Parallels are interesting things to draw, it gives people the chance to reflect and draw comparisons between two events or objects interacting and the rioters invading the United States Capitol raised very interesting parallels; people of colour all around the world got the opportunity to see how law enforcement treated a different type of protesters who unlike the Black Lives Matter movement ended up posing a threat, not only to lives and property alone but for a moment, seemed as if the very fabric of democracy was at stake. Many people like me had the same question; What if it was BLM marching on the seat of representative government? There’s no need to ponder much because in June we saw how law enforcement dealt with peaceful protesters in D.C when the President of the United States wanted a photo Op on the front steps of a Church a few hundred meters away from the White House.
The disparity became even more worrying when footage started circulating of security personnel assisting and encouraging the Trump-insurrectionists at different points, almost as if the entire security apparatus was set up to ensure the mob succeeded in getting into the halls of the Senate and House of Representative. This is worrying, to say the least, but ultimately corroborates the much-held distrust minorities have had for law enforcement. Over the course of the United States Presidential campaign, we saw how Police Unions threw their support publicly behind the incumbent while Right Wing bodies were amongst those who aggressively pushed the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ narrative at the height of the George Floyd protests.
It can be no coincidence that that mob of disheveled beings successfully got as far as the Senate and Representative chambers and still managed to walk out without being confronted or arrested. A number of them went as far as granting interviews to journalists, talking about what their intentions had been, and giving the world a clear picture of who the faces of this movement were about. Unfortunately, lives were lost, something that could have definitely been avoided.
Another parallel that can be drawn is the similarities between how the mob was allowed free reign upon gaining access to the Capitol building and how the looting mob post the Lekki shootings were treated. Many people might not have picked up on what happened in Lagos, but as someone who followed the news closely as the looting and burning were occurring, there was a clear absence of law enforcement on the streets of major cities in Nigeria after the armed soldiers opened fire on protesters in Lagos. For still yet to be disclosed reasons, these alleged renegade protesters had the presence of mind to target specific installations (both public and private) in order to burn them down and inflict heavy damage to strategic economic infrastructure. Meanwhile, in the FCT groups of thugs armed with weapons were being transported in security and government-owned vehicles.
In both the Capitol and the Post Lekki incidents it is undeniable that Law enforcement played either an active or passive role in letting crimes be committed and that seems to be where the parallels end. Unlike the Nigerian situation, investigations are already underway to get to the bottom of how such a security breach was not properly prepared for while a less threatening crowd was heavily descended upon previously. Certain key officials have resigned as they see themselves as being accountable for the failures that were observed, and it goes on and on. In the Nigerian situation, government officials and politicians began to plead and beg Police installations to resume their duties and fulfill their obligations. A certain minister and the IGP went further to embark on a tour of certain Divisions to tender apologies. The governor of a state even went as far as offering compensation checks to the families of officers they claim had been killed during the protest (officers were actually killed during the period but not by protesters).
There have been no resignations, no firings or apologies to the general public and business owners who lost their goods during the looting that ensued. The SPAR market in Lekki was looted for 3 straight days without law enforcement showing up to stop anything.
These weren’t protesters, these were opportunistic looters who saw the clear absence of law and order. Look, I know Nigeria is not the United States, but we need to be able to tell ourselves the truth, the Nigerian Police does not serve the public, and time and time again they have shown us they are only allied with power, not truth, justice or integrity.