Protests In Nigeria Mirror Black Lives Matter Movement

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October 1, 2020 marked the 60th Independence Anniversary for Nigeria. The country had a lowkey celebration due to the negative impacts of the coronavirus ravaging countries all over the world. Little did Nigerians know that a lot more would unfold in October.

On the 8th of October, Nigerian youths took to the streets to protest after trending the hashtag #EndSars on Twitter. The protest, which started out as a call for the government to ban the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – a unit of the Nigerian Police Force known for oppression and brutality – has now plummeted into various cries, ranging from a call to the end of bad governance to end bad roads, end poor education, end unstable electricity, end poor health care, and end unlivable salaries and welfare in the country.

As of the 20th of October, the protest has lasted for 12 days and it is sad to say that the Nigerian government has taken no definite steps beyond changing the name SARS to SWAT, which is supposed to be a model of the US Special Weapons and Tactics Team. Nigerians argue that the change of name is not enough since the same brutal men have been left in the system.

No Longer Peaceful

The protest, which started off as a peaceful one, seems to have been hijacked by hoodlums in some areas of the country. In Benin, Edo State, inmates of the Oko Medium Security Centre were set free by alleged protesters, resulting in the declaration of a 24 hour curfew in the state. Also in the Yaba area of Lagos State, videos making rounds show vehicles and personnel of the RRS (Rapid Response Squad- the Lagos State Anti-Crime Outfit) being attacked by hoodlums. On Tuesday, the Lagos State Governor declared a 24hour curfew from 4pm after a police station in the Alagomeji area was burnt down by hoodlums.

Major roads in the country have been blocked since the protest started, including Alausa, Allen, Ikorodu, Magodo, Surulere, Lekki, Third Mainland bridge, Agodi, Iwo Road, Challenge, Gbagi, among others.

It is worthy to note that although there seems to be no face to the protest (no organized leadership), the protesters have achieved great feats within the last few days and they have even gone ahead to rub these feats in the faces of the government, stating that the Nigerian government would have claimed to have spent billions of Naira on some of the less than a million naira project embarked on by the #EndSars protesters.

Raising Money

The protesters are fed on a daily basis and they have water and drinks to go round in the protest areas. In some areas, camp tents are provided for overnight protesters. A striking act by the protesters is their contributions for the purchase of a prosthetic leg for one of the protesters who’s an amputee. @Aprokodoctor called on youths to contribute $1,300 (USD) towards this project but Nigerians would not stop even after over $10,000 (USD) had been raised.

As it is, Nigerians are obviously tired and are ready to give all it takes to see that their demands are met. On the other hand, the Nigerian government seems bent on frustrating the efforts of the youths by sending hoodlums to disrupt the peaceful protests, doing nothing about the incessant shootings and killings of innocent Nigerians even amidst the protests.

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Omolara Ajayi
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