Capitol Hill and a salute to Nigerian Military

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By Philip Agbese

Quite incredible!  In a twinkle of an eye, four persons kissed death during and in the aftermath of the invasion/desecration of Capitol Hill by pro-Trump extremist supporters. Capitol Hill, America’s most powerful symbol of democracy and civil authority, transmuted into an artefact of sorrows, wails, death and blood.

It is an understatement to say, the world is stunned to its marrow! Trump protestors defiled every moral sanctity and the gods of American democracy. They audaciously despoiled the serenity and sacredness of Washington DC, America’s federal capital with reckless impunity.

Enraged American rioters violently broke police barricades to access the Capitol Hill building, smashed window windowpanes, doors, attacked and sparred with security agents so brazenly. The sinister motive was to fart on America’s democracy by disrupting the ceremonial Congress confirmation of President-elect, Joe Biden. The demonstrators schemed to snatch the ballot boxes of the joint Congress session before the gavel descends in the authentication of Joe Biden. They crudely sought to re-enact the Nigerian scenario of inconclusive elections.

But American Police were impatient. They tolerated the remonstrators only for a while. Their gentlemanliness in the face of provocation in line of duty soon dissipated and hobnailed anger. It led to unimaginable security breaches and pandemonium, regarded as the first and worse in American democratic history in over 200 years.

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A woman in the crowd of protestors had a bullet pierced through her luckless body. She was fatally shot point-blank, in the chest, in broad daylight and killed right inside the Capitol Hill building by the police. The trigger-puller cop never gave her a chance to confess her sins. Or probably, seek forgiveness from God Almighty, her Creator, before the journey to eternity. She died instantly.  Rest in peace, “Madame.” You are one of the unfortunate victims and martyrs of American democracy.

Three others, another woman and two men, also gave up the ghost from the fracas after fruitless battles with life in concomitant protests medical emergencies. What? So, America, the global landlords of democracy and respecter of “law and order,” could have security agents spill blood this carelessly?  This is unbelievable! Oooh, American pride nosedived into the odious ditch of partisan extremism akin to familiar African experiences.

The blood of Republican President Donald Trump, America’s outgoing President must have a tinge of African descent. He planned an electoral coup in 2020; but as master of manipulations, he held unto the daisy dais until January 2021, before the coup failed. He must have been a brave man in negativity. He exudes the democratic credentials of most African civilian despots.

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Shockingly, though, before the mob violently broke into the Capitol Hill building with the intent of snatching congress ballot boxes, President Trump had urged his acolytes at a rally held in Ellipse park days earlier, never to concede defeat.

A furious Trump yelled; “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”  And his supporters chanted; “Trump won the election.” That’s the spirit of African modern democrats, in every exactitude. But finally, America and her peoples triumphed against President Trump.  The will of the majority of Americans prevailed and it did not matter as Trump puts it, whether the presidential election had been “rigged” by “radical democrats” and the “fake news media.”

Nonetheless, four Americans paid the supreme price, in partisan-induced protests, which morphed into violence. The deaths came because the rioters resorted to violence, overwhelmed and overpowered the police with barbaric or undemocratic force.

President Trump supporters were ravenous. They pulled down the American flag at the Capitol Hill and replaced it with Trump’s flag. It was an audacious and very determined assault on American democratic heritage.  The cops on duty could not stomach it anymore and everyone had to contend with his unwarranted or senseless bellyache. Security agents did the needful; they resorted to aggressive force to restore public law and order; much as the dignity of nationhood.

America, like Nigeria, are all democratic nations. The haters of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration campaigned vigorously about the imaginary violation of human rights of Nigerians in the #EndSARS protests.  This was even after the demonstrators turned violent, in killings and arsons. The pro-#EndSARS exponents or promoters condemned and faulted every action of Mr. President in containing the violent protests, but were blind to the contraventions of the violent demonstrators.

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The godfathers of #EndSARS protesters foraged everywhere to find conjured evidence to smear and taint the Buhari Presidency over the protests but found none. Unrelenting, the #EndSARS agitators feebly held unto the Lekki Toll Gate alleged shootings by soldiers of the Nigerian Army. They spun a serial web of fake news and tales, claiming various casualty figures from shootings which irritatingly resisted conformity.

The target was to rub mud on President Buhari’s face for alleged abuse of the basic tenets of democracy and also, nail the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. TY Buratai over counterfeit claims that soldiers shoot and killed unarmed and defenceless protesters at Lekki. But their surfeit of crafted tales got them more confused than the personalities they desperately sought to malign or defame and it faded with time.

History is a silent bookkeeper and humanity’s reminder of events. Today, the same Nigerians who falsely whined over fictitious tales of Lekki shootings, copiously citing America’s perfectness, have been nicely shamed by the episode of Capitol Hill’s violent invasion by protestors in America.  But the innocent are always vindicated, if not by man, certainly, by God Almighty.

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Gen. Buratai does not joke with unprofessional conduct by soldiers. He has a special and unfading passion for Nigerians. He perceives every Nigerian as a member of his larger family and treats everyone in the course of his duties like his blood brother or sister. That’s why the COAS is very impatient with any confirmed trace of human rights abuses of Nigerians allegedly perpetrated by soldiers on special assignments anywhere in the country.

It explained his instant establishment of the novel Human Rights Desk in all Army Divisions in the country. Under his leadership, soldiers accept the civil summons and appear in conventional courts to defend themselves over charges of alleged human rights violations. Nigerian soldiers are very conscious of the strictness of the Army Chief on human rights violations and dare not provoke his sensibilities in this direction.

Soldiers assigned to restore public law and order at the Lekki Toll Gate also performed the assignment professionally and creditably. They imposed peace without firing a shot at any protester. What propels the passion of Nigerian soldiers today is shared humanity with all Nigerians. It is conspicuous and it is verifiable. Soldiers performed this difficult assignment professionally and commendably.

Therefore, the shadow of innocence which hovers on their heads is the divine reason for their exculpation from the malicious and vindictive persecutions by troubleshooters in Nigeria, as exemplified by the latest Lekki incident. Those who assemble in dark chambers to concoct all manner of lies and instigate public hatred on soldiers have never succeeded, but rather end up disgracing themselves.

Nigerians should count themselves lucky to have been gifted with a brilliant, humane and compassionate soldier like Gen. Buratai as leader of the Nigerian Army at this point in history. Those who intentionally oppose or seek to disparage him may be understandably blind to the substance of his leadership. But events and time would continue to exonerate and upraise him.

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The outside world also appreciates Gen. Buratai’s modest contributions to the Nigerian Army; like millions of other impartial and unbiased Nigerians. This is why Gen.  Buratai’s initiative to have a Human Rights Desk for the Nigerian Army in every Army Division has paid off. It is beneficial to both Nigerians and the country, visible in improved foreign relations. Nigeria has become a beacon of hope to other nations on how the military should best handle violent protests.

If an enraged cop in a violent protest milieu could shoot point-blank at the chest of a woman in America; what would have been expected of soldiers in Nigeria under the same scenario? But Gen. Buratai has tamed them; they are no longer the brutish and cruel personnel of the days of yore, but a decent and patriotic Army of global acclaim.

May the malicious campaigns of the #EndSARS promoters and acolytes against the COAS and soldiers keep chorusing requiem songs for the antagonists. A big salute to the Nigerian Military, especially, the Nigerian Army.

Agbese is a human rights activist based in the United Kingdom.

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