Nigerian singer and activist, Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana has revealed that the Lagos State government is organizing concerts to silence those planning to remember last year’s End Sars victims.
The End Sars protests last year, led by prominent personalities like Falz and some other celebrities, was held to complain against the incessant excesses of the Nigerian police and their rogue SARS unit.
The protest started out peaceful but took an ugly turn after some protestors at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos were allegedly chased with bullets by the Nigerian military and some reportedly killed.
In memory of the casualties, plans were made to stage an event to honor the End Sars victims from last year, themed the ‘Soro Soke Summit’. The event, which was scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, will be focused on four topics per session.
Those to speak at the summit are Femi Falana, a rights activist; Usman Alkali Baba, the inspector-general of police (IGP); and Shina Peller, a member of the House of Representatives, among others.
Organisers of the summit had earlier secured Landmark Event Centre, to host a memorial in commemoration of one year since the historic #EndSARS protests against police brutality and rights abuses, only for the event center to cancel on the organizers of the summit.
Now, the event will be held at the Lekki Toll Plaza, where soldiers actually opened fire on protesting youths on October 20, 2020, organisers say.
Reacting to the Landmark Event Center cancellation, Falz wrote;
“They killed innocent souls that were simply asking not to be killed or brutalized. A year later, no one has been punished yet for those heinous crimes.
A supposed Police Commissioner ‘warned’ against citizens exercising their fundamental human rights. Yes, a Police Commissioner.
A couple of well meaning citizens decided to put together a summit to reflect on last year’s events and honour the lost souls. Event centre pulls out (Instructions from above”). As I type this, there is already a heavy police presence at the Lekki toll gate.
Best thing they could come up with is organizing “concerts” to try and distract us from remembering the real heroes in all of this. The people they murdered.
What we will never do, however, is be quiet. We will never ever be silenced. Not today, not on the 20th, not ever.”
This comes after the Lagos State Government currently organised a concert on Friday, ‘Eko on Show’ to celebrate Nigeria’s Independence. The concert had electrifying performances from A-list singers like Teni, Davido, Tiwa Savage, etc.
Meanwhile, the National Economic Council (NEC) on Friday advised Nigerians against protesting to mark the anniversary of EndSARS.
A statement signed by Laolu Akande, the spokesperson to Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, urged Nigerians to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement. Akande stated that the advisory was because of the current security situation across the country and the possibility of such protests being hijacked by armed hoodlums.
The Lagos state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu also said, “To forestall breakdown of law and order, the police will use all legitimate means within its constitutional powers to suppress the protest.”
However, civil society organisations like Amnesty International has encouraged the Federal Government to use the #EndSARS anniversary as an avenue to address youths on its plan to ensure justice in the country.