After two weeks of sustained protests led by young people demanding the end of police brutality, President Muhammadu Buhari finally deigned it fit to address the nation. He was forced to this eventuality after officers of the Nigerian Army shot at unarmed, peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate site.
The demands of the protesters were straightforward. Instead of good faith engagement, elected government officials- from federal to local government- found a way to take every wrong turn possible. These shocking acts of sabotage against a generation of Nigerians led to the tragic escalation of events that should have led to mass resignations, firings and even legal prosecutions. Sadly, not one person has been made to face the consequences of their actions.
These six men (and one woman) more than anyone else, deserve to lose their jobs for their ignominious roles in the events of #EndSARS and #LekkiMassacre.
IGP Adamu’s appointment last year was widely hailed as a solid one considering his track record in community policing and his experience with INTERPOL. It is hard to see what all the fuss was about. Instead of committing to total reform, Adamu ploughed ahead with his cosmetic changes, setting up his instantly unpopular SWAT team. Worse still, the IGP appears to be overwhelmed by the erratic and despicable behaviour of his officers. He is overseeing a rotting force that is in dire need of reform but he is also a product of this system and is therefore unable and unwilling to get the job done. No reason he should still have a job.
On the first day of the protests in Lagos, violence broke out in Surulere with police attacking protesters. Despite video evidence to the contrary, the Lagos police command claimed protesters were attacking the police. Gboyega Akosile, chief press secretary for the Lagos Governor, corroborated this version of events before sharing a now-deleted thread that accused protesters of killing a bystander, Okechukwu Iloamuazor. Babajide Sanwo-Olu also repeated this narrative at some point before turning around to pay a condolence visit to Iloamuazor’s family. Akosile was on hand of course to share photos.
Nigerians have gotten used to a largely absent president and Buhari unable and unwilling to play any other role turned his back on a nation in turmoil. For the umpteenth time, Buhari directed the immediate disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and then fiddled while the country burned. Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, overseeing a state in crisis was unable to reach the president even after multiple attempts. When Buhari eventually showed up, it was to dispatch a strange, horridly assembled talking down that failed to calm frayed nerves or even take the tiniest of responsibility.
Tukur Yusuf Buratai
Truth be told, the Chief of Army Staff should have been relieved of his position about two or three scandals ago. From the chronicity of Boko Haram to the madness with the Shiites, a more responsive president has plenty of reasons to be rid of Buratai. That way, he would not have overseen the massacre of multiple demonstrators at Lekki toll gate and another site by as yet unidentified soldiers, who then took the bodies away. Buratai’s army then went on a gaslighting defensive, denying reports of hundreds of victims and eyewitnesses.
Sadiya Umar Farouk
The nationwide lootings of storehouses nationwide containing COVID-19 palliatives meant to have been distributed to Nigerians during the neediest days of the lockdowns have uncovered a different can of worms. This disturbing development might seem to be removed from the #EndSARS protests but it relates indirectly. While citizens are facing difficult times – indeed for most of the Buhari presidency – Sadiya Umar Farouk’s Humanitarian ministry has been unable to organise the seemingly obvious enough task of distributing food and relief items to the people who need them. This despite the huge sums of money budgeted and raised for this same reason. Farouk’s appearances at the COVID-19 taskforce briefings always leave the impression of a person who is out of her depth and these findings make it exactly she isn’t to be trusted to do her job.
It takes the worst kind of person to exploit a fellow human’s death in the crude and crass way that Minister of State for Labour and Productivity sought to do at the height of the #EndSARS protests. Keyamo seeking to delegitimise the concerns of millions of Nigerians sent out a desperate tweet that announced the death of his driver. Even though Keyamo’s tweet clearly stated the cause of death- a careless driver- he managed to pin it on protesters in the most inelegant of ways. To think that in his former life, Keyamo used to pose as a human rights lawyer.
The thing with Governor Sanwo-Olu is that he views every decision through a PR lens and would never miss any chance for a photo-op. The coronavirus response briefings were a great way for him to play to these interests. Protests against police brutality? Not so much. To placate protesters, Sanwo-Olu made all the right noises but failed to follow up on any of them. Duplicitous and spineless, the state’s chief security officer was simply unable to protect his citizens. No reason to keep his job after this honestly. His hastily assembled curfew was a bad idea that was the prelude to violence and his failure to get a handle on the security apparatus made it impossible to trust his continued stay in office.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.