NIGERIANS are great ones for big — if sterile and empty — controversies; and the latest in town, Lekki tollgate “massacre” without bodies, doesn’t appear will fizzle out in a hurry.
In all the excitement, however, the unfazed devotion to lies is clear: those who would swear by their mothers’ graves that the government is lying over the “massacre” are the same who will believe the transparent fib that a massacre, without bodies, is real and sweetly trending! Ridiculous doesn’t even begin to cut it.
The latest excitement was sparked by the so-called CNN expose, which the “massacre” disciples believe is sure smoking gun, belching endless smoke of guilt. But it ended a damp squid. Instead of magical facts as proof, what CNN offered was its magical name and brand!
Pray, shouldn’t that be enough? Which other global network matches CNN in sheer brand name in news? Well here, the breaking news: CNN fell flat on facts — no, not in establishing shootings (that is trite) but in proving a massacre, which appears the body language of the grandstanding report, if indeed news could boast any body language!
What is more? CNN quietly reversed itself — from a Twitter verified handle, that glumly carried the fib that tens died at the “massacre”, to one dead and tens injured, from its latest “expose”, that just exposed videos and claims already in the public space. No apologies for previous misinformation? How dare you! Does all-mighty CNN look like one that apologizes? How dare you!
Well, it did something — latching triumphantly over a military officer’s admission, before the Lagos judicial panel, that the Lekki-bound convoy of soldiers indeed carried back-up real bullets, aside from the blank ones the Army claimed its troops shot in the air, to disperse a curfew-busting crowd.
CNN, in seething majesty, claimed that confirmed its reportage that the Army carried live ammo — big deal! Still, did that prove a massacre? That there were shootings was trite. That’s a notorious fact (to borrow that legal-speak) in the public space. What the Army claimed, and which CNN didn’t disprove in own reportage, is that the soldiers used blank bullets, instead of live ones.
Still, enough of this sterile grandstanding. It’s time to deal with useful questions.
Should the Army have shot at the scene — in the air, or at protesters? No — and that no is near-absolute, other things being equal; without prejudice to secret intel, which the authorities might not be gung-ho making public. Shootings should have been avoided — and the Army, and whoever gave those troops the operational orders, can’t wash away that stain.
But could “peaceful protesters” still be that, even after attempting to slap down a legal curfew, knowing full well how their actions, which compelled the curfew, was spiralling into anarchy? And would the legal and .imate authorities reward such outlawry with a sweet pelt of flowers?
So, if you condemn the Army shootings, you must condemn the outlawry that led to it. Anything short of that is galloping hypocrisy, which no right-thinking soul would take.
It’s time, therefore, to quit the massacre-tales-by-the-moonlight; and concentrate on useful lessons to avert future crises. Citizens should know when to call off protests; and the authorities should master how to disperse protesting crowds without creating “massacres”, real or phoney.