In the last 5 years that I have been analyzing public affairs online, I have never seen a government fight so hard to handle a crisis, like the incident of the shooting in Lekki on October 20.
The Nigerian government has been using a big lie to cover up a very ridiculous one since the unfortunate event occurred. It is as if the government has forgotten to curb its adventure of falsehood, as various concerned agencies prepare to lie to get out of the scandal. Nigerians are not stupid; they know the truth and they knew it from day one. The leaders know that the people know those responsible for the shooting, but they don’t seem to care. What they are doing is a mockery of the intelligence of the general public.
The morning after the incident, no one claimed responsibility for the shooting. The Nigerian army was silent. The media filled the communication gap by recording different death rates. When the military couldn’t take it anymore, they began posting screenshots of news reports and labeling them “fake news.”
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu desperately needed a story to tell the public as the de facto “security director” of the state. It revealed that forces beyond its control were behind the attack on peaceful unarmed protesters. This statement indirectly pointed accusing fingers at his political godfather, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Sanwo-Olu then went bust on CNN where he hinted that Nigerian soldiers were behind the attack. Apparently the army leadership felt they had had enough with the governor. He came out to admit that Nigerian troops undertook the operation, but were invited by the governor.
The same army that denied being at the Lekki tollbooth now claims the soldiers only fired blank ammunition into the air, as warning shots to disperse the protesters. Despite the videos and images, the military claimed the role of victim and labeled the protesters as oppressors. In the words of the army, no one was shot and there was no massacre.
According to a statement from a senior army official, Lieutenant Colonel Bello, the protesters, infiltrated by thugs, turned violent and attacked the soldiers who were so patient and kind that they even offered water and drinks to their attackers. I guess this is the image of the Nigeria of our dreams.
While the issue of the presence of soldiers at the crime scene was confirmed, the Federation’s attorney general, Abubakar Malami, who appeared to be out of date on the state of the quagmire, hinted that thugs in military uniform carried out the attack. The government cannot even bring its officials together to lie in unison.
Nigerians hoped CCTV footage from Lekki Concession Company, LCC would provide a rare glimpse of what happened that night at the tollbooth. But the LCC soon claimed that its cameras stopped recording at 8 p.m. when the tollbooth was heating up. The company is eager to move forward with the business, has demanded to take control of the toll, so that the business can continue as usual.
Both the shooting and the death rates have become a mystery. And they are mysteries because the government wants it to be so. The goal is to drag their feet on the matter until those who ask questions grow old, develop gray hair and lose interest in the bloody incident.
Even if you think that the testimonies of Obianuju Catherine Udeh, aka DJ Switch, are inconsistent, you must also admit that the government has broken the scale of inconsistency with its different versions. It is concerning that the alleged bodies of the murdered protesters have refused to surface. Nor have we been able to record credible cases of relatives searching for their missing loved ones. The most frequent cases are that of the wounded, dealing with serious injuries in hospitals. Coming and going has left us all in limbo. But on the scale of the inconsistency in the accounts, the government’s ranking could touch the skies if done. DJ Switch, who was allegedly granted asylum in Canada, explained on different occasions that his life is in danger. She revealed that the death threats she received from different places were overwhelming and she had to move from one house to another in search of safety.
DJ Switch’s role on the night of the alleged carnage was iconic. It is one more testimony to the power of women in society. In Africa, women are generally believed to be weak. But as famous writer Chimamanda Adichie once said, some women are stronger than their male counterparts. DJ Switch proved it. It’s no news that female-run countries, such as New Zealand, Taiwan, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong (city), and others, performed better in the battle against coronavirus than men.
The stories behind the Lekki Shooting wouldn’t have been so clear without DJ Switch, who expertly played the roles of doctor, political leader, journalist, disc jockey and activist on the same night, simultaneously. As soon as the protesters were attacked, he posted live on his Instagram page and televised the event using his smartphone. She was seen reporting the event as the bullets rent the atmosphere. She could be heard directing the protesters queuing up behind her and adhering to her instructions. She was also seen treating a man with gunshot wounds. A bullet was extracted from the body of a young man who was rumored to have passed away after the bloody ordeal. Despite the danger, she was also the voice of the protesters that night. He overcame his fears and addressed the military commander who was leading the soldiers. She gave regular updates on her status to the outside world who couldn’t be on the scene. He also took several victims to the hospital for professional medical care.
That night, he became the face of the protest movement at the Lekki tollbooth, where celebrities who publicized protesters on Twitter were largely absent. According to her account, a man was shot by her during the ordeal. She said a man jumped on her while asking others to cover her. She wondered what was going on, but soon knew they were forming a shield around her when a shooter took aim at her.
DJ Switch suffered injuries that night, both physically and mentally. He left the scene of the shell attack that he showed during a live Instagram session. His life changed but not positively. From the disk jockey that was the life of the holidays, she became the target of overbearing state and non-state actors who didn’t want her to tell her story to the waiting audience. They wanted to silence her. A country with a huge land mass of 923,768 km², with six geopolitical zones, which is home to more than 200 million people, became too small and hot for her, that she had to run away.
It is a shame that the government that is supposed to protect an asset like her has been accused of persecuting her.
It is unclear if she is actually in Canada considering a recent statement from the Canadian high commission in Nigeria. If true, then it can be said that Canada came to their rescue in the same way that it has even rescued Nigerian millennials from poverty in the country. Some Nigerians tried to sponsor a petition to bring her back to Nigeria to face trial. But that’s ridiculous, right? Canada always comes in favor of the oppressed. The rumored support she might be receiving reminds me of how Canada rescued the then 18-year-old girl from Saudi Arabia, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who was on the run from her family. The country is also home to several dissidents from Saudi Arabia.
DJ Switch will be safe. It will also take care of your mental health. The strong woman will always miss her home, but her safety is important. One day, he will return to the land of the rising sun to tell his story. This time, we hope that more people will listen. DJ Switch shouldn’t cry anymore. The story of Lekki Shooting, which has become part of Nigerian history, will be incomplete without his role.
Once again, it is sad that you are receiving death threats. Who are the people who want her dead and what is her ultimate goal? Only time will answer both questions.