Saturday’s turn of events on the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protests confirmed what we already know: that the government would mount a resistance. The police in anti-protest gear and the army had occupied the area even before protesters arrived, and when they did, harassed, intimidated and threw some into Black Marias. Although the protest turnout was significantly less than expected, and reportedly no life was lost, nothing constituted an affront than that singular action from the government.
The #OccupyLekkiTollGate demonstration was a mass resistance against the reopening of the now-infamous Lekki Toll Gate, where peaceful protesters of the #ENDSARS movement were shot and injured by the Nigerian army last October. The decision to resume tolling at the gate last week had many Nigerians in outrage, and saw youth representative Rinu Oduala pull out from the Lagos #ENDSARS panel, on the account that justice was yet to be served to victims.
The #ENDSARS movement, and other adjacent indignations that will likely arise, means Nigerians have found their voice politically as they push for much-deserved social change in the country. But ultimately, this is a war, and warfare requires critical strategy and brainstorming. On Twitter, someone had suggested that funds should be raised to have the Lekki Toll bulldozed to the ground. While this act will not bring justice to the victims, or compensate their families, it means that the toll booth would cease to exist as a profit-making machinery.
The Lagos judicial panel set up to investigate the Lekki shooting may have been compromised, but seeking justice for the victims is one way to immortalise them. More political education needs to be done to embolden the people, and an understanding of civic rights. In a democratic society as ours, protests are an exercise of constitutional rights and can be wielded at any time. Furthermore, a liberation movement that doesn’t center women, LGBTQ people, and other marginalised persons in the country is hypocritical. More than ever, Nigerians need to understand intersectionality, the idea that people can be oppressed on different fronts and at the same time.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.