Lagosians’ 21st Century Struggle With Civil Rights And Liberty

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By

Hon. Rahman Owokoniran

The Lagos State Government is planning to shell out N61.25 million to bury 130 corpses of #EndSARS victims. After all the denials and lies that the soldiers invited by the state government to storm Lekki Tollgate did not kill peaceful protesters, 130 corpses surfaced virtually three years later. Also the government rejected the white paper report of findings and recommendations of the Judiciary panel set up by them.

Now it all boils down to taxpayers carrying the burden. Somebody has to be held accountable otherwise we should accept our part in the killings of these innocent souls.

Bearing in mind that zero casualties became 130 dead bodies disclosed over a year after, who knows the actual number of deaths in real time?

How much was spent keeping them in the mortuary for over a year? How much was paid to the assassins? How much was paid to relocate the bodies away from plain view? How much was paid to keep it quiet? Hush money they call it. How many people were sacrificed to stop them from talking? What about the families of the dead: do they deserve any compensation?

If a city has to sacrifice this much to prevent its citizens from standing up for their rights, where is our fundamental human right that guarantees liberty and freedom of speech in this democracy? Where is our dignity? A state that cannot pay 100k living wage in this rising cost of inflation is burying 130 corpses with N61.2 million. Do they need to be told how much value could be added if N61.2 million is spent to improve our public vaults? No, they know but it is just not their priority. They will lose customers in their private-built vaults generating huge returns on investment for them.

Lagosians have to wake up. You are being fleeced. Your state has been taken over by bandits who show you every now and then by actions and deeds that you do not count. It is time you weigh your options and stop running from your responsibilities. Lagosians are the only people who can correct these wrongs. The man killed (God knows) how many people in broad daylight and denied it –nothing happened.

He suddenly at his convenience decided to bury a number of the corpses in the daylight under disguise identity –nothing happened.

He is spending N61.2 million to bury 130 corpses, our tax money.

Not answerable to us at all, is he?

How do we hold our government accountable?

But they hold those offices in trust for us through our votes and our paid taxes. We can begin to correct the wrongs of the past by holding our government office holders accountable. If we continue to make excuses for them for whatever reason, they will continue to get away with murder.

Let us speak up now. Understanding that the families of the dead need a closure, the government has to declare the correct information about the number of lives lost. Citizens cannot continue to regard their lost ones as missing persons. Therefore, concerned families must be allowed to identify and decide how they want to bury their dead. They are not government property. They cannot be treated like armed robbers, unidentifiable missing persons or lost victims. Their bodies are possessions of their families to be buried.

What the government owe the families is compensation for their losses due to government illogical, irrational and reckless decision to invite the Armed Forces into a peaceful protest.

The decision was misplaced because there was no rioting at the Lekki Tollgate. Absolutely, the call for military intervention was a panic button triggered by a narrow-minded leader whose judgement was misplaced. This is the more reason why whoever it was must be held accountable to avert future occurrences.

Our lives are seriously under threat and our democracy is being compromised if we do not have a proper documentation of the records of this event. Lagos State cannot earn its rightful place as a mega city state if we continue to showcase impunity, recklessness and injustice which had been the hallmark of our democratic Lagos since 1999.

RAHMAN OWOKONIRAN IS PDP SOUTH-WEST ZONAL SECRETARY

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