20 Oct In memory of THE dead 2
For the past 1 week, Facebook and Google have been reminding me of my posts and pictures from a year ago
I’ve been ignoring them, too sad to open anyone. What’s the need I ask myself? What has changed since last year? Are things not worse than they were before October 2020?
October 2020 will always remain every green in my memory. As the #EndSARS protest began in Nigeria, people had different reasons to protest.
Almost every young person had a bad story to tell about SARS and/or The Nigerian Police Force. The movement was birthed out of suppressed anger, not just as a result of years of police injustice and brutality but also of bad governance, poverty and high unemployment rates.
I remember the first day I went to the protest ground. We trekked from Ikate to Chevron/2nd Tollgate along Lekki/Epe expressway. I was happy to have trekked. It mattered to me that I would lend my voice to the movement.
The next day, I went to the 1st tollgate. I confess that I was scared when I got there. There was a heavy police presence though they didn’t bother anyone. I spent all evening there before leaving.
On Saturday preceding Tuesday the 20th. I volunteered to help clean up the area. Before long, my husband caught the bug and joined me.
That was my last day at ground zero.
I had my IELTS speaking test on Tuesday at Lekki phase1. I planned to go from the test centre to the tollgate and spend the evening there as usual. However, at the test centre, I got delayed and then the curfew was declared.
With that, I struggled to find my way home amidst the chaos that was already happening along the expressway.
Before this day, the police and state-sponsored thugs had started disrupting the protests in other locations like Surulere, Mushin, and Abuja. We were the only safe heaven left or so we thought.
I came back home around 6 and decided to take a short nap. This was interrupted by repeated calls from my family and friends. Initially, I thought it was random or that were calling to get an update on the latest happenings at the toll.
When the calls wouldn’t stop, I got up and picked my Aunt’s call and she was hysterically asking me where I was. The rest they say is history because we all watched DJ Switch’s live stream and saw the events that followed after. Those living in Lekki continued to hear gunshot sounds all night.
That night, every iota of hope I had in Nigeria died. Things could never be the same!
I couldn’t see any of the people I knew in the military or police in the same light.
As far as I was concerned, they could have been the ones at the toll if providence allowed it.
To date, I shiver when I pass through ground zero. How are the families of those who died coping? Sadly, they wouldn’t be able to grieve openly for fear of the Nigerian government. I think about those whose bodies were taken away. What sort of closure would their family need?
Today for me is for thoughts and maybe some talk. To think about what it means to be a Nigerian and the rather worthless value of life here.
I join the rest of young Nigerians to pray for the repose of the souls of those who died at the Tollgate gate.