If the folks at the United States of America Embassy in Nigeria have a scintilla of propriety at all they would by now be regretting their hasty, ill-advised and undiplomatic statement which tended to endorse the leaked report of the judicial panel on the #EndSARS protests which took place in October last year.
The statement released by the US mission within 24 hours of the submission of the report said ‘’We look forward to the Lagos State government’s response as part of a process that represents an important mechanism of accountability regarding the EndSARS protests and the events that took place near the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020’’. The statement went on to say “Those events led to serious allegations against some members of the security forces, and we look forward to the Lagos State and federal governments taking suitable measures to address those alleged abuses as well as the grievances of the victims and their families’’.
On cursory examination of the statement one gets the impression that the US is trying to be politically and diplomatically correct on the issue with the kind of deliberately obtuse words favoured in diplomatic language. Words like “allegation’’ used in this context will indicate that the US mission was trying to tip toe through what it perceives as a potential political and diplomatic minefield whose possible blowback could end up with the US mission having eggs on its faces.
But on close examination of the entire action of the US mission in releasing the statement within 24 hours of the submission of the report by the judicial panel right up to the visit of the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Nigeria, just days after the release of the report, the engagements he had with some groups and tendentious statements he made at the meeting, clearly indicate that all was arranged and choreographed on purpose.
Why would the US mission rush to issue a statement within 24 hours of releasing a report which was clearly amateurish and riddled with flaws so obvious that even a kindergarten kid can spot? Could not the dapper folks at the political section of the US mission wait to subject the report to rigorous scrutiny before issuing that statement? Did they not see that some names in the report had no surnames and could have been conjectured? Did they not know that some people listed as dead in the report are actually alive and kicking with not as little as a wound on them? Did they see any evidence at all of a thorough and comprehensive forensic and ballistic investigation of the Lekki Toll Gate site for blood, tissue and alleged firearms use on the protesters?
If the answers to these questions is that the US mission saw the flaws in the report and still went ahead to ask the Lagos and federal governments to “take suitable measures to address those alleged abuses and grievances of the victims and their families’’, then we can only conclude that the US mission was either being sloppy and unprofessional in their duties or being deliberately mischievous.
And then in this context we can then ask the US mission our own pertinent questions. Can the US mission admit a Nigerian seeking a US visa with a passport that does not bear his surname? Can the US mission accept a note verbale from the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Nigeria not appropriately worded with the right references and protocol? For that matter can a report of the sort that was presented by the #EndSARS Judicial panel be accepted by any court in any jurisdiction in the United States of America?
Again if no is the answer to all these questions why then did the United States mission in Nigeria with all its known strict adherence to procedures and standards on official documentation stoop below its bar to issue a statement which circumstantially indicates support to the findings of a judicial panel that did not do due diligence to the task given to it?
It is possible that the US mission was in a hurry to impress their oga Blinken-who was billed to be in Nigeria shortly after the release of the report of the panel – to provide him with something to get under the skin of the Nigerian government in order to wring their hands.
But my sense is that the US actually arranged the whole caper altogether manipulating the work of the panel behind the scenes in the stage-managed manner typical of well-known US political manipulation methods to achieve certain foreign policy objectives in furtherance of its interests. And as we have seen in Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya etc, the US when it means it, does not mind jettisoning the nuances and niceties of International law in pursuit of its interests abroad. The entire action of the US mission with the sequence of events and pronouncement right up to the visit and engagements of the US Secretary of State in this regard is too pat to be merely coincidental. It was meant by the US to take the advantage of the moment of presentation of the #EndSARS report to put the boot in and secure for the US a vantage position in the unfolding political events leading up to the 2023 elections.
In the specific case of the #EndSARS debacle, the US mission by its actions is trying to set up Nigerians against Nigerians by butting in as a moral arbiter in an issue that concerns Nigerians across the board which is within the capacity of the Nigerian state and society to handle and resolve. The US attempts to involve itself in this matter is misplaced and smacks of pot calling kettle black knowing the antecedents of the US on such issues around the world.
The US cannot by any stretch of imagination be a moral arbiter in Nigeria’s political issues. In the US police officers routinely kill African Americans as sport. They should deal with that before they can butt into Nigeria’s case.
Also, sometime this year, in April, the US issued a statement in which it stated that from its independent findings the Nigerian security forces deployed at the Lekki site shot in the air and not at the protesters. So what has changed from April this year to November this year for the US to disavow its finding and instead latch onto the findings of a report that is clearly unprofessional and at variance with what it told the world?