The attacks on TVC/The Nation

NIGERIA as a nation had arguably one of its darkest moments in the last few days in the wake of protests by #EndSARS activists. Indeed, normalcy is yet to be fully restored after miscreants and hoodlums latched onto the chaotic atmosphere to commit heinous crimes. The stage for anarchy was unwittingly set with the youths’ legitimate call on the government to take steps to end the atrocious activities of the now defunct Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious unit in the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). And the seed for the derailment of the successful protest, which drew support across board in the country, was sown when yet- to-be- identified soldiers allegedly fired live bullets at harmless youths at Lekki Toll gate, Lagos State. What followed were ghoulish actions and wanton destruction of public and private properties and economic assets.

Among the properties and businesses set on fire were Television Continental (TVC) and The Nation, electronic and print media outlets that reportedly share the same ownership structure. Both were attacked by arsonists and buildings, equipment and motor vehicles within their premises went up in flames in a matter of minutes. The seemingly coordinated fashion in which the massive devastation  was executed has given rise to speculations that the destruction of the two business facilities had always been on the cards, with the outlaws simply waiting for an auspicious occasion to act. And as a prelude, fake news was deployed to cause collateral damage. Indeed, the contribution of manipulators and purveyors of fake news to the reign of anarchy across the country lately has been monumental.

It is shameful that the arsonists failed to consider the implications of their devilish action in terms of job losses by their fellow youths who work in the two media outlets. They compounded the salient grievances, including police harassment, extortion and brutality, and the  high rate of unemployment which birthed the protests in the first place. The objective, as is being speculated, was to destroy the economic and financial power of the proprietor of the two businesses, which is very critical to success within the country’s political space. However, whatever may have been the objective, the violent attacks on TVC and The Nation were ill-conceived, despicable and most unacceptable. It is really concerning that media outlets are being targeted.  No civilised society should tolerate such retrogressive and barbaric conduct and action on the media.   And in any case, why would any sane protester launch attacks on the media who are, and ought to be seen as, partners in the struggle for good governance, providing essential platforms to air grievances? Does that not amount to the agitators shooting themselves in the foot? We strongly advise that media houses should not be used to settle political scores. Such a tendency will neither help the cause of the political warlords nor that of the protesters. Political actors should learn to take themselves on and engage in fair competition and stop using the media outlets as cannon fodder.

Once again, we commiserate with the families of youths and security agents who lost their lives in the crisis. We urge the government to treat the grievances of the protesters with utmost despatch to forestall a  recurrence of the unprecedented lawlessness that the country witnessed lately. In the same vein, we enjoin the security agencies not to neglect intelligence as an essential aspect of their duties even in the midst of the crisis.  It will benefit the society immensely if the security agents can draw on the reservoir of intelligence they have gathered during the crisis to call some of the hoodlums, including those who burnt TVC/The Nation, to account when the dust settles. It will be counterproductive and indeed dangerous to wittingly or unwittingly accord impunity to the criminals and miscreants who latched onto the peaceful and well-meaning protests by aggrieved youths to perpetrate heinous crimes.

This is very critical as people need to know that there are consequences for their actions, and that the law will always punish every crime, whether it is committed during a period of crisis or during a period of peace. That is one of the ways to ensure that the country does not continually imperil the lives and properties of its innocent citizens due to the activities of miscreants and hoodlums.



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