Legal Nigeria

#EndSARS Report: Lagos, Activists Set For Sustained Skirmishes


Festus Keyamo (SAN) and Lai Mohammed

The Lagos State govern­ment and activists now appear to be at dag­gers drawn following attempts by the former as well as the Federal Government to discredit the #EndSARS Panel report.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, as well as Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo (SAN), had picked holes in the report and some commen­tators claimed that they were not surprised when the Lagos State governor, Babajide San­wo-Olu, after the white paper on the report, last Tuesday, toed the line of the Federal Government that there was no killings at the Lekki Toll Gate, the alleged point of blood spill during the mass protests.

Perhaps, to douse the embit­tered emotions arising from gov­ernmnet’s stance on the report, Sanwo-Olu announced plans to stage a ‘Peace March’, which would include the activists that led the #EndSARS protest as well as the Lagos State Police Com­missioner.

But a large part of the activ­ist community have rejected the ‘Peace Walk’ just as the state government have received back­ing, notably from the Lagos State University students and some pro-Yoruba groups.

It therefore seems that the vit­riolic fallout of the #EndSARS Protests will occupy sensitive space for a little longer than was thought.

Commenting on the develop­ment, human rights activist and lawyer, Barrister Alaowei E. Cleric, said he was not surprised with the decision of the Lagos State government considering the pressure from the Federal Government.

He stressed: “My worry, how­ever, is the government’s double stand. You are talking about the Peace Walk, but you refused the process that will bring lasting peace.”

Cleric, the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Centre for Hu­man Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (CHURAC), continued: “How can you talk of Peace Walk when the people who are cry­ing for justice are being denied thereby continuing writhing in pain?

“Since the Lagos State Gov­ernment proved that it has no political will to do justice to the Lekki shooting then Gov. San­wo-Olu should forget about his inimical Peace Walk.

“Peace cannot come in the absence of justice. A peace pro­cess must proceed with the en­thronement of justice to lull the aggrieved minds.”

On his part, a political activist and media expert, Hon. Dennis Adikwuru, stated: “I can only say that Governor Sanwo -Olu of La­gos State meant well and felt for the slain innocent citizens whose lives were cut down by the Nige­rian military during the peaceful and armless protest of October 2020 against SARS.

“From his initial steps and setting up the panel, the com­position of the membership of the panel and to the release of the panel’s report, I saw the real Sanwo-Olu.

“Unfortunately, the content and revelations in the report brought pressure on the gover­nor in view of the global aware­ness and consequences on the Buhari government with grow­ing cases of irrational killings of citizens.”

Another activist and cleric, Rev. Dr. Kennedy Saltlove, stat­ed: “Considering the integrity and impeccable character of the panel head as a retired jurist and selected members from different groups that were directly and re­motely impacted by #EndSARS, the report should have been pub­lished.

“But it seems the implications of the impacts the report will have against the government made them find a way to leak it as to discredit it.”

Rev Saltlove, President/Exec­utive Director, Citizens Rights and Empowerment Advocacy Initiative (CREMA Initiative), noted: “Out of the 31 recom­mendations, 11 were accepted by Lagos, 14 referred to FG and six were rejected.

“This is like avoiding the is­sues and window dressing them, which will not address recom­mendations of the white paper.”

The cleric cum activist stressed: “The Peace March is not necessary. It does not heal anything. If the government has ensured justice is done and seen to be done by implementing the White Paper report, there would not be a need for a ‘Peace March’.”

Similarly, Dr. Felix Nwosu, a public affairs commentator, stat­ed: “Going by the question you asked about the #EndSARS pan­el report, my take on that is that the Lagos Judicial Panel council came up with the real findings regarding the Lekki Toll Gate incident of November 20, 2020 by their verdict that there was shooting and killings.”

Dr Nwosu, a United Na­tions-POLAC Messenger of Peace, added: “Based on San­wo-Olu’s action, no responsible activist will want to join the proposed Peace March because everything looks like a kanga­roo decision to Nigerians and the families of those that lost their loved ones during the #EndSARS protests.”

Comrade Aluh Moses Odeh, the National Leader, All Middle Belt Youth Forum (AMBYF), however, commended members of the Lagos Judicial Panel on The #EndSARS protests for a job well done and the Lagos State government for being able to fish out those good Nigerians for the important assignment.

On the proposed Peace March by Governor Sanwo-Olu, Com­rade Odeh said: “For us Middle Belt Community in Lagos, who was chased from home as a result of the incessant Fulani herds­men’s killings, we will continue to pray and look out for peace.

“For me, I see nothing wrong with the Peace March the gover­nor wants to embark on. We, the Middle Belt Community in Lagos are with him in this because we want a peaceful coexistence.”