As a veritable tool for mass mobilization, the organizers of the protest of course leveraged heavily on social media for that purpose. But on the other hand, the same social media was used to spread fake news and disinformation that catalyzed the violence that was witnessed across the country.

  1. This development has reinforced the campaign against fake news and disinformation, which we launched in 2018. As a matter of fact, as far back as 2017, when we dedicated that year’s National Council on Information to the issue of fake news and disinformation, we had been expressing concerns on the dangers posed by irresponsible use of the new media platform. The concerns culminated in the launch of the national campaign which I referred to earlier.
  2. The social media was used to guide arsonists and looters to certain properties, both public and private. Pictures of persons, including some celebrities, who were supposedly killed at the Lekki Toll Gate by soldiers, were circulated widely, only for those persons to refute such claims or for the discerning to disprove such posts. As we have said many times, no responsible government will stand by and allow such abuse of social media to continue. The fake news/disinformation purveyors have latched on to our concerns to allege that the Federal Government is planning to shut down social media. No, we have no plans to shut down the social media. What we have always advocated, and what we will do, is to regulate the social media. Nigeria is not alone in this regard. The issue of social media regulation is an ongoing debate not just in Nigeria but around the world, including in the United States, which is the flag flyer of constitutional democracy. Even the owners of the various social media platforms, including Facebook, are increasingly joining the call for content regulation.
  3. Some respected opinion leaders have been playing to the gallery on the issue of social media regulation by making inciting and incendiary statements, while some other individuals and groups have been threatening fire and brimstone over the issue of social media regulation. What they have failed to understand is that the only reason we are even able to have this debate is because we have a country. If we allow the abuse of social media to precipitate uncontrolled internecine violence, the kind of which was narrowly averted during the EndSARS crisis, no one will remember or be able to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, for whatever purpose. It is incumbent upon us all, therefore, to strike a balance between free speech – which this Administration is committed to upholding – and fake news/disinformation, which it is determined to fight..

‘SOCIAL MEDIA MASSACRE’ AT LEKKI TOLL GATE

  1. While we await the Judicial Panel in Lagos to unravel what transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate, what we can say, based on testimonies available in the public space, is that the world may have just witnessed, for the very first time ever, a MASSACRE WITHOUT BODIES! Some have tagged it ‘social media massacre’. The testimony of Brig.-Gen, Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo of the Nigerian Army before the Panel was compelling, and I am sure many of you have listened to or watched it. The highlights, for those who may not have watched the testimony, are:
  • Soldiers were deployed all over Lagos, including Lekki Toll Gate, after the other security agencies were overwhelmed on Oct. 20th 2020, upon the request of the state government.
  • Before deployment, the soldiers were briefed on the Rules of Engagement, which they adhered to all through
  • Soldiers at Lekki Toll Gate fired blank ammunitions into the air
  • Blank ammunition cannot do any damage to the flesh, not to talk of killing anyone
  • Firing live ammunition into the crowd, as some have alleged, would have led to mass killing, which never happened.

10 Sadly, the purveyors of fake news and disinformation succeeded in deceiving the world that indeed there was mass killing in Lekki, even when, till date, not a single body has been produced and not a single family or relative has come out to say their child or ward was killed at Lekki. More surprising and irresponsible is the fact that some people have been calling for sanctions against Nigeria or against Nigerian government officials on the basis of a hoax. This is one of the dangers of fake news and disinformation. Once fake news is out, many run with it, without looking back, even when the truth is
eventually revealed. We therefore want to use this opportunity to ask those who have alleged massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate to go to the Judicial Panel to present their evidence(s) to the world or simply admit that they have goofed.

CNN’s REPORT OF KILLINGS AT THE LEKKI TOLL GATE

  1. Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going round, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization. CNN engaged in incredible sensationalism and did a great disservice to itself and to journalism. In the first instance, CNN, which touted its report as an exclusive investigative report, sadly relied on the same videos that have been circulating on social media, without verification. This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that. CNN merely said the videos were ”obtained by CNN”, without saying wherefrom and whether or not it authenticated them. Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the Lekki Toll Gate that evening? If the answer is no, on what basis were they reporting? Relying on second or third hand information and presenting it as ”CNN Investigation”? Why didn’t the CNN balance its story by showing the compelling testimony of Brig.-Gen. Taiwo before the Judicial Panel in Lagos? Is this one-sided reporting what is expected from an international media organization or any serious news organization? If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the EndSARS crisis. The BBC even did a report on this, and we recommend that report to CNN. Talking about the BBC, a reporter with the BBC’s Pidgin Service, Damilola Banjo, was at Lekki Toll Gate protest ground that night. She was quoted as saying soldiers were indeed at the Toll Gate but they shot ‘’sporadically into the air’’ and not at the protesters. CNN that was not at the scene reported otherwise.

12 In airing its so-called investigative report, CNN conveniently forgot that on Oct. 23rd 2020, it tweeted, from its verified twitter handle, that the military killed 38 people when it opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, Oct. 20th 2020. Less than a month later, the same CNN, in what it called an EXCLUSIVE report based on a rehash of old, unverified videos, was only able to confirm that one person died in the same incident.

13 In its jaundiced reporting, CNN was blind to the fact that six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed in unprovoked attacks. Obviously, CNN did not consider the security agents human enough. CNN, in its ‘investigation’, was blind to the wanton destruction of property in Lagos and across the country. Also, CNN was blind to the burning of police stations and vehicles all over the country. Instead, it went to town with unverified social media footages, in its desperation to prove that people were killed at the Lekki Toll Gate. Again, This is irresponsible journalism for which CNN deserves to be sanctioned. We insist that the military did not shoot at protesters at Lekki Toll Gate. They fired blank ammunition in the air. Again, anyone who knows anyone who was killed at Lekki Toll Gate should head to the Judicial Panel with conclusive evidence of such.

THE ROLE OF THE SECURITY AGENCIES

  1. At this point, it is important to say that the Federal Government is very satisfied with the role played by the security agencies, especially the military and the police, all through the EndSARS crisis. The security agents were professional and measured in
    their response. Even when their lives were at stake, they exercised uncommon restraint. Their professionalism and measured response saved many lives and properties. For example, despite arresting hordes of looters during the violence in Lagos, the army treated them humanely and even counseled them before handing them over to the police. The same cannot be said of those who unleashed mayhem on the security agents, killing and maiming them, sometimes in such a barbaric manner that is unprecedented in these parts. As I said earlier, six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed all over the country during the crisis. This is in addition to 196 policemen who were injured; 164 police vehicles that were destroyed and 134 police stations that were razed.

15 Also, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Customs Service and Nigeria Immigration Service all lost infrastructures, equipment and other valuables to attack by hoodlums during the crisis. Eight medium security custodial centres in six
states (Edo, Lagos, Abia, Delta, Ondo and Ebonyi) were attacked, with 1,957 inmates set free and 31 staff injured.

  1. The Federal Government will therefore not accept a situation in which some so-called human rights bodies and jaundiced media organizations will continue to harass the security agencies over their roles during the crisis. Soldiers, policemen and other security agents deserve commendation, not condemnation, except, of course, their critics are saying they are not human beings and that their own rights do not matter. It is
    depressing and demoralizing to continue to vilify men and women in uniform, who themselves were victims of senseless violence unleashed by hoodlums. The role of the human rights organizations, in particular, became suspect after they simply ignored the brutal killing and maiming of security agents during the crisis, as well as the orgy of violence that left 57 civilians dead, 269 private/corporate facilities burnt/looted/vandalized, 243 government facilities burnt/vandalized and 81 government warehouses looted, and instead continued to dwell on the bodiless and bloodless ‘massacre’ at Lekki Toll Gate. They did not see anything wrong in the public and
    private properties that were burnt or looted, neither did they see anything wrong in the fact that some of the businesses that were looted belonged to struggling young men and women. All they could see in their biased view of the whole situation was a hoax massacre.

DJ SWITCH

  1. Still on the alleged Lekki Toll Gate massacre, one of the purveyors of fake news and disinformation during the EndSARS crisis was DJ Switch, real name Obianuju Catherine Udeh, even though she claimed to have authentic evidence of mass killings. Surprisingly, instead of presenting whatever evidence she may have to the Judicial Panel, she chose to escape from the country under the pretext that her life was in danger. I ask: in danger from whom? The military has come out to say they never sought after her. To the best of our knowledge, the police never declared her wanted. Her conduct thus becomes suspect. Who is she fronting for? What is her real motive? Who are her sponsors? If she has any evidence of killings, why is she not presenting it to the Panel? If she was so desperate for asylum in any country, does she have to resort to blatant falsehood to tarnish the image of the country just to achieve her aim? In the fullness of time, this lady will be exposed for what she is, a fraud and a front for
    divisive and destructive forces. At this juncture, we want to appeal to countries that have made hasty judgements on the basis of fake news and disinformation emanating from the EndSARS crisis to endeavour to seek and find the truth.

SANCTIONS ON SOME TV STATIONS

  1. In the aftermath of the EndSARS crisis, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) fined three broadcast stations for using unverified and dangerous information from social media. Commentators, many of whom didn’t even know why the NBC imposed the fine, rushed to allege an attempt to stifle free speech. Unknown to them, the stations themselves know that they breached the Broadcasting Code. Two of them have paid their fines in full, while the third has paid a part of the fine, with an appeal for time to pay the balance.
  2. The position of the Federal Government is that not only were the fines justified, the NBC was indeed lenient. It is sad to see the traditional media jettisoning the age-long gate-keeping process and instead rushing to rely on the free-wheeling social media – devoid of any gate keeping – for news. Sadly, there is an emerging trend in which even the traditional media is freely using materials from social media without taking the pains to verify their authenticity. This is a dangerous trend that must be curbed, in the interest of the media practitioners themselves, the profession and indeed the country.
  3. Had the NBC wielded the big stick, some broadcast media organizations would have faced more severe sanctions than mere fines. Recall that an otherwise reputable broadcast media organization had carried a fake report that the Ecumenical Centre in Abuja was on fire during the violence that followed the protest. Though the organization in question later retracted the story, the kind of reprisal attack this could have sparked is better imagined. Also, another reputable broadcast media organization featured a report that identified a maintenance worker atop a bank building overlooking the Lekki Toll
    Gate as a sniper, leading to attacks that destroyed many of the bank’s branches. The organizations have not even been sanctioned for this terrible disinformation, yet rabble rousers have latched on to the fines to make all sorts of baseless allegations.

CONCLUSION

  1. In conclusion, gentlemen, let me reiterate the following:
    a) The Federal Government was responsive and responsible in meeting the demands of the EndSARS protesters
    b) The irresponsible use of social media by some unscrupulous persons aggravated the violence that erupted in the wake of the EndSARS protest and helped to precipitate the violence. While the government has no plans to shut down the internet, it will work with stakeholders to regulate the social media to curb abuse
    c) Those who use the social media responsibly have nothing to fear, but those who abuse it have every reason to be worried, as no responsible government will stand by and allow a few unscrupulous elements to set the country ablaze.
    d) CNN goofed in its preconceived stance that the soldiers who were deployed to Lekki Toll Gate indeed shot at protesters, killing some of them. CNN relied heavily on unverified and possibly-doctored videos, as well as information sourced from questionable sources, to reach its conclusion. This should earn CNN a serious sanction for irresponsible reporting.
    e) While the Judicial Panel sitting in Lagos works to unravel what really transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate, available evidence so far points to the world’s first case of MASSACRE WITHOUT BLOOD OR BODIES.
    f) The Federal Government commends the security agencies for acting professionally and showing utmost restraint all through the EndSARS protest and the ensuing violence, an action that saved lives and properties
    g) Human Rights Organizations should note that the security agents are also human beings and they have rights too. Even if the organizations, for whatever reasons, are reluctant to recognize the human rights of security agents, they should quit vilifying them as they are wont to do. It is also disheartening that the human rights organizations have not seen anything wrong in the mindless violence that was perpetrated in the name of EndSARS.
    h) DJ Switch (Obianuju Catherine Udeh) should quit peddling falsehood and present her case, with verifiable evidence, to the Judicial Panel sitting in Lagos. No agency of government has declared her wanted hence she has no reason fleeing or seeking asylum anywhere.
    i) The sanctions imposed on some broadcast media organizations by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) are justified, in view of the unprofessional acts of the organizations which were in clear breach of the Broadcasting Code, as stated by the Commission. It is also imperative for the traditional media to authenticate information
    from the social media before pushing such to the public
  2. Gentlemen, I thank you for your kind attention. I will now take your questions which must be strictly on the issues I have addressed here.

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