Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has asked State Governors where the Federal Government has deployed military to quell protests to demand their withdrawals now to avoid further escalation of crisis.
Soyinka lamented that the tension in the land had become unimaginable.
“At that earlier mention Lagos sector, Lekki, where most of the affirmative action gatherings had taken place, soldiers opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, killing and wounding a yet undetermined number. One such extra-judicial killing has drenched the Nigerian flag in the blood of innocents – and not symbolically.
“The video has, in accustomed parlance, ‘gone viral’. I have spoken by phone to eye-witnesses. One, a noted public figure has shared his first hand testimony on television. The government should cease to insult this nation with petulant denials,” he said.
Soyinka said it was absolutely essential to let this government know that the Army had now replaced SARS in the demonic album of the protesters.
He said his enquiry so far indicated that the Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu did not invite in the Army and did not complain of a ‘breakdown in law and order’.
“Soyinka stated that nevertheless, the Centre had chosen to act in an authoritarian manner and had inflicted a near incurable wound on the community psyche.
“Need I add that, on arrival in Abeokuta, my home town, I again had to negotiate a road block? That went smoothly enough. I expected it, and have no doubt that more are being erected as this is being written.
“It is pathetic and unimaginative to claim, as some have done, that the continued protest is hurting the nation’s economy etc. etc. COVID-19 has battered the Nigerian economy – such as it is – for over eight months. Of course it is not easy to bring down COVID under a hail of bullets – human lives are easier target, and there are even trophies to flaunt as evidence of victory – such as the blood-soaked Nigerian flag that one of the victims was waving at the time of his murder,” he said.
“To the affected governors all over the nation, there is one immediate step to take: demand the withdrawal of those soldiers. Convoke Town Hall meetings as a matter of urgency. 24-hr Curfews are not the solution. Take over the security of your people with whatever resources you can rummage.
“Substitute community self-policing based on Local Councils, to curb hooligan infiltration and extortionist and destructive opportunism. We commiserate with the bereaved and urge state governments to compensate material losses, wherever,” he added.
Soyinka said to “commence any process of healing at all – dare one assume that this is the ultimate destination of desire? – the Army must apologize, not merely to the nation but to the global community – the facts are indisputable – you, the military, opened fire on unarmed civilians. There has to be structured restitution and assurance that such aberrations will not again be recorded.
“Then both governance and its security arms can commence a meaningful, lamentably overdue dialogue with society. Do not attempt to dictate -Dialogue!”