Lekki Shootings and the Burden of Lies! By Oladapo Ajibua

The credentials of the members of the investigative panel were never in doubt. Still, not many Nigerians expected a government-constituted panel to give a report that punctured the denials that trailed the massacre of 20-10-20 at the Lekki Toll Gate.

This is a first of its kind, and it remains to be seen if quite a departure from the norm, the panel released a report that corroborates testimonies of witnesses to the pogrom. It was a hot debate that dominated discussion on social media for months.

The damning report revealed the folly of those individuals who sought to “assist” the government in declaring and enforcing the claim that no life was lost on 20-10-20.

These individuals chose to stand by the version of the story that absolves the government of any blame. Their reasons are best known to them, and I would rather avoid conjectures.

However, the burden they carry since the panel released its report is a matter of public debate, and on this, I am much obliged to comment.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed is no stranger to controversies, but his statements about 20-10-20 have catapulted him into a new realm of illustrious mendacity.

Nothing has given greater enforcement to his new adventure in infamy other than the feeble attempt to dismiss his previous stance as a mere misrepresentation of his own facts.

Nigerians find it difficult to accept that excuse, and hence, many have asked him to resign. We all know that won’t be the case. Except for Kemi Adeosun (I stand to be corrected), Nigerian leaders would never tow the path of honour that leads to the exit door from a juicy office! No matter what Lai or his principal chooses to do, history has been written, and future generations will revisit the Lekki event.

There is a court that is far higher than the ICC; it’s called conscience. In its halls, the soul is searched and purged of its contents.

Now, why Desmond Elliot again?! The young legislator continues to make history with his mouth. Would he be reminded that silence is a better refuge than gibberish?

He has successfully demonstrated that Hollywood and its make-belief scenes and not politics is a better habitat for him. He donned the garb of unabsolvable guilt by attempting to redeem himself with the feeble excuse of knowing that there was a “calamity” at Lekki and yet failed to respond appropriately. I have often said that many will run themselves aground while attempting to defend the innumerable gaffes of this regime.

One man Desmond Elliot needs to learn from is Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos and the man who should be at the centre of the storm under normal circumstances. Sanwo-Olu stood steadily on both sides of the fence in a display of political astuteness and uncanny foresight.

Rushing to the hospital in apparent solidarity with the masses and going ahead to make a statement refuting any death from the shooting, the governor satisfied his bosses and the masses in one swoop. He also went ahead to set the panel of enquiry whose newly released report has unleashed the fury of citizens on those who had brashly denied any deaths at Lekki Toll Gate.

Although it is not a comfortable landing, Sanwo-Olu avoided the full weight of the backlash through vintage political intrigues and social manipulation.

Omotola Jadesola-Ekeinde, the former beauty queen and goddess of Nollywood, has demonstrated better wisdom in keeping mum. Indeed, a good actress should know when the game is over and avoid puerile excuses like that churned by Mr Elliot. Omotola has been a better manager of the embarrassing fall-out of the panel’s report by choosing silence over ineffective further denials.

I have also observed how many others who hitherto played the politics of blind loyalty have attempted to distance themselves from the damnations of their denials. Some have swallowed their pride and shamefacedly come out to admit the panel’s report. This lot is a shade better than their adamant cousins. Those other ones who, although unpaid in some instances, have become unrepentant protagonists of all the absurd realities of this current regime. For these individuals, I pray that may their souls be redeemed from the perdition of wilful imprudence.

How we got to this point where denials and false propaganda dominate our politics is a matter of amazement. Why citizens chose to assist oppressive regimes to remain unaccountable for their actions even when such actions jeopardise liberties and destroy our national posture in the comity of nations is bewildering. The incident at Lekki has exposed us as a nation whose leadership suffers the scarcity of truth, whose elite citizenry is sometimes influenced more by loyalty to feudal godfathers than the truth. This is a societal malady that portends a failed state guided by anarchy and primordial selfishness.

Lies impose a burden upon those that love them, and it weighs on the conscience of those that peddle them. According to Uthman Dan Fodio, a 19th-century Islamic scholar, conscience is an open wound that can only be healed by the truth. There is a gaping sore on the conscience of those individuals who attempted to deny the loss of lives at Lekki.

The condemnation by Nigerians may not weigh so much on them; after all, this is a country where life is cheap, death is trivialised, and men would sell their conscience for a political seat. However, they will surely not deny that they suffer and bear the debt of conscience those poor souls have laid on them. It will remain an indelible mark that will define their inner peace and our estimation of their true worth for a long time to come.

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