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‘Buhari Must Reveal Who Instructed Army To Kill, Number Of Fatalities’

It is the duty of President Muhammadu Buhari to inform Nigerians who gave the instructions that led to the extrajudicial killing of peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll-gate area in Lagos on Tuesday, insists Stan Chu Ilo, a research professor of World Christianity and African Studies at DePaul University, Chicago.

In an article shared with HumAngle on Saturday, Ilo, who is also a Catholic priest in South-East Nigeria and an honorary professor of Theology and Religion at Durham University, England, said the president should disclose exactly how many people were killed.

“In his address to the nation, President Buhari did not tell the nation who unleashed the military and the police against innocent and peaceful Nigerian protesters,” he observed. 

“He must tell the nation how many Nigerian youths were killed by his forces because he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The answer to this national outrage is not to outlaw peaceful protests and shut down the country.

“It has become clearer to me more than ever that Nigeria’s democracy is under threat from the Nigerian military. This ever-revolving cycle of a unitary, centrist and authoritarian governments run by the military or ex-military men and their anointed ones is a travesty of democracy, and will not take us anywhere as a nation.”

He described Buhari’s speech on Friday as painful, shocking and lacking empathy.

“He took no responsibility; his words were not convincing and he made no connection with me as I listened. His speech didn’t connect with the cries of the youth and the endless cries of a suffering and anxious nation. Indeed, his speech only darkened the ominous cloud hovering over this nation, following the social convulsion that is pushing the country on the edge of the precipice,” he said.

“Nigeria should be in mourning for the death of our nation as many of us watch helplessly as our young people burn with anger against the state, and as those who are meant to protect us turn their guns on our children.”

The associate professor said it was important for the president to understand the grievances that fuelled the protests. These included police brutality, lack of protection for lives and properties, which he added “was a pledge made to Nigerians by the current president, whose military background gave him initial credibility among Nigerians that he would be a law and order president”.

“Many of us have lost friends, colleagues, and family members to violence and crimes. Economic and agricultural activities have been stalled in many parts of Nigeria because of the near breakdown of law and order,” he continued.  

“Many Nigerians wonder how these criminals and so-called herdsmen could easily acquire high-calibre weapons capable of killing so many people. The brutality and savagery of these men are as despicable as they are condemnable, and yet we claim to have a government in Nigeria

“It is intriguing to me that a government that has failed to fight these terrorists and criminals and protect her citizens, could easily deploy thousands of soldiers today on our streets and highways against innocent citizens!

“Nigerian young people are pouring onto the streets because they are exhausted from long years of suffering, hunger, and starvation, and are being sentenced to a punishing bleak future if this status quo continues.”

Ilo said, ultimately, Nigeria’s greatest problem was its corrupt and unpatriotic leadership, and this has led to increasing poverty, malnutrition, failed healthcare systems, and violence.

“The future outlook of the nation is grim,” he concluded. 

“This is because rather than create wealth and produce capital, Nigerian politicians are obsessed with wealth distribution. Rather than address the cries of the poor, Nigerian politicians are obsessed with unethical forms of power-sharing and the parcelling away of our national wealth. 

“Rather than dialoguing with the youths, we are killing them on our streets. Rather than address the structural violence and injustice in the land through a national dialogue and restructuring of Nigeria, our leaders are obsessed with pursuing a deceptive and empty national unity at all costs. Nigeria faces a frightening future if this sad state of affairs continues.”

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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