BEING THE TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE #DEFENDLAGOS COALITION ON ISSUES CONNECTED WITH THE #ENDSARS PROTESTS AND AFTERMATH HELD AT THE LAGOS AIRPORT HOTEL, IKEJA ON FRIDAY 3, DECEMBER 2021
Gentlemen of the Press, Comrades, friends and colleagues.
We welcome you very warmly to yet another Press Conference by the DefendLagos Coalition on some of the topical issues at the front burner of national discourse today. This, as you well know is the second in a series of such Press Conferences, we have called to enable us state where we stand and make known our position on some of the issues connected with the ENDSARS Protests and the aftermath.
It is important to remind you that the DefendLagos Coalition is an amalgamation of over 60 civil society organizations and self determination groups formed following the wanton destruction of Lagos on Wednesday 21st, October 2020. At our maiden meeting, we reviewed the #ENDSARS protest and came to one conclusion: that the genuine struggle to end Police brutality had cleared being hijacked by forces with scores to settle with some political gladiators in Lagos. Even some of those backing the ENDARS protesters today can attest to the fact that we are not traditional politicians. But we are indeed stakeholders in whatever happens in politics as we are not immuned to the consequences of politics on our lives as Nigerians and activists who reside and eke a living in Lagos State.
Many of us here today have been in the struggle for liberation in Nigeria from every form of oppression right from our students’ union days. Some of us here today were at the vanguard of the struggle for the termination of military rule in Nigeria and the actualization of the June 12, 1993 Presidential elections. Indeed, we are experienced enough to know when there is a struggle in which some innocent ones are being used and manipulated by unseen forces with a different unspoken agenda.
We began to warn at the level of our individual organisations immediately the #5for5 Demands of the ENDSARS Movement was acceded to by the Federal government and a new demand for the disbandment of government at all levels was then made. We know you Gentlemen of the Press could not have forgotten that weird demand. Just in case some have forgotten, the Internet never forgets and videos evidence still exist.
This was the basis upon which we began to counsel the self-acclaimed #ENDSARS protesters that the forces that hid behind their genuine struggle to end police brutality and ride upon it to destroy Lagos on 21st October 2020 are still actively in pursuit of their agenda. The forces that set Lagos on fire and brought her backward by many years are still unrelenting to date.
Gentlemen of the Press, this was why we have addressed you twice in the last one year and notified you of our intention to mobilise our members to go all out and defend Lagos in the course of this year alone. The last time we addressed you, we did not hide behind a curtain like evil forces would do. We addressed you with our full chest before cameras to notify you that our methodology will be peaceful and rooted in the PEOPLE POWER and the strength of the masses.
Our strategy was simply to mobilize genuine peace-loving people of Lagos in their thousands to come out to protect Lagos from the forces of destruction. But in a desperate attempt to make their tales by moonlight believable, they went ahead to accuse some of our leaders seated here today as those behind the alledged attacks on EndSARS protesters last year and alledged attack on one of the witnesses who testified before the Judicial Panel of Inquiry. They all including some of the leading lawyers backing them today know us very well from way back, that, that is not our own modus operandi. That is not who we are. That is not how we do our struggle and win. We are peace advocates and practitioners, we are pacifists who fight the strength of numbers.
Just as though to validate the credible intelligence in our possession that the plot to bring Lagos on her knees is still very much active, one of the #ENDSARS protest leaders at 10:50pm on Tuesday 30, November 2021, a certain Sarah Ibrahim tweeted as follows: “Sanwolu (sic) has denied the #LekkiMassacre in his White Paper Report. Youths ARE WE READY?? Are we heading back to the streets?? Are we going to get justice? Should we shut everywhere down”?
This is nothing but an act of economic sabotage by the same unseen forces to return to the streets of Lagos and finish the destruction of what they left behind in October 20202 like the Egyptian plagues. Let it be made clear here today again, we will defend Lagos using the PEOPLE POWER. It will be peaceful. It will purposeful. It will be legal. But it will be stronger than the power of the vocal minority trying to super-impose their false narrative on the majority. It is important to state here also for avoidance of doubt that some of our leaders here today attended all the sittings of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution. We saw how the attempts to erect the false Massacre Narrative before the panel fell poorly like a pack of cards. This is why each time we have asked them, where are the families of these people “massacred” at the Lekki Toll Gate? They will respond with insults and curses. When we ask them, have you read the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry? They will call the god of thunder and resort to threats. Law is not about emotions. It is about evidential facts that will constitute a body of weight of evidence. Murder is a serious offence. When you say somebody was killed you must say where, when, how, by who, with what and for what. All of your claims must be able to stand the test of forensics.
It is in the light of the foregoing, that we hold firmly to the position that, those bandying the massacre narrative have a bigger agenda than Lagosians and indeed Nigerians know at the moment. With time, the truth shall unfold. But for now, we wish to commend the Lagos State Government for keeping faith with the 14-day timeline earlier set for the release of the White Paper. We hold the view that the White Paper is a win-win for both the government and the genuine #ENDSARS campaigners. We urge the government to begin the full implementation of all the recommendations that are within its remit without delay. We appeal to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to rally the Presidency, the National Economic Council (NEC), APC legislators, the Police Service Commission and the Inspector General of Police amongst others to push for necessary reforms in the Police.
The DefendLagos Coalition hereby commends Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the exemplary spirit of statesmanship displayed in reaching out to some of the leaders of the #ENDSARS Protest Movement during his broadcast on Tuesday 30th November 2021. As a coalition, we disagree with those who have criticized the governor for reaching out to the “EndSARS” protesters leaders who declined the invitation and with one in particular overreaching himself and calling the Governor a murderer. We appeal to the Governor and his team to remember the words of the late Nelson Mandela, “There is No Future Without Forgiveness”. We urge the governor to see this as not just the price of leadership but also a sacrifice to win peace.
Gentlemen of the Press, it is in pursuit of this peace objective that the DefendLagos Coalition hereby accepts the invitation of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to the planned Lagos Peace Walk.
For avoidance of doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu, please be rest assured that you will not walk alone. We will walk with you shoulder to shoulder. We have commenced the sensitization and mobilization of our members from the nooks and cranny of Lagos. We await the full details of the planned Lagos Peace Walk from the Governor and his team; we will be there in our good number. We appeal to the Governor and indeed all lovers of peace, let genuine reconciliation and healing begin now!
Thank you for your listening attention and God bless.
Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM)
Activists For Good Governance
Centre Against Injustice and Domestic Violence (CAIDOV)
Oodua Republic Front
Coalition of Oodua Self Determination Groups (COSEG)
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