The recent, largely peaceful #EndSARS protests across several Nigerian cities against police brutality has inadvertently revealed the country’s several visceral sores, consequent to the violence that later marred the well-intentioned agitations, following the hijack of the protests by hoodlums.
In response to the shrill calls for the reformation of its rankly villainous police force, the federal government directed the 36 states of the federation, including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to set up judicial panels of Inquiry to investigate the instances of police infractions on the rights of Nigerians and make recommendations on the way forward.
However, commendable as government’s efforts at reforms are, its recent resort to the haranguing and harassment of some of the supposed arrowheads of the protests and their associates threatens to scupper all its well-intentioned efforts, which had won it some form of goodwill within and outside the shores of the country. Instances of attempts by state authorities to clampdown on #EndSARS protesters include:
• The reported shooting of unarmed protesters by Nigerian security forces at the Lekki Toll gate, Lagos, which allegedly resulted in some deaths and injuries.
• The reported confiscation of the international passport of Modupe Odele, an #EndSARS advocate, by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
• An Abuja Federal High Court’s assent to a request by the country’s apex financial regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to freeze the accounts of 19 #EndSARS protesters and Gatefield Nigeria Limited for 180 days, pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN; and
• Other attempts by Nigerian authorities to stem the voices of dissent in the country, especially those of the country’s youths who rose up against the highhandedness of a beastly police force with a god complex.
Here is calling on Nigerian authorities to stop its ongoing onslaught against perceived arrowheads of the #EndSARS protests and their associates and focus on its ongoing efforts at reforming its rotten police force. Resorting to strong arm measures will not only expose it as a vengeful government, it could also inadvertently lead to worst case scenarios such as:
• Deepen the acrimony in government-citizen relations in the country, making it unlikely for the people to trust future agreements between them and government.
• Expose the government as being vengeful and averse to dissenting voices, unwilling to engender reforms.
• Drive the protesters underground, and possibly transform the movement for police reforms into a violent uprising.
• Attract further international opprobrium against the country, which could result in the slamming of sanctions on the government or its officials.
The agenda of the Nigerian Government, following the can of worms in not only the police force, but the entire political system, exposed by the #EndSARs protests and its aftermath, should be to work towards engendering a process of national reconciliation and healing.
Nigerian authorities should direct more efforts towards addressing all the issues revealed by the events of the last few weeks, rather than harassing the advocates of reforms. The political establishment should not be seeking vengeance against SMALL BOYS for perceived insults! A wise, responsible father sometimes swallows the exuberance of his children for peace to reign.
God Save Nigeria!