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Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) has made news headlines in both Nigeria and international news stations for the past few days. His noteriority has grown so much like wildfire and he is now the core subject of gossip tabloids and trending topics in Nigeria with different stories and different tale versions being spun against him. The genesis of his new-found fame: The Lekki Toll Gate Massascre.
The Lekki toll gate massascre happened on the night of 20th of October, 2020, at about 6:50 pm. Some Nigeria Army officials had allegedly opened fire at End SARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos injuring many and killing some other protesters though the details of this event are still a bit sketchy.
The EndSARS movement was a nationwide protest against police brutality in Nigeria which called for an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a controversial unit of the Nigerian Police Force with a long record of human-rights abuses which included intimidation and murder. The protests started in October as a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS to demand for the disbandment and reformation of the police unit by the Nigerian government. Nigerians shared stories and video evidence of how members of SARS engaged in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, humiliation, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion in Nigeria. The protests later spread to other states in Nigeria and soon a total of 22 states in Nigeria were actively involved in the protests which consisted of mainly youths.
President Muhammadu Buhari later announced the scrapping of the police unit (SARS) and directed state Governors to constitute a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to decide on cases of killings and brutality by officers of the defunct SARS so punishment can be meted on rogue officers. The Government also formed a new special unit to replace the SARS which was codenamed SWAT short for Special Weapons and Tactics Team. However, the protesters refused all entreaties to suspend the protests and nominate youth Representatives into the Judicial Panel and called the government’s bluff. Lekki which is in the heart of Lagos is a town which interconnects the whole of Lagos. Majority of traffic in Lagos commute through Lekki hence the creation of the popular Toll Gate. Protesters had been camping at the Lekki Toll Gate for two weeks prior to the shootings and they prevented vehicular traffic on the major thoroughfare during these two weeks of demonstrations thereby systematically cutting off major economic activities in the state.
On the evening of 20th of October 2020 the Lagos State Government announced a 24-hour curfew, CCTV cameras were allegedly removed from the toll gate at about 5:43 pm. In addition, Lagos State authorities cut the electricity off to the toll gate so that it would be dark and filmed evidence of the shooting would not emerge, the advertisement billboards at the toll gate which are owned and maintained by Loatsad Media were also turned off. It was also reported that network providers turned off the network antennas in that area as protesters who used MTN and Airtel as their network providers reported that they were unable to make phone calls or use the Internet at that time. After the lights were switched off at the toll gate, soldiers arrived and allegedly began shooting directly at the crowd. A witness stated that the shooting continued for fifteen to thirty minutes and that after the shooting he observed multiple bodies on the ground. The soldiers were said to have walked in a formation towards the protesters with trucks flashing light before they opened fire which led to the death of some of the protesters and a huge International outcry as regards the use of lethal force against the protesters. This event also escalated into a series of violent clashes within and outside Lagos State and the complete breakdown of law and order. Houses belonging to Government officials were torched and looted, the Oba of Lagos’ place was completely ransacked by hoodlums. Warehouses belonging to the Government were plundered and other amenities such as Police Stations, Banks and Hospitals were either destroyed or completely ransacked by hoodlums.
And Tinubu Emerges.
The night the Lekki Toll Gate massacre took place, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was the first individual who was fingered as the grand orchestrator of the killings. These allegations which were put up by the Fulani oligarchy expressly put the blame on Tinubu for giving the millitary officials the go-ahead to massacre innocent individuals. These allegations which over the past few days have been proven to be completely false held strong at the time because of three major reasons:
Firstly, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is a well-known businessman and politician. One might say, with his political connections and wealth of experience, he has the affairs of Lagos State in the palm of his hand. The Lekki Concession Project which the Lekki Tollgate is a part of is owned and managed by him. Allegations had it that for two weeks since the protest started, Tinubu had been running on some particularly huge losses which forced him to enlist and aid the military in using lethal force against the protesters who were impeding on economic activities in the state thereby limiting his funding and finances.
Secondly, the CCTV cameras and the advertising billboards at the Lekki Tollgate are being managed by the Lekki Concession Project and taking down the CCTV cameras and turning off the billboards would have called for his direct permission and approval.
Lastly, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the massacre was perpetrated by forces beyond his control. President Muhammadu Buhari is definitely beyond his control and unofficially Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the Emperor of Lagos also is, which leaves the two suspects with Tinubu looking more like the main culprit and to make matters worse for Tinubu, he fled the country after the act had been prepratrated thus rasing more suspicions to his involvement.
It might be difficult trying to deduce why the Fulani oligarchy decided to pin the rap on Tinubu, but putting two and two together, the issue of Tinubu’s likely presidential bid has been the major bone of contention. It is a fact that Tinubu is currently not in the good books of the Northern elite and the Fulani cabal since he has made one or two assumptions of having an eye for the top seat. The Fulani oligarchy strongly believe that the political power in the country solely belongs to them, and no other tribe has the authority to seek power let alone question their domination and it has been made very clear that Tinubu is not in their plan for 2023. The fact that he is a political heavyweight, a master strategist with numerous extremely loyal supporters makes him more of a threat than a political ally which is why they have employed every means possible to tarnish and ruin his political and social image so as to belittle his relevance and win over his supporters.
So far so good, the Fulani oligarchy seems to be at the top of this game as many Nigerians now believe Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to be a blood-thirsty villain who would rather have his brothers and ‘children’ slaughtered like fowls rather than heed to their pleas and demands. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who has fled the country has tried to absolve himself from the allegations but it would take more concrete facts to be able to convince aggrieved Nigerians that he has nothing to do with the massacre.
The Fulani-oligarchy are brutal political strategists who derive extreme pleasure in crushing their perceived opponents. There have been numerous examples of this, political careers ruined and rendered worthless. The Chief Whip of the Senate and former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu who was convicted and jailed under corruption charges by the EFCC after he tried to doublecross the oligarchy, Adams Oshiomhole, his shameful fall in the All Progressive Party which he helped build and his disgrace in Edo State, Rochas Okorocha and his stint with the EFCC and now Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK