CARE, Nigeria Centre for Ability Rehabilitation and Empowerment in Nigeria, has commented on the Lekki shootings of Tuesday 20th October saying it was wrong if the military actually opened fire on #EndSARS protesters at the Toll plaza. He called for improved security and a stop to hunger in the land to prevent possible reoccurrences.
While faulting the military, the Founder, Dr. Chike Okogwu hinted at Mr. Sanwo-Olu’s account where he acknowledged military presence at the scene of shootings yet none knew who gave the order to a shoot. According to him the military has no business in civil protest.
The #EndSars protests, it can be recalled resulted from high-handedness of SARS operatives and all of that. The Endsars movement was very disciplined and organized. It doesn’t call for any “military intervention.”
Okogwu, a seasoned journalist with some 33 years experience explained that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) were consulted and invited to join the protest because everything happened in Nigeria
He said there were many youthful PWDs who couldn’t join the protests for the reason that their lives were not secured.
He gave example of what could happen were a PWD to join the protest at the Lekki Toll plaza and the military should start shooting. There will be a stampede, and even if PWDs escape stray bullets, chances are very high of being trampled upon.
“Imagine somebody like me on a wheelchair, a deaf person or a blind or any PWD at Lekki Toll gate that night. What could have been the fate of that person? That’s why we don’t come out for such protests. Our lives are not guaranteed, we are not protected. When your life is not protected, your voice is not heard”
Okogwu reiterated that a lot of PWDs have been victim of SARS operatives and police brutality.
He gave the case of a blind man who was brutalised during the Covid-19 palliatives distribution. Adding that there are so many other stories of police brutality against persons with Disabilities.
Okogwu, who has produced editorial and commercial contents at CNN, BBC and a host of other foreign and local media houses, advised the Nigerian government to beef up security and provide succour to stop hunger and poverty in the country.
“Security is not about getting military people or uniformed personnel to checkmate the people. Security is about giving the people a lot of comfort and that way they will not go into nefarious activities.
“Look at all the stores and palliatives been looted. Who are the people doing it? Hungry Nigerians. They were so hungry that they forgot the shops they looted belong to fellow citizens with legitimate needs. Hunger has ravaged the land. The Nigerian Government therefore must fast track whatever is being done by way of palliatives, etc.
“The President mentioned the trader moni, farmer moni and all that. There is a disconnect between the President and his statements. It is either the President is not being honest or he is being deceived by those supposedly implementing his programs. It is obvious these deceivers are not reaching the people.
“During the distribution of palliatives, l recall how we engaged the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. Sadly, till this day I have not heard that the Ministry distributed enough palliatives for Persons with Disabilities. They only went to Karmajiji and one or two other places.
“In contrast, you see that in the FCT some days ago palliatives were going round. European Union and other people were doing palliatives for PWDs. What we are saying is this: stop hunger and poverty in the land. Improve security for our people”.