Gift Joseph Okpakorese
Nigeria as a country witnessed massive protests which would eventually go down as one of the major defining moments of the present administration under the leadership of President Mohammadu Buhari and in the history of the federation.
In October 2020, Nigerians especially teenagers, gathered together to stage protests across major cities against the intolerable police brutality. The Well orchestrated uprising, which initially went on peacefully for days took an ugly twist when the Nigerian military via the use of force disseminated the protesters who were insisting on their rights and keeping vigil at the Lekki Tollgate in October 20.
The sad but justifiable episode was as a result of the oppressive methods used by an arm of the police department referred to as SARS in carrying out their duties especially towards teenagers whom they perceived to be involved in fraudulent activities as cybercrimes. The incident caused quite a stir as it attracted global recognition which also leads to the interventions of international communities who lent their voices into the discussions and the cries against police brutality, the popular #EndSARS protest that was widely publicized.
More so, Nigerians in the Diaspora were not left out of the crises as they lent their voices in anger and unism with regards to the ills being perpetrated within the federation especially as some of these ills directly or indirectly affected them. Some faced certain challenges ranging from setbacks in business investments, loss of lives to loved ones, families, and friends, as well as being given negative name tags and wrong impressions generally.
It is important to note one of the major highlights of the #EndSARS protest, was the lekki tollgate shooting by unknown soldiers, which even though they denied such involvements, led to the loss of lives of innocent and defenseless citizens of the nation.
Recall that with the involvement of CNN news reports, certain truths and shocking revelations about what transpired on the said day of the shooting came to the limelight. Many casualties were documented while the federal government kept denying not being guilty despite the overwhelming fractions of evidence such as those accentuated via the CNN report among other exclusives reported by Peoples Gazette.
Also, there were other non-state players, pushed by government agents who made efforts to hijack the protest in the aftermath of the Lekki tollgate shooting, creating chaotic scenery and wreaking public infrastructures, and victimizing honest citizens.
Just recently, it has been reported by international and local news sources, that Amnesty International UK has shortlisted CNN’s Lekki Tollgate investigative report for the Amnesty UK Media Awards 2021.
According to the reports, the investigation was enlisted under the Broadcast News category, alongside BBC Africa Eye: Lagos Inferno: The Explosion that Rocked Nigeria; Channel 4 News: Carers in Scotland denied death in service payment; and Sky News: Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis.
Thus, it was confirmed that The Amnesty Media Award, which has been operating for over 29 years, intends to acknowledge the crucial functions played by media reporters, news outlets, and journalists globally especially as depicted in the overwhelming risks undertaken by them in their bid to spotlighting human rights abuses and victimizations all over the globe.
As events eventually unfolded it was discovered upon investigation and to the knowledge of the ever-curious public, that the Nigerian Army who initially refuted allegations that it fired into the crowd and termed it as unfounded news later succumbed to a judicial panel of inquiry that it did not shoot at any civilian, however, findings from the CNN inquiry published on November 18, uncovered evidence that Nigerian security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters.
Meanwhile, the panel of judges for the awards ceremony consists of very high-profile UK journalists and Amnesty representatives and the victors of each category will be declared openly at an actual event on Wednesday 28th of April 2021.