With the crossfire that raged in the country for about three weeks and its concomitant brutal stand against the posters, overwhelming majority of who are youths, Nigerians of all walks of life can now meaningfully understand the physical and psychological trauma the entire Ndigbo people suffered during the unfortunate Nigeria, Biafra civil war.
For about 12 days, the youths of Nigeria, in a manner more gallantry than the spirited courage of the ancient Spartan Boys, took to the streets to protest against the harassment, brutality and unprofessional behaviour of the Special Armed Robbery Squad (SARS).
Candidly, the protesting youths tagged their rage #EndSARS. Without an easily identifiable leader, they took hold of Nigeria, particularly the south, simultaneously. From Lagos to Calabar, via Port-Harcourt, through Enugu, down to Ibadan, Abeokuta, Owerri, Awka and indeed the entire southern Nigeria, the action was the same. The demand was the same and unambiguous – EndSARS.
In the first one week, it was dismissed as a youth drama, teenage show or boys and girls’ movement. Their demands were disregarded. By that time, they had added a direct address by the president and commander -in -chief to their demand. Of course, they were not met.
Almost into the second week, the Inspector General of Police addressed the country and noted that SARS had been stopped. The youths then became adamant and insisted President Buhari must address them. He never did.
Like most protests in Third World countries, especially Nigeria, hoodlums took advantage. They torched a police station in Edo State and some officers fell casualties. Such ugly incidents were equally recorded in about two states. Without any professional application or engagement, the army stormed what was regarded as the centre or rallying point of the protest, the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos Island, and opened fire on the youth protesters. It was a tragic moment. Many died. Hundreds got wounded. Blood flew like running water and in the process, the Nigerian colour was shattered with blood.
The stain is an ugly sight to behold.
Since then, there have been all manner of missiles and flak in the country. Peeved by the shooting and killing of armless and innocent youths at Lekki Tollgate in what has been globally recognized as #LekkiMasaacre, the youths, in rage of revenge, and exhibiting foul exuberance, took the laws into their hands, and the country was on fire. As a result, many lives have been lost, including innocent police officers and hapless civilians.
Enraged by the latest development, Buhari eventually addressed the country. Shockingly, he never made any mention of the Lekki massacre.
Remarkably, it must be pointed out here that the EndSARS protest and Lekki massacre have so many things in common with the Biafra war.
First, as General Emeka Ojukwu put it on several occasions, the Biafra episode was a war of liberation. It was a war of freedom. The Igbo people and the firmer Eastern Region felt unsafe and unprotected in Nigeria at the time in view of the genocide that was visited on them by the rest of Nigerians especially in the North, and moved to be a separate entity.
In doing so, through their leader Ojukwu, they demanded to know General Aguiyi Ironsi’s whereabouts, they noted that then Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon was not the rightful person to command the army as supreme commander, they wanted a reformed Nigeria where peace, unity, equity and justice would reign. However, Gowon, backed by the North controlled army, refused and declared war on the East, Ndigbo. For almost 30 months, Nigeria bombarded, starved and massacred Ndigbo and about two million of them perished in the inferno.
In the same manner, the Lekki massacre began with the demand of the youths for the federal government to do away with SARS. Like in Biafra, the government dillydallied. Rather than attend to the youths’ demand, the government came down heavily on the youths and shot them like enemies at the battle front. It was condemnable.
Like in Biafra when Gowon thought that the battle would be over in six months. Thus, he sent what he called police action to flush out the Biafran army, but it was an understatement, and his “force” was crushed. He then launched a heavy attack on Biafra for a continuous three year devastating civil war and Biafra was subdued.
So also, the Nigerian army was said to have taken the Lekki youths by surprise and sent most of them to the gallows. Do not forget that it was during the Biafran war that the notorious Asaba massacre took place. There are striking similarities between the Biafran war and the Lekki massacre. Both were blood bath events. Both consumed innocent youths. The two made achievable and constitutional demands but the government of the respective periods looked at the side.