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#EndSARS: No room for blackmail in Lagos, says APC

Published by The Nation on Fri, 27 Nov 2020


By Emmanuel Oladesu The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State has faulted the report by Cable News Network (CNN) on the October 20 Lekki shootings.The party said the report left more questions than answers, adding that it was suspicious.Its Publicity Secretary, Seye Oladejo, said those trying to capitalise on the report to blackmail the state government were mischievous.The Nigerian Army had confirmed that soldiers were deployed at the venue where peaceful #EndSARS protesters had gathered on October 21, but nobody was killed.The army has also maintained that no live ammunition was fired at the protest ground, stressing that only blank bullets were used to disperse the demonstrators.But, CNN reported that a forensic probe of the bullet casings recovered from the scene of the incident revealed that live bullets were fired at the protesters.Oladejo said in a statement that the report by CNN amounted to throwing spanner in the works of the judicial panel constituted by the Lagos State government on the order of President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the incident.He described the CNN report as a piece of fiction fueled by rumours, adding that it contrasted with the balanced reportage by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which had correspondents at the scene of the incident.He said the panel headed by Justice Doris Okwuobi will not rely on media reports in arriving at a conclusion on what actually transpired at Lekki Toll Gate.Oladejo said: I guess a time like this represents a period when silence is eloquently golden. The judicial panel of enquiry is still at work trying to dig out the facts and put the pieces together. Im just too sure the panel wont rely on media reports to form an opinion on what actually transpired.Its interesting to note the two contrasting reports of two reputable international media brands , the BBC and CNN, on the same incident.While the BBC had correspondents on ground for professional and ethical coverage, the CNN put its controversial reports together a month after the incident relying on eye witnesses, rumors and the deployment of technology from the comfort of their London studio to piece their fiction together.While the technology could capture the military deployment and the purported shooting, it couldnt show us the alleged carting away of the victims by military. It also remains a mystery that we didnt see a blood soaked Lekki toll gate after the incident. The series of resurrections of hitherto announced dead victims was conveniently left out just like the fluctuating number of fatalities.He added: The report left more questions than answers and a discomforting suspicion of its intention. This speaks volume about the reputation of the medium. Anyway, it will go down in history as reporting a bloodless massacre.However, its imperative that the fact finding panel is not distracted from its onerous assignment.Its advisable that whoever has a submission should approach the panel rather than give in to needless sensation.The healing process which has commenced in earnest requires the support of all and sundry.The inauguration of the independent committee to spearhead the rebuilding of the monumental losses and the helping hand extended to the victims of looting and wanton destruction are moves in the right direction.Also, a yesterday, Dedicated Lawyers Forum, a group of legal professionals in a statement said CNN owe the Nigerian government an apology by relying only on social media report to form its opinions and for describing the #EndSARS protest as a massacre.Damola Akinlaja, the convener of the group said while CNN is entitled to its opinion, it is disheartening for Nigerians to be celebrating the report as if it is the final authority on the matter.We support the position of the federal government on this matter that CNN should be sanctioned for spreading fake news on its platform all in the name of investigative journalism. Their report on Lekki is a direct opposite of what investigate journalism represents.Read Also: U.S. congresswoman, others boost EndSARS movementCNN has apologised for making mistakes in the past and we are sure same will happen on this issue, despite their claim that they stand by their report. Everyone is talking about protesters killed which is yet to be verified. Why is nobody talking about policemen that were innocently killed too' Dont they have families' Lest we forget, the governor of Lagos was forced to declare the curfew after hoodlums went berserk burning police stations, killing police officers and attacking innocent civilians. That is what any responsible government will do.Also speaking with Daily Independent, Rotimi Fashakin, a chieftain of the APC said the Lekki incident wouldnt have happened had the protesters not overreached themselves despite all that was done by the federal government and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos in meeting their demands.Fashakin, a former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) also said it was wrong for the protesters to demand that the President who was overwhelmingly elected by Nigerians should resign.When the government waved the olive branch and accepted the demands of the protesters by disbanding SARS, accepting the five-for-five demands, the protesters still said that they are not satisfied. They said they wanted the President to address them.The president still went ahead to address them, still, they were not satisfied. Then they move to the demand that the President must resign.When your protest is about you making demands that a constitutionally elected President that enjoys the mandate of majority of Nigerians to resign, then it is clear that the protest was anything but peaceful.Look at the massive destructions of public and private assets that were destroyed in the wake of the protest. It is left for the government to deal with the situation the way it should.In his submission on the CNN report, Oni-Olusola Gbenga, a veteran journalist wroteOn October 23, CNN tweeted that 38 protesters were killed. On November 18, they said only one died of the 38 killed. Are they saying the 37 had resurrected'He also wondered how a detachment of the Nigerian military can shoot into a crowd of protesters, killing just one person unlike Stephen Paddock who shot into a crowd at Las Vegas, killing 64 people.S. Paddock, 64 shot into a crowd in Las Vegas in Oct, 2017 killing 60 persons. A detachment of Nigerian soldiers shot at a crowd of protesters killing only one, according to CNN. And some of my compatriots insist the CNN report is credible. Who did this to us'Also speaking with our correspondent, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, the APC chairman in Lagos said Governor Sanwo-Olu deserves commendation on his handling of the recent #EndSARS protest in Lagos, saying he couldnt have done better than the governor if he was in his capacity as governor of Lagos state.He said: We are impressed with the governor in the manner with which he handled the #EndSARS protest. If I was the governor of Lagos state, I couldnt have done better. He deserves all the accolades he has received.First of all, he empathized and identified himself with the #EndSARS protesters. He first went to their protest venue in Alausa in a show of solidarity with them. He waved the flag and said inspiring words. He also went to the other venue in Tollgate area to address them also showed solidarity with them. He listened to their demands and took their letter to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja .He then set up a panel when he came back to address some of the issues raised. I was there when the governor made calls to some of these protesters to join him in discussion with members of the panel. We had to delay the meeting until we got a response from #EndSARS protesters who eventually elected their representatives. The panel couldnt start work until they presented their representatives.When asked to react to the shootings at Lekki Toll gate on the night of October 20, Balogun said it was surprising how the governor who has no control over the military could order soldiers to the venue. He however said he will wait for the outcome of the judicial panel set up to look into the matter.Of course, he has no control over the military. So, it is quite amazing to me how he could order soldiers to shoot at protesters. But the panel is still sitting and I believe that the truth will be revealed soon.I want to commend the governor and we are very proud of him. He is never against peaceful protests but he is on the same page with them he said.When contacted, Gani Taofik, the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) disagreed with Baloguns position. He said that recent events have shown that the governor seemed to have been overwhelmed by the current challenges facing the state and should resign honourably.He saidLike we stated earlier, it is more expedient for the governor to welcome the counsel to step aside now that the Nigerian Army has revealed him as the person who invited the soldiers to go and quell the Lekki protests.
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