COVID-19, #EndSARS, other events that shaped 2020

COVID-19 pandemic

By Taiwo Okanlawon

2020 was a busy and tough year on the world scene with seemingly unending events, ranging from COVID-19, #EndSARS protests, and other issues dominated the news.

As the year 2020 winds up in a few hours, PM News lists some of the events that shook the world in no particular order.

1. COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) broke out in Wuhan, China in 2019 and was confirmed by the World Health Organization. In a matter of months, the virus has spread across the globe killing more than 1.81 million people as cases of the deadly disease topped 82.8 million in total, while 46.8 million have also recovered.

Nigeria recorded its first case of Coronavirus on February 27th, 2020, after an Italian national, was confirmed positive, making it the third case in Africa after it was reported in Egypt and Algeria respectively.

The COVID-19 virus swept through continents leaving behind devastation, loss of jobs, deaths, and wide spread fear, causing major changes in world operations and also bringing about tears, pains, and sorrow.

Following the outbreak, various government’s of the world imposed lockdown as a means of trying to curb the spread of the virus.

The widespread of the virus in 2020 led to the closure of schools, market places, airports, social events, and total lockdown of the world for months. Since the pandemic got to its peak, the world has not remained the same again.

Following the outbreak, the usage of facemasks, hand gloves and sanitizers became the new normal.

2. Black Lives Matter protests

A woman with ‘BLM’ written on her cheek during a demonstration in Atlanta on May 31.Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images file

The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013, but the police-involved killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor reignited the movement and changed the way the nation talks about race.

What started as a poignant hashtag has come to define a generation, changing the very framework with which the nation talks about race through a wave of peaceful and sometimes violent protests and riots across the world to demand an end to police brutality and racial injustice.

More protests erupted in August when 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot by a Kenosha, Wisconsin, cop and paralyzed from the waist down.

3. #EndSARS protest

#EndSARS: Actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde at the Lekki toll plaza protesting

Just like BLM, Young Nigerians who make up a chunk of the country’s population, took to the streets across the country when yet another young man had been brutalized by police officers in Delta State.

The incident sparked nationwide protests that were first spearheaded by celebrities before they were seized on by an army of young Nigerians desperate for change but always been dismissed and derided for caring more about reality TV shows and football than they do about civics, governance and politics.

End SARS is a decentralised social movement and series of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria. The slogan calls for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuses.

Nigerian lawyer and activist, Segun Awosika also known as Segalink started the hashtag in 2017 and had hitherto been the face of the #EndSARS campaign on social media. But in October of 2020 however, young Nigerians revolted against entrenched injustice and a rigged political system in a way this nation has never quite seen before.

When the #EndSARS protesters took to the streets in early October and grounded the Nigerian economy for full measure, they were demanding not just for an end to decades of police brutality, but for a reset of the Nigerian state and better governance from the political elite, going forward.

But the peaceful rallies ended the night of October 20, after a Nigerian Army contingent allegedly opened fire at the unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll plaza. The incident attracted international condemnation and is under probe.

Riots erupted the next day as hoodlums looted or set fire to public and private properties.

The Nigerian government announced that the civil disorder, which lasted about a week, caused the death of 100 civilians and security operatives.

4. Lekki Toll Gate Shooting

Protesters at the Lekki tollgate during #EndSARS protest

On the night of 20 October 2020, at about 6:50 p.m, members of the Nigerian Army allegedly opened fire on peaceful End SARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos State.

According to Amnesty International, at least 12 protesters were killed during the shooting, it is said the number is definitely higher. 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 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 a CNN journalist that two persons were killed but were not related to Lekki incident.

The Nigerian Army initially denied that the shooting ever happened and that none of its personnel were present at the toll gate. A week later, however, the Nigerian Army admitted to an investigative panel in the presence of press, that it had deployed soldiers to the toll gate on the orders of the governor of Lagos State.

During a visit to the scene of the Lekki Toll Gate massacre, the panel found spent bullet shells. Also, on 30 November 2020, The Nigerian Army admitted that its soldiers were armed with live ammunition but the bullets used when they opened fire at the toll gate were blanks.

5. Beirut explosion

A massive explosion at a Beirut port, sparked Aug. 4 by the accidental detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, killed many and injured thousands of others.

More than 200 people died, with 6,500 injuries, and US$15billion in property damaged. About 300,000 were homeless.

6. Emeka Ihedioha vs Hope Uzodinma

Another event that shook Nigeria in 2020 was the removal of Emeka Ihedioha and the installation of Hope Uzodimma as the executive Governor of Imo State.

The event shook the political sphere and surprise many Nigerians judging by the result of the 2019 governorship election in the state which saw Uzodimma finish fourth.

A sub-plot of this particular situation was that a Catholic Rev. Father, Ejike Mbaka had foretold the event in one of his church programmes attended by the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate in Imo State, Uzodimma.

Then the Supreme Court on Tuesday 19th January 2020, declared Senator Hope Uzodinma, candidate of the ruling APC, as duly elected governor of Imo State.

It, therefore, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to withdraw the certificate of return from former Governor, Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and issue Uzodinma certificate of return as governor of the state.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun said the votes due to Uzodinma and APC from 318 polling units were wrongly excluded and should be added.

This controversial ruling by the apex court was followed by another one on the governorship election in Bayelsa State.

Many Nigerian were shocked as the Supreme Court followed the ruling on Imo election with very similar one, nullifying the victory of David Lyon as the governor-elect in Bayelsa State.

The apex court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili on Thursday, 13th February 2020, directed the INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the APC candidate who was earlier declared winners of the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the state.

The five-man panel ordered INEC to immediately issue fresh certificates to the candidates of the party with the next highest votes, being Douye Diri of the PDP and his Deputy.

Justice Ejembi Ekwo gave the ruling after disqualifying the APC deputy governorship candidate, Degi-Eremienyo, as a candidate in the election.

7. Chadwick ‘Black Panther’ Boseman’s death

American actor, producer, and director, Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing Black Panther role in the Marvel superhero franchise died at age 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

His death on August. 28 shocked fans across the globe, since he had completed several blockbuster films while keeping his diagnosis private.

Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer since 2016 but had not made the information public.

According to BBC, Boseman came to prominence playing real-life figures – baseball great Jackie Robinson in 2013’s 42, and soul singer James Brown in 2014’s Get on Up.

However, it will be as the titular Black Panther in the blockbuster 2018 film he will be best remembered.

Boseman stars as King T’Challa, the ruler of Wakanda, a fictional African nation with the most advanced technology on earth.

As well as winning critical praise and taking more than $1.3 billion US dollars (£973m) at cinemas worldwide, the film was widely seen as a cultural milestone for having a largely black cast and a black director, Ryan Coogler.

Boseman said last year that the film had changed what it means to be “young, gifted and black”.

Black Panther was the first superhero film to get a nomination for best picture at the Oscars.

He also played the same role in other Marvel films Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.

A sequel was in the works and due to come out in 2022, with Boseman set to return.

The news of his death came as a shock to many as Boseman never discussed his diagnosis publicly.

8. Adams Oshiomhole’s Removal

Another major political event that made waves in the Nigeria’s media was the removal of Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the ruling APC.

The Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee of the APC was dissolved on Thursday, 25th June, 2020 by an emergency National Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The decision was reached following the crisis that rocked the party resulting to flury of court cases amongst members which also led to the disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki to run on the party’s platform and subsequent decamp to the PDP.

Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, was appointed as Caretaker Committee chairman of the APC.

9. Joe Biden wins US presidential race

Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States on Nov. 7, defeating President Trump with a critical assist from his birth state, Pennsylvania, which delivered the votes to propel him to victory and end one of the most contentious elections in recent memory.

Biden, who contested the election on the Democratic Party platform defeated the incumbent President and candidate of the Republican Party, polling over 300 Electoral College votes.

Trump, backed by the majority of the leadership of his party had rejected the result and till date, has refused to acknowledge Biden as the winner, citing election fraud, allegations he has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt in as many courts he has gone to.

Biden will be sworn-in as the 46th President of the US on January 20, 2021.

10. Australian wildfires

Australia fires started in September 2019 and dragged on till March 2020. It was the most devastating wildfire seasons as it burned a record 47 million acres, displaced thousands of people and killed at least 34 people.

Millions of animals died and about 6,000 buildings, including 2,700 homes, were destroyed. More than 30 people were killed.

Regions of the state of New South Wales, eastern and north-eastern Victoria were severely affected.

The Australian military was deployed, while Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States, sent reinforcements.

An air tanker and two helicopters crashed during operations; three crew members died in the tanker. Similarly, three firefighters were killed when the inferno overwhelmed their trucks.

11. Air Mishaps

In January, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner.

All 176 passengers on the Flight 752 Kyiv-bound died. The incident occurred amid the tension with America over the death of General Soleimani.

Canada confirmed that 63 citizens were on board. Others were 82 Iranians, 10 Swedish, 4 Afghan, 3 German and 3 British nationals.

Also in January, a plane operated by Afghanistan’s state-owned airline Ariana crashed in the Ghazni province.

In May, a Pakistan International Airlines plane has went down in a residential area in Karachi.

More more than 100 people were onboard. Additional casualties on the ground were reported.

In September, a military transport plane, carrying Air Force cadets, crashed and burst into flames in Ukraine. At least 22 people were killed.

Furthermore, some aircraft conveying COVID-19 items crashed at different times.

12. Kobe Bryant’s death

The legendary Los Angeles Lakers player was killled along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26.

Bryant, 41, was travelling with his daughter and seven other passengers and crew when the Sikorsky S-76 slammed into a rugged hillside in thick fog in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles.

Also killed were John Altobelli, 56, longtime head coach of Southern California’s Orange Coast College baseball team; his wife, Keri; and daughter, Alyssa, who played on the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter; and Christina Mauser, a girls’ basketball coach at a Southern California elementary school.

Another young player, Payton Chester, was also killed in the crash along with her mother Sarah Chester.

13. Stock market crash 2020

The coronavirus pandemic triggered a global recession as numerous countries went into lockdown. The Dow Jones industrial average suffered its worst single-day point drop ever on March 9.

14. Football icon Diego Maradona’s death

Argentina soccer legend Diego Maradona, who died aged 60, succumbed to heart failure.

The Argentine Football Association confirmed Maradona’s death and posted a short message on its social media platforms.

“The Argentine Football Association, through its President Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts,” it tweeted.

He was ranked with Pelé among the best, and his ability to surprise and startle won over fans and even critics. But his excesses and addictions darkened his legacy.

Regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Maradona became a household name after inspiring his country to World Cup glory in 1986.

He took center stage at the tournament with a memorable performance against England where he scored an iconic goal that he later described as the “Hand of God.”

The diminutive forward out-jumped legendary keeper Peter Shilton and punched the ball into the net. Despite the obvious handball, the goal was allowed to stand because the referee did not see the foul.

Later in the game he scored one of the best goals in history after weaving his way past seven English defenders.
His glittering career was also marked by numerous controversies and his notorious lifestyle led to alcoholism and addiction.

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