For over two weeks now, Nigeria is rocked with ENDSARS protests. A hitherto well-intended cause against police brutality and the need to reform the Nigeria Police Force, which has turned rogue or perhaps hijacked by some ill-wishers whose motive is to bring chaos and anarchy. This protest could be said to be which has attracted attention beyond expectation as it has enjoyed support from some politicians, most especially Sen. ShehuSani, Sen. Ishaku Abbo among others, and global celebrities such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, US rapper Kanye West, gospel singer Kirk Franklin, footballers MesutOzil and Marcus Rashford and Nigerian superstars Davido, Burner Boy and Wizkid.
As the protest continued to generate reactions, the North too reinvigorates its call on the government concerning the operation of bandits in the North-West and BokoHaramin North-East which appears not to be attracting enough attention from government and Nigerians. States in the North like Kaduna and Kano respectively took to the streets and social media with the hashtags ‘North is bleeding’ ‘End Banditry’ ‘Save North’. To be particular, celebrities from the Kannywood industry are at the forefront alongside some personages.
Unarguably, the incidence of police brutality has been a long-existing phenomenon not only in Nigeria but the world over. We have seen some months back, demonstrations in the United States against police brutality with the hashtag ‘Black lives matter’. That has further given black folks anywhere in the world the impetus to resist oppression and dehumanizing treatment from those at the helm of affairs and their agents, and no time could have been more apt to address the issue in Nigeria than this. In the North too same case of police brutality cannot be denied, however, the problems threatening its existence cannot be reduced to SARS. In fact, in the North, many are oblivious to the existence of SARS because, they all are referred to as the police and this may be due to the fact that for 10 years, SARS only operated in Lagos, until 2002, when it spread to all 36 states of the federation as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Another factor may be the little or no presence of Yahoo-Yahoo boys which Lagos is notorious for, seasoned kidnappers like Kidnap Kingpin, ChukwudumemeOnwuamadikea.k.a Evanston mention but a few, as SARS’s mandate includes arrest, investigation, and prosecution of suspected armed robbers, murderers, kidnappers, hired assassins and suspected violent criminals.
These continued protests have opened an avenue for hoodlums to perpetrate all sorts of atrocities which includes: Vandalism of public establishments, institutions, agencies and parastatal, arson on banks, police stations, desecration of traditional institutions like the recent effrontery exhibited in the attacks of Oba Palace in Lagos where the sacred royal staff was carted away and onslaught on innocent individuals not to mention those unreported. In the wake of these, the imposition of curfew became necessary to check the excesses of the protesters or let me say the hoodlums.
If one is to look at these recent attacks on public and private property, one could perhaps link it to the supposed shootings by soldiers in Lekki, Lagos. There were allegations that the National Leader of All Progressive Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu ordered security soldiers to open fire on the protesters so as to show his unwavering loyalty to the President. An allegation which he had since denied and was quoted saying “I will never be part of any carnage, the use of live ammunition against protesters is totally condemnable”. “There is a limitation here; I can only control my personal guards”.
Vandalism of public and private property is not and is never the solution to the problem. Actually, it can only worsen the situation because, whatever is vandalized, it is the same public funds that will be taken from the national treasury for reparation, renovation, and reconstruction. Consequently, we are all at the receiving end. The monies aimed at some vital projects will have to be reversed. One shouldn’t let anger get the best out of him.
On the Address of President Muhammadu Buhari to #ENDSARS Protesters
Just as the ongoing demonstration continues to boil, it became urgent for President Muhammadu Buhari to make decisive action. Yesterday, 22nd October 2020. The president addressed the EndSARS protesters or in general Nigerians.
In his address, President Buhari noted the rights of citizens to peaceful and the need for security operatives to give them protection but, has not captured in his speech the recent shooting of protesters in Lekki, Lagos. An incident that shocked the world and was since greeted with condemnation. Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State said
“The United States strongly condemns incidents of military forces firing on unarmed protestors in Lagos. Those involved should be held to account under the law, “Pompeo tweeted. Others like a former presidential candidate, who was also a former American Secretary of States, Hilary Clinton followed suit.
However, in what appeared to be a retort in his address, President Buhari puts them where they belong. “To our neighbors in particular, and members of the international community, many of whom have expressed concern about the ongoing development in Nigeria, we thank you and urge you all to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgment and making hasty pronouncements.” Said Buhari.
The Conception of the President’s Speech in the North
In this address president, Muhammad Buhari addressed in particular ENDSARS protesters and Nigerians in general but, has not accorded any specification to the Protest in the North as claimed by Northerners and it is evident in his address. This makes Northerners feel like the president accords preference to the south than the North. This could be due to the expectation of reciprocation from the north on the president because, when it comes supporting the president, nowhere does it better than the north, when the president was bed-ridden, there were always prayers for his quick recovery from the North. When it comes to defending his integrity, nowhere does it better than the North. To further attest to the assertion, a few months ago, Buhari praise singer, Dauda Kahutu Rarara resolved to stop singing for the president until one thousand Naira from each Buhari’s supporters is paid. Within three days millions of Naira were generated and all this came from the North. Baba made it to his second tenure with the votes of the North. The North was of the belief and expectation that when PMB becomes president, there would flow rivers of honey and milk. Alas! the situation.
To be objective, the clamor for good government, police reform through peaceful protest is highly welcomed and encouraged, however, if it would be an avenue for criminal elements to perpetrate crime and criminality is something one should stand firmly against.
Indeed, the President might not have met the expectations of those who expect but, has touched crucial points that if addressed will further deteriorate things, which are the unity of Nigeria, the obligation of government in the protection of lives and property, warning that undermining national security will not be tolerated and the reassurance government has heard the voice of the protesters and is responding.
It is about time the government is let to execute the demands. Let the protests stop for now.
Mahmud Yahaya, Writes from Bauchi State University Gadau,
Faculty of Law.