By Lekan Lawani
The sad events of November 20, 2020, have come and gone. The wounded #ENDSARS protesters and their families are left to bear the burden of their injuries.
But the crucial question is, what really happened?
The question continues to beg for answer because in the confusion that followed, truth has become elusive.
Eyewitnesses accounts have become seriously discounted for lack of demonstrable and credible evidence. Government response also has been visited with some measure of disbelief owing to the heavy emotions and trauma that beclouded the sense of judgement of the populace at large.
But let us try to assemble and analyse the facts on the ground. A curfew was imposed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
Signals were sent out to security agencies to try to restore public order. Soldiers moved into Lekki at about 6.30pm, perhaps a bit too early since the curfew was to take effect from 9pm. For a fact, the soldiers allegedly shot at protesters.
The above represents, to a large extent, the sad events of that fateful day.
The next issue is, who gave instructions for the protesters to be shot at? Were there fatalities casualties after the shootings? Who called in the army?
Of the three questions raised above, perhaps the most pertinent is the last.
Even though the governor never denied that he called in the army alongside other security agencies, he was not categorical in his initial response.
Obviously more disturbed by the news of possible fatalities, he was perhaps more interested in absolving himself and his government from any complicity.
This oversight angered more than a few such that even after his media aide in a follow-up statement that the governor had invited the military alongside other security agencies to enforce the curfew statewide, people did not take cognizance of this important clarification.
The army had unsuccessfully tried to capitalise on this lapse of the state government to wrongly put the blame for the shootings on the state governor.
This is a charge that does not and cannot stick.
The plain truth is that inviting the military to maintain the terms of an imposed curfew by the state can never be taken as licence for the violation of citizens rights.
Governors do not determine the terms of engagement of the military in the discharge of a lawful order and so Sanwo-Olu cannot be held guilty of the use of excessive force in the containment of civil disobedience.
The army, NOT Sanwo-Olu, is guilty as charged, in the unfortunate shooting of youths at the Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th of November 2020.