Stylistic Analysis of Selected Comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre

Stylistic Analysis of Selected Comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre


The proposed thesis is a Stylistic Analysis of a compilation of tweets from a specific digital social movement, #ENDSARS. This campaign was an instance of hashtag activism to end police brutality that appeared on Twitter following series of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria. The protests which takes its name from the slogan started in 2017 as a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS to demand the disbanding of the unit by the Nigerian government. After experiencing a revitalization in October 2020 following more revelations of the abuses of the unit, mass demonstrations occurred throughout the major cities of Nigeria, accompanied by vociferous outrage on twitter platform.

Background to the Study

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was created in Lagos State in 1992, a time when notorious armed robbers such as Shina Rambo were in control of the state (Midenda, 2017). It was created as a faceless police unit that performs undercover operations against armed robbers. Within almost two decades of  its  creation,  the  unit  has  spread  across the various states of  the country. The spread of the unit across the nation without a proper structure, accounts for some of it lawless characteristics.

The current report of police brutality using the #Endsars on Twitter has brought public attention to it. The online campaign about the police brutality is not new, however, Nigerian pop stars has over the years expressed their worries, fears and incidents of police brutality.

The Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood has also portrayed cases of brutality and corruption within the Nigerian police force in their productions. Nigerians having been  subjected  to wanton arrests, extortion and  extra  judiciary  killings,  lunched  a  social  media  campaign using the hastag #Endsars on Twitter to put an end to police brutality.

The #Endsars campaign started with the publication of a petition by  convener  Segun  Awosanya. It was signed by 10,195 Nigerians and submitted to the Nigerian National Assembly to scrap the police unit. The Twitter  campaign  started  on  the  2nd of  December  2017,  when  a footage of police officers attached to the unit shot and killed a man surfaced online. The campaign became a trending topic on Twitter  with  over  400,000  Tweets  within  twelve  hours.

In October 2020, Nigerians turned the online campaign to protest. Before the campaign, there have been isolated cases of police brutality all over the country. However, it was during the campaign that the damage caused by such brutality  was  discovered.  The campaign also exposed the level of rot within the police unit according to the convener of the campaign. The campaign further revealed that the police have no recognizable structure with no organized system of operation, officers of the unit act based on self-will with little or no regards for fundamental human right for citizens especially vulnerable youth.

This research work is not to justify massacre or killing but to bring out the stylistic features used in the comments on Twitter Platform by those who participate in the protest and online protesters.

On the night of 20 October 2020, at about 6:50 p.m, members of the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful End SARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos State, Nigeria. Amnesty International stated that at least 12 protesters were killed during the shooting. There have been complaints about missing persons and a few have been confirmed to be hospitalized and in critical condition. A day  after  the  incident,  on  the  21  October,  the  governor  of Lagos  State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, initially denied reports of any loss of lives, but later admitted in an interview with CNN that two persons were killed. The Nigerian Army whose officers were the principal actors in the shooting initially denied that the shooting ever happened and that none of its officers were ever at the toll gate, that the video footages of its officers shooting into the crowd were ‘photoshopped’. A week later, however, the Nigerian Army admitted that it had deployed soldiers to the toll gate on the orders of the governor of Lagos State. The governor tweeted the next day that “It is imperative to explain that no governor controls the rules of engagement of the army.” His tweet was taken to mean that he had not made any such orders.

On  Saturday  21st  November,  a  month  after   the  incident,   in   response  to   the  fallout   of a CNN documentary on the shooting, the Nigerian Army admitted to the Lagos Judiciary panel of inquiry into the shooting that it had deployed its officers to the toll gate with both live and blank bullets. It maintained that it had done so for the ‘protection of the force’ in case of any attack by hoodlums who had infiltrated the protests. This would the first time the Nigerian Army has admitted to having live rounds at the Lekki Toll Gate. The admissions nonetheless, the Nigerian Army continues to deny that its officers shot at and killed protesters.

Nigerian disc jockey DJ Switch, made a live stream video of the shooting on her Instagram account. Though many other eyewitness videos and footages surfaced in the aftermath of the shooting, the lives stream would prove to one of the decisive evidence of the shooting. The video catapulted her to nationwide fame. In a video she made on the 23 of October, she clarified that she witnessed the shooting of seven people at the time she was doing the live Instagram video. She said that armed soldiers and police officers shot at her and other peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate on the night of 20 October. Among them were officers of the disbanded SARS. She also said that the number of the dead increased to fifteen but that she did not get a chance to capture those as her phone battery had died. She also said at least 15 people were killed in the shootings and that she and other survivors took the victims’ bodies to the soldiers who took them away. She has since left the country for Canada following threats to her life.

On November 18, a month after the incident, CNN aired a six-minute documentary on the shooting. The independent investigation showed geolocated photographs of victims and eyewitness accounts as well as the families of victims alongside verified trended videos of the shooting using using timestamps and data from the video files. CNN said that Nigerian authorities refused them a response when contacted for clarifications. The documentary also revealed that in collaboration with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, CNN was able to establish that several of the bullets from the Lekki Toll Gate originated from Serbia from where Nigeria had imported bullets every year between 2005 and 2016. The documentary has given rise to another wave of outrage, this time mostly towards the Nigerian authorities’ changing narrative in the face of naked evidence. In its response, the Nigerian Army insists that its officers were ‘professional in their conduct’ and did not breach rules of engagement. Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, accused CNN of ‘irresponsible journalism’ and described the documentary of the product of fake news and disinformation.

On November 24, as part of its investigations into the shooting, CNN obtained and released CCTV footages from government surveillance cameras overlooking the toll gate presented to the Lagos Judiciary panel of inquiry investigating police brutality, the abuses of the disbanded SARS and the toll gate shooting. The CCTV footage and other footages from the scene at the time showed soldiers shooting at protesters. Corroborating a previous testimony given by the Lekki Concession Company to the panel, the footage stopped at about 8 pm because the CCTV had been tampered with ostensibly to provide cover for the shooting. Though yet to provide any counter evidence, Nigerian authorities continue to deny that soldiers shot at protesters.

Statement of Problem

After years of horror stories of brazen extortion, illegal detentions and gruesome murders at the hands of local police, young Nigerians are out on the streets to demand the government scrap the police’s notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit. Vabguard (2020).

The street protests have been triggered by the latest reports of murders of innocent civilians committed by SARS officers, who have long operated with impunity. While SARS was initially set up in 1992 to combat the rise of armed robbery incidents, it has since garnered a reputation for arbitrary arrests, torture, extortion and extra-judicial killings. Given its designation as a special unit with its officers often working in plain clothes and using unmarked cars, SARS officers have become known for crudely extorting innocent young Nigerians and operating outside the remits of law.

SARS officers typically target and detain young men by accusing them of being online fraudsters, simply on the evidence of owning a laptop or smartphone, and then request arbitrary and exorbitant bail fees before they regain their freedom. In more extreme cases, SARS officers abduct civilian targets and force them to make withdrawals at an ATM in exchange for their freedom, sometimes at gunpoint. The unit is also known to target young women as well with several reports of women being raped while in detention. Without obvious avenues to seek redress, most victims are forced to pay these bribes, particularly given SARS’ fearsome reputation of violence and extra-judicial killings. In 2016, an Amnesty International report found “credible allegations” that SARS operatives “perpetrate acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against detainees in their custody on a regular basis.” In a rare instance in September 2017, five SARS operatives were convicted of the extrajudicial killing two young men. But it’s not just the fear of violence and possible death, SARS operatives are also known to threaten victims with illegal detention. It’s a feature of Nigeria’s broken criminal justice system which sees 72.5% of inmates in local prisons serving time without being sentenced.

Objective of the Study

The main objective of the study is to investigate the Stylistic Analysis of Selected Comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter Platform. To aid the completion of the study; the researcher would intend to achieve the following specific objectives:

  1. To identify the stylistic features in the selected comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter
  2. To examine the types of intertextuality that can be identified in the comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter
  3. To investigate the common linguistic/stylistic features that are prevalent in the Comments On 2020 Lekki Massacre On Twitter Platform.
  4. To identify the implications of the selected comments in Nigerian political terrain; locally and
  5. To investigate the extend of Extra-Judicial Killings in Lagos and the Lekki Massacre

Research Questions


Based on the objectives of the study, the following research questions offer direction to the researcher in carrying out the study:

  1. What are the stylistic features of the selected comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter?
  2. What are the types of intertextuality in the comments on 2020 Lekkí Massacre on Twitter Platform?
  3. What are the most common linguistic/stylistic features that are prevalent in the Comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter Platform?
  4. What are the implications of the selected comments in Nigerian political terrain, locally and internationally?
  5. What is the extend of Extra-Judicial Killings in Lagos and the Lekki Massacre

Scope and Limitation of the Study

The study is to cover relevant areas as regarded the Stylistic Analysis of Selected Comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter Platform. The areas to be covered in this research are some Comments on October 20th, 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter Platform. The study is limited to Comments on October 20th, 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter Platform in Lagos state Nigeria

Significance of the Study


Although, there might have been a lot of works written on the Stylistic Analysis of Selected Comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter Platform but few have touched the importance of these Comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre. It is hoped that this work would be of immense help and guide any students writing on Comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre and Nigeria as a whole that there is a great need to rebuild our nation and empower youths. The outcome of this study would contribute to the existing body of knowledge. Because there is no single study on Lekki Massacre of Endsars protest in Nigeria polity especially in Lagos, there is dearth of evidence using data on Lagos state, Nigeria. The outcome of the study would therefore serve as a reference material for subsequent researchers and would provide a basis for further research in this area.


Qualitative research design will be used for this study. Qualitative research verbally describes or tells what is done or what has been done. It tells the story around events, occurrences and practices. As a form of qualitative methodology, secondary data will be used in this study to narrate relevant information related to the study.

Source of Data

Data to be use will comprise of twitter platform, online publications, journals, texts, library archives, journals, newspapers among others.

Method of Data Collection

The data for this study will be relevant extract from online articles, journals, textbooks, newspapers and so on to avoid unnecessary blabbering and to have genuine references for the study.

Method of Data Analysis

As pointed out in the above, this study will employ qualitative research design, hence, qualitative data analysis which is a process that seeks to reduce and make sense of vast amounts of information, often from different sources, so that impressions that shed light on a research question can emerge will be used in the analysis of this study. However, thematic network analysis approach which is one of the basic approaches of qualitative research design will be used. Thematic networks aim to explore the understanding of an issue or the signification of an idea, rather than to reconcile conflicting definitions of a problem. Applying thematic networks is simply a way of organizing a thematic analysis of qualitative data. Thematic analyses seek to unearth the themes salient in a text at different levels, and thematic networks aim to facilitate the structuring and depiction of these themes. For the purpose of this study however, relevant information are gleaned from comments on twitter platform, journals, online articles, newspaper reports, Magazines, intelligence report among others. Forty (40) comments would be pointed out for the analysis.

Population and Sample of the Study

In carrying out this research, 20 pieces of comments shall be drafted out from Comments on 2020 Lekki Massacre on Twitter Platform.

Operational Definition of Terms

  • Stylistics Analysis: In literary studies Stylistic analysis is usually made for the purpose of commenting on quality and meaning in a text. In linguistics, Stylistic analysis refers to the identification of patterns of usage in speech and
  • Lekki Massacre: This is the event that occurred in Lekki on the night of 20 October 2020, at about 6:50 p.m, members of the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful End SARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos State, Nigeria which led to the killing of at least 12 protesters during the
  • Twitter Platform: Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Registered users can post, like and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read



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