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#EndSARS Massacre Narrative: A case of social PTSD and need for therapy by Femi Onakanren



MRA #EndSARS protesters across Nigeria are calling for an end to police brutality Lekki youths

By Femi Onakanren

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A disorder characterised by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.

Following the recent resurrection (sic) of the #EndSARS massacre narrative, the ensuing virtue shaming and obstinate commitment to mischief are frightening.

So, an individual asks questions and seeks clarity on a matter, and all of a sudden he/she doesn’t have human feelings or sympathy? Or does the individual deserve to be abused and cursed?


The initial thinking was that the social crusade the whole #EndSARS massacre matter was hinged on was the delivery of equity and justice? Abi, wasn’t that the entire point of the protest? Is justice then to be influenced by sentiments? How is asking for proof a demonstration of complicity? If there is a truth being advanced, isn’t asking for proof actually in support of the social crusade for equity and justice?

The truth is never afraid or ashamed to defend itself; it has nothing to hide. A lie on the other hand demands to be believed either by misdirection, obfuscation, or threats.

The constant vitriol because of highlighted inconsistencies in the stories from 20-10-20 is reminiscent of poor thinking and latent bias. This is a mental shackle worse than any physical form of slavery or prejudice; basically, one is the warden and simultaneously also the prisoner. Also, there is no need for a wall or cage; one’s entire existence and perception of life is the prison.

All lives are believed sacred. The lives of the victims of rogue SARS operatives are not more valuable than the lives of the murdered policemen during the riots. Yes, riots.


The livelihoods and safety of innocent citizens which were affected during the rogue operations of criminally motivated members of the SARS unit are not more important than the livelihoods, properties, and safety of innocent citizens that were destroyed during the riots (it had devolved from a civil protest to a public disobedience misdemeanor).

Lagos EndSARS panel submits report to Governor Sanwo-Olu

Lagos EndSARS panel submits report to Governor Sanwo-Olu

Lady justice is aptly captured as blindfolded for a reason; justice must be unbiased. She carries a scale for a reason; equity must be applied in the dispensation of justice. She has a sword in her hand to enact and deliver judgment.

But have you ever wondered why female personification was used? It is because the female gender is universally revered as being humane and empathetic (at least more than the male counterpart). Thus, even the administration of justice is humane, mercy-driven, and benevolent in empathy.

She is not sitting down because the dispensation of equity and justice demands vigilance, alertness, and preparedness.

Those who subscribe to her crusade must also abide by her tenets. One cannot reasonably seek justice based on sentiments, this will muddle the waters to arrange at a preconceived narrative.

It is rather ironic that the supporters of the #EndSARS narrative seem unconcerned about facts and logic but demand equity and justice. On which foundation, pray to tell, will the equity and justice desire to be built?


A resounding fascination is that most who are petulantly using the massacre narrative as a prop do not realize that they are suffering from PTSD from many previous years of economic, social, political, and religious abuses, exploitation, subjugation, misrule, manipulation, and poor administration. Unfortunately, the protesters mistook the patience and empathy of this administration for weakness. The protest was winning but somehow, they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

What is unfortunate is that the petulance is being expressed against the wrong party but a wounded animal often becomes aggressive when it feels cornered. The important element in the preceding sentence is ‘feel’; it is an emotional reaction based on a difficult history but not rooted in objective, case-by-case facts. This is consistent with the behavior of PTSD victims.

In another sad case of poor self-awareness, the social progress nations that the sorosoke generation usually compare our society with were built on asking questions that often go against the norm. Science, and all the advances in technology, were built on having the courage to ask questions.

There was a time popular opinion stated that the Earth was at the center of the universe. The Earth is not even at the center of its solar system! A respected physicist, Galileo, was incarcerated for asking questions and attempting to review the narrative. History has long vindicated him. There was a time popular opinion believed the earth was flat and when one gets to the edge, one would fall off! There was a time every natural phenomenon was attributed to some divine beings. We know better now.


It stands to reason that popular isn’t right. More often than not, history has proven that popular is often wrong. The easiest way to subjugate a person is to shackle their reasoning and proliferate the adoption and reproduction of the same. Self-sabotage is the ultimate slave master.

There are several social and biological experiments and theories that have proven that constant exposure to a pain point leads to an association of pain with the object, even if the aggressor event or individual is not at the other end. The physical and mental discomfort is as real to the sufferer as if the event were real.

If we are afraid to ask questions and prove our positions based on evidence, then how do we as a society intend to make progressive growth and development? Did we not learn this fundamental principle of progress in all our comparisons?

The saddest outcome of the error-riddled report making the rounds is not the shoddy job done by the panelists. It is not the fact that, based on the report, public funds seem to have been poorly appropriated. No.


The saddest part of the whole development is that even after 12 months, the sorosoke generation and their acolytes have not grown enough, either in courage or reasoning, to review their position and perhaps examine events through the lens of objectivity.

This is what makes me saddest of all. We often complain about poor leadership and we have recipes for a more than fair amount of same. However, a leader is a product of his society. If the vast majority of our youth are still consumed with so much hate, bitterness, bigotry, and bias, how can credible leadership come from them? A tree, it is said, is known by its fruit.

The need for national PTSD therapy via reorientation has never been more obvious. The #EndSARS development proves the point. If the foundation is faulty, the erected building on it is just marking time till its eventual collapse.

Without committed and strategically addressing this fact, all gains; economic, infrastructural, political, technological, even social (religious, cultural, etc.), will be wide open to sabotage. We would be no different from one of the many collapsing buildings we all mourn and vilify the builders; you cannot erect a good building on compromised foundations, using substandard building materials and effecting all through quack civil engineers and workmen.


Femi Onakanren is a business development specialist. He writes from Lagos

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