All of these five instances were conducted by either the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police Force or the Nigerian Mobile Police Force.
But interestingly, a significant amount of the 37 acts of massacre are acts of terrorism against citizens of Nigeria. About three are acts of war and a few others are a result of religious tensions and disagreements boiling over. However, two of those acts of massacre are blatant murders carried out by members of the Nigerian military.
Here is a list of the top five acts of massacre in Nigerian history – including the Lekki Toll Gate massacre;
During the Nigerian Civil War, as much as 5,000,000 Nigerians died either through direct acts of war or as a consequence of war. While the Asaba Massacre occurred in October 1967 – at the start of the civil war, this was different.
In August 1967, the Nigerian troops pushed the Biafran troops back into Onitsha, after the Biafran troops had advanced into Southern territories of Edo and Ondo States. On October 5, 1967, the Federal troops tore through the city of Asaba, Delta State and attacked many-a-civilian for reportedly being ‘Biafran sympathizers.’
On October 7, leaders in Asaba sought to stop the drama as they gathered people to march through the city, chanting “one Nigeria.”
But during the movement, men and teenage boys were separated from the women. The Nigerian Military then proceeded to kill a reported 700 men and boys on orders of Second-in-Command, Major Ibrahim Taiwo.
On November 20, 1999, the Ijaw village of Odi, Bayelsa State was attacked by members of the Nigerian military with a reported 2,500 civilians killed. The Nigerian government has however claimed that 43 Nigerians lost their lives to the violence.
Reports have claimed that former President and ex-army General, President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered the genocide.
However, the Nigerian military has claimed that it was ambushed and that it had to retaliate. A few weeks earlier, 12 police officers had been killed by a gang close to the Odi. Every building except a Church, a bank and a health centre was also burned to the ground.
The stand-off between the government and Odi was due to indigenous rights to oil resources and environmental protection. In February 2013, the Federal High Court ordered the Federal Government to pay N37.6 billion compensation to the people of Odi. The government has since paid only 30 billion Naira.
ALSO READ: Is it enough to EndSARS?
Around 8:30 pm on February 26, 2008, over 50 Nigerians – mostly elderly men, women and children – were killed in Ogaminana, Kogi State. Hundreds injured, 5,000 were rendered homeless and more than 20 vehicles, 65 houses and 150 stores burnt.
On February 22, 2008, youths of Ogaminana confronted and prevented a truck carrying Iron Ore to Port Harcourt. They were protesting against the mismanagement of Itakpe iron ore deposits by Global Infrastructures Limited, the Indian firm which had controversial ties to the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
According to Ebira Vonya International, two days later, members of the Nigerian Mobile Police Force were sent to rescue the situation when an Inspector, a Sergeant and a Corporal seriously wounded and Corporal Raphael George abducted. George was later found mutilated and killed. The havoc on February 26 was seen as retaliation by the Nigerian Police Force.
On Saturday, 12 December 2015, at least 348 civilians were massacred by the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State. It was mostly a movement against Shia Muslims. 347 bodies were secretly buried by the army in a masse grave.
In the aftermath, the Nigerian Military claims it was responding to an attempt to assassinate Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. However, those claims were roundly denied.
On October 20, 2020, Nigerians were outside protesting against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) at the Lekki Toll Gate as they had done for much of the 10 days preceding that day. But in the days leading to that, the protests had escalated across the country, with thugs taking the opportunity to ground mobility across the country.
While some of these thugs were out of line in exceeding the lines of protest into full-on anarchy, discomfort has always been a tool for protests. It’s the only way to force governments to actually listen to citizens. However, under the pretence of stemming anarchy, the Lagos State government joined Edo and other states in instituting a curfew.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced that the curfew would commence from 4 pm. But in the afternoon, certain people had been to the toll gate to remove CCTV cameras and as the darkness of night took over, the lights of the brightly lit toll gate were cut and a reported 7-10 Nigerians were shot dead as members of the Nigerian military shot them dead despite only protesting peacefully.
In the thick of the shooting, Sanwo-Olu then announced that curfew had been extended to commence had 9 pm, but it was too late.
What is dead may never die.
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