In October the End SARS movement took international news after the execution of a young hotel owner outside of his hotel. I interviewed my good travel buddy, colleague, and PHD candidate at New York University Langone, Deborah (Debbie) Onakomaiya to find out more. Debbie watched the massacre on Instagram live. “A lot of people have been recovering from the massacre at the Lucky Tollgate.”, she Shared.
What happened at Lekki Toll Gate
On the 20th of October the Governor announced a curfew for 4pm at noon. However this time was unrealistic for individuals at work or for people that were away from home at the time. “Lagos is know to have extreme traffic and curfews are usually issued 24 hours in advance.”, Debbie explained. Many protestors decided to sleep at the protest ground due to the reality of not being able to make it home in time for curfew.
Around 3 PM the Governor changed the curfew to 9PM. But it was too late. Major media outlets reporting the protest were removed from the protest grounds. The only media that remained were personal and social media reporters. Armored tanks were being moved into the city, and flights were canceled at the airport.
By 7 PM all of the lights at the Lekki Tollgate protest site were turned off. Everything was dark. At that time the protestors started singing the Nigerian National Anthem and waving the flag while the Nigerian Army started shooting into the crowd. All exits were blocked leaving the protestors no escape from the area. The shooting continued in rounds between 7 PM – 1 PM. Emergency responders were turned away from the grounds. Witnesses have reported that they saw bodies taken away from the scene after the massacre.
Since the massacre the government has denied any responsibility and death tolls have varied. The Nigerian President did not respond to the massacre until 48 hours later. In his address the President encouraged people to no longer protest or the law would be enforced on them.
Several massacres occurred during the week of October 20th. However in Lekke Toll Gate massacre the crowd did not provoke any violence. Debbie said, “The protesters were peacefully singing the Nigerian National Anthem and the government responded with genicide.”
It is hard for a country to recover from such a massacre. People are looking to get their permanent voting card (PVC). Nigeria also has a two party system. The youth of Nigeria are looking to form their own party, the Young Progessive Party (YPP) and vote out the leaders in the 2023 election.
Coalitions have sprung up to educate citizens about how to know who they are voting for, what rights they have, and how citizens can get their PVC. It is important that movements and coalitions continue to raise their voice for change.
“ALL BLACK LIVES SHOULD MATTER. During the Black Lives Matter Movement in the US there was a lot of support across the globe. But when it comes to justice in African countries, the attention dies down.”, Debbie said. For example there is a genocide happening in Congo but no one is talking about it. Debbie’s Call to action, “Your brothers and sisters need you. All black people from the diaspora, you brothers and sisters are being killed and you can’t be silent.”
Call to action: All blacks need to stand together across the globe. For tips on how to keep the movement going near you or where to start check out my previous article.