ENDSARS PROTEST: THE ANGUISH AND RAGE OF A PEOPLE
By Ubaka Okofu
“ Poverty is the parent of revolution and crimes” ( Aristotle, (384-322 BC)).
Officially, Nigeria is not at war, but the present chaotic state of the nation will leave no one in doubt that the country is indeed at war with itself. Even before the ENDSARS protest and the subsequent shooting and killing of protesting youths wielding the nation’s flag of green, white green as their only weapon of defence, the insurgency and banditry in the northern part of the country had clearly placed the most populous black nation in a group of globally recognized war-ridden countries and one of the most dangerous places to do business.
Penultimate week, youths in the country took to the streets of major cities to protest what they had considered as police brutality. In their experience, they were being confronted with a situation in which a special department of the Nigeria police had been ostensibly empowered by the Inspector General of Police to arrest, detain, shoot at, and kill Nigerians at will. Expectedly, there were tantrums against the cruel modus operandi of this special police unit. But whoever was in charge at the police headquarters paid deaf ears to the cries and pleas of parents whose children were mostly victims of the notoriety of these men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, (SARS).
Lagos, Edo, Delta, Rivers, and all the states in the eastern region of the country had full doses of the atrocities of the men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, ( SARS). The targets of this special unit of the Nigeria Police were stylish or polished young boys classified as internet fraud stars or yahoo boys. Their expensive dress codes and the exotic cars they drive in always held them out as suspects. The callous angle to the operation of SARS had to do with their penchant for extortion and the summary execution of those who refused to yield to their demands. Reports have it that they demanded as much as between N100,000 and N500,000 depending on their mood and the market value of their victim’s car. A horde of young and promising Nigerians had lost their lives at the hands of the obnoxious and vicious men of SARS.
Those who are alive among the genuine protesters had since gone home to their parents with bullet wounds and frightening memories of the Lekki shootings. Yet, the effects of the ENDSARS protest are still being felt, and will remain so for a long time to come. Perhaps, it might fade away after a new Nigeria is born.
One of the effects of the ENDSARS protest is the eruption of spontaneous protests by Nigerians in the diaspora. The world, especially the blacks in America are standing up in solidarity with the Nigeria youths. Beyonce, Rihanna and Alicia Keys have led other international musicians the world over who have condemned the killing of peaceful protesters by the Nigerian authorities. Currently, pressure is being mounted on the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to freeze bank accounts of top Nigerian politicians in the United Kingdom believed to be key players in the Buhari-led government of the All Progressives Congress, (APC).
Days after the shocking termination of the protest by the suspected military personnel in Lekki, the mainland area of Lagos and other major cities of the country have been engulfed in destruction and looting of various forms. The unfortunate dimension to this strange form of mass action is that the security agents, especially the blood thirty military had looked on while hoodlums loot unrestrainedly. This has shown that the objectives of the protesting youths before the Lekki shooting of Tuesday, October 20th were clearly different from those who had taken over the streets looting, burning and maiming.
Another positive effect of the protest is the attack on various warehouses where Covid-19 palliatives were believed to have been hidden by the APC-led government. Scores of such warehouses have been broken into, and their contents emptied while security agents looked on. Homes of a few politicians had also not been spared. In Calabar and Lagos alone, the homes of two sitting Senators were broken into, and looted by these hoodlums.
There is a multiple dimension to the breaking of warehouses were Covid-19 palliatives were hidden. First is that the leaders of this country are without compassion for the led. The only explanation why those food items and other palliatives were hidden in those warehouses is ineptitude! It beats one’s imagination that those in government could be callous to, as well as remain insensitive to the plight of the people who voted them into office.
On the flip side, it has also shown that the hunger and anguish in the land are unimaginable, and if nothing urgent was done to douse the situation and improve on the present indices of the nation’s economy, what is Nigeria today, could in the nearest future be more severely challenged than is being witnessed today, complete with all of the implications of this for the country we know today
Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu