Lekki Toll Gate Shooting: I Challenge Those Spreading Fake News To Come Up With The Names Of Those Killed; By Mijinyawa Bashir

Twelve Soldiers U.S. Army Soldiers share tactics and training with a little over 200 Nigerian Army Soldiers from 26th Infantry Battalion in a remote military compound four hours north of the capital in Jaji. The seven- week training includes reacting to an IED, react to an ambush, securing an objective, operations planning, etc. The training’s significance cannot be underestimated. These Nigerian Soldiers may eventually use these tactics when forward-deployed to fight against the violent terrorist organization, Boko Haram. Nigerian Advanced infantry training has significant implications outside of on-the-ground tactical maneuvers. This bilateral military-to-military training carries diplomatic weight showcasing the U.S.’s commitment to its African partners and Nigeria’s commitment to countering violent extremist organizations.

This is an opinion piece by Mijinyawa Bashir.

All available and verifiable facts of what transpired at the congregation of protesters at the Lekki toll gate on the evening of Tuesday, October 20 point to the after-effect of a stampede and not the shooting and killing of protesters by the military, as falsely being canvassed by some people who obviously do not mean well for Nigeria and it citizens. It is a verifiable fact that no single protester died as a result of gun shot injuries on that night. The military were at the toll gate but only shot into the air to disperse the protesters; no shot was fired directly at protesters.

The concocted story of a massacre was deliberately crafted and choreographed to discredit the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and stain its image before the international community.

I challenge those who are spreading the narrative of shooting, killings and the massacre of protesters by the military to come up with the names of those killed or better still ask their relatives to come forward with their identities. The whole narrative around the massacre is a big tissue of lies with the aim of discrediting the government and causing more chaos and instability in the country.

The entire nation is quite aware that the #ENDSARS protest was hijacked by enemies of Nigeria for purely political or other hidden motives, with the main aim of triggering widespread mayhem and instability across the country. The false claim of the killing of protesters, especially at the Lekki toll gate was concocted so as to attract the attention of the international community to blame President Buhari for a crime against humanity.

Those behind this sponsored a false and malicious claim that the military killed “78 protesters” and took away their dead bodies, while the hard fact is that protesters got injured as a result of a stampede, when military personnel made an attempt to disperse them. No single person died directly of gun shot injuries.

Unfortunately, because the government and the military were not proactive in strategic communication around what happened, the narrative of the enemies and adversaries of Nigeria gained momentum, both within and outside the country and almost became acceptable as the true narrative.

That is perhaps the reason why both local and internationally reputable media organisations carried the story, reported it as a massacre and tagged it a Black Tuesday. Fortunately, reality checks also by both local and foreign media organisations reveal that the alleged massacre was not true and a number of these organsations have tendered their unreserved apologies.

Many Nigerian citizens are insisting that if there was indeed shooting and killings of protesters at the Lekki toll gate, the identities of these victims should be brought out for the whole world to see.

While it is a fact that scores of people (including Police officers) lost their lives as a result of the protests and mayhem that followed these, we should not allow unscrupulous elements and enemies of our country to further inflame the situation to cause more carnage. We should all insist and encourage the dissemination of accurate and factual information as responsible citizens. The spreading of false news and information can only further inflame anger and encourage more carnage and the avoidable loss of lives and property.

No country can start to develop or even think about development in a state of chaos and instability. All Nigerians should encourage dialogue and issues that would contribute to bringing an end to the ongoing destructions, arson and looting in the country. We have a duty as citizens to act responsibly and to contribute our bit to bring an end to the present lawlessness in Nigeria and to engage on those issues that would encourage our national healing process.

Mijinyawa Bashir is a Physician and Public Affairs Commentator; he writes from Abuja, Nigeria.

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