October 20: The #EndSARS memorial, By Reuben Abati


The Police must aloof no longer re-open dilapidated wounds by intimidating, harassing and molesting anyone who chooses to remember, commemorate or focus on October 20, 2020. It is miles the responsibility of the police to manufacture certain that that protests are conducted peacefully and in an neat sort. Nigeria’s Inspector-Overall of Police must aloof name his males to affirm. Cushty #EndSARS anniversary.

“Credible intelligence on the disposal of the Characterize has printed clandestine plans by some youths, contributors or teams to embark on a recount on the present time in commemoration of 1-year anniversary of ENDSARS… In search for of the volatility of the predicament in the nation, and the breakdown of regulation and affirm which the planned recount could perchance well reason, the Lagos Disclose police Characterize sternly warns in opposition to any produce of recount… To forestall breakdown of regulation and affirm, the police will employ legitimate way interior their constitutional powers to suppress the planned recount. Therefore, fogeys and guardians are suggested to warn their kids in opposition to taking allotment in the planned recount. Folks or teams sponsoring such recount are moreover warned of their very dangle curiosity to desist from such unpatriotic conception or face the beefy weight or wrath of the regulation.” – Hakeem Odumosu, Commissioner of Police, Lagos Disclose.  

I read the foregoing quote with which this commentary is prefaced with a substantial quantity of amusement and fear: about how safety companies in Nigeria maintain lost the ability to be taught or expose the civility that their work requires. Nonetheless forward of that, the commentary, being the Lagos Disclose Police Characterize’s response to the conception by Civil Society Organisations to commemorate the principle-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, is written in preferrred Yoruba transliteration, what the boring Professor Dapo Adelugba veritably known as “Yorubanglish”. The utilization of English as a second language could perchance moreover be problematic, and indeed as has been argued variously, “The Empire Writes Back” and has been doing so in attention-grabbing techniques, setting up forms of English or “Englishes”. The rapid quote above is in a class of its dangle in that class. It strikes a chord in my memory of that normal local, Yoruba, antiphonal lyric: “Ko lo’mo kilo fo mo re o… oni a le.”

It is miles fabulous how in a up-to-the-minute, democratic dispensation, these in control of the levers of vitality consistently throw attend to the outmoded, monarchical ethos of dominance and authority. It is a mirrored image of how Nigeria has did now not modernise or educate its institutions and the quite absolute lack of enlightenment on the allotment of its personnel. Or could perchance well it be hypocrisy? Sycophancy? Or shocking search stupidity?  What makes it more unbiased is that it’s no longer preferrred the Lagos Police Characterize that has issued a identical risk with regard to the #EndSARS Memorial that is scheduled to be held tomorrow. There maintain been identical threats from the Osun and Oyo Disclose Police Commands, a mirrored image of the mood of Nigeria’s safety institution. Except for that their objection to the merely of the parents to recount is unlawful, condemnable and indefensible. We aver that there must aloof be no existing of stupidity on the allotment of the Police or any of the protection companies tomorrow as Nigerians defend to commemorate the tragic events of October 8 – 20, 2020, popularly identified because the #EndSARS protests.

The merely to recount is a constitutional merely interior the purview of Piece 38 of the 1999 Structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (merely to freedom of blueprint, sense of right and incorrect and religion); Piece 39 (merely to freedom of expression and the press); Piece 40 (merely to soundless meeting and association); Piece 41 (merely to freedom of circulation) and Piece 42 (merely to freedom from discrimination), all of that are tied to varied traditional rights in the 1999 Structure including the merely to the dignity of the human particular person in Piece 34. In IGP v. ANPP, the Court of Charm upheld the merely to recount as a merely guaranteed under the Structure of Nigeria “without looking out for or acquiring permission from anyone.” Extra, Nigeria is signatory to several global conventions which divulge the actual particular person’s merely to recount as a predominant pillar of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the responsibility of relate events to recognize the merely to recount and manufacture certain that that there could be now not any violation by third events.  The tall predicament that we face is that relate actors in Nigeria enact no longer continually recognize agreements or commitments, excluding it serves their very dangle slim, egocentric interests.  

Below Section II of the Fifth Schedule to the Nigerian Structure, public officers exclaim an oath of allegiance to the nation and to defend the Structure. Nonetheless they don’t. They act as if they are above the regulation. They disrespect the courts. They defend what facet of the authorized dispensation is handy for them, veritably cases, these aspects that grant them the lee-formula to punish and dehumanise any particular person or neighborhood that they prefer into consideration, of their very dangle reckoning, an enemy of the relate. As a outcome of systemic failure, the institutions and officials who breeze the engine room of the relate are the worst culprits. They play politics after they are speculated to be neutral. They misbehave beyond the margins of error. This then is my predicament with the habits of the Nigeria Police issuing threats that its males would “execute and maim” if anyone goes out tomorrow, October 20, to commemorate the #EndSARS disaster of October 2020. Must aloof the police even execute anyone, further-judicially or predicament unreasonable threats in the principle predicament? It is miles the responsibility of the police to present protection to every protester and facilitate the parents’s merely to recount. The Nigerian Police are described as regulation enforcement officers, and guests of the parents. When the same police institution breaks the regulation and turns into the parents’s enemy, an ironic source of agony and frustration, and indeed a infamous chief lawbreaker, it’s the very foundation of society itself that is shaken and compromised.

The military of younger Nigerians who trooped onto the streets between October 8 and 10, 2020 sought to blueprint attention to this, even supposing there maintain been regional variations. In the South, the Generation X and Z who led the protests focussed on the brutality of the Nigerian Police, elite corruption and irresponsibility, vitality abuse, and further-judicial killings by relate actors. Their counterparts in the North mentioned that they had no predicament with the habits of brutal policemen. About a others complained in regards to the imperfect governance that has made the North a killing topic and the hotbed of insecurity. All of them asked for Set off the opposite hand – the usual, unifying thread of the protests. It didn’t prefer prolonged forward of the conventional Nigerian element overtook the protests. In parts of the North, a marvelous-institution neighborhood of sponsored thugs finally joined the protests and attacked civil society activists. In the South, the protests maintain been moreover hijacked. Police clamped down on the protesters.  In the South, the protests later went out of hand, as #EndSARS degenerated into organised attacks on the properties of politicians, and the enterprise interests of innocent contributors, moderately quite so a lot of which maintain been both vandalised or razed down and the disclosing and looting of secret places and garages where politicians had hidden COVID-19 palliatives.  In an awfully infamous case in Lagos, a female lawmaker allegedly transformed palliatives supplied by the Nigerian relate into gift items to be disbursed sooner or later of a planned celebration! Lagos used to be the epicentre of the protests. 

Lekki Toll Gate used to be the positioning where many Nigerian youths gathered of their hundreds on a day-to-day basis. Matters got here to a head on October 20, 2020, when infantrymen from the 81 Division of the Nigeria Navy, Bonny Camp, Lagos, and a contingent of policemen, invaded the Lekki Toll Gate to disperse the protesters. There maintain been many variations of what precisely transpired on the Lekki Toll Gate, and moderately quite so a lot of blame games and denials.  Protesters claimed that the navy and the police fired dwell bullets at protesters, and plenty died or maintain been injured. Nothing has been more surreal.  

In response, after the storm, the Federal Authorities, thru the Nationwide Financial Council (NEC) directed that special panels of inquiry must aloof be space up across the nation, including the Federal Capital Territory, to worth into the causes and outcomes of the protests and manufacture appropriate strategies particularly with regard to compensation for identified and confirmed victims. While many of the states complied and space up panels of inquiry, the states of Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Jigawa, Yobe and Zamfara flatly refused to enact so. In complete, preferrred 29 states and the FCT constituted the panels and tried to study the reported cases of police brutality. No doubt, preferrred the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution in Lagos Disclose perceived to maintain made any serious effort. The eight-man panel led by Justice Doris Okuwobi regarded as about 230 petitions. The Okuwobi panel used to be given a period of six months to enact its work, nonetheless it absolutely used to be aloof sitting as of this week, having been granted further extension till October 19, and to this point, it has awarded over N400 million as damages to victims of police brutality.

The Lagos panel, and must aloof be just a few others, including Enugu and Ekiti, would appear to maintain confirmed a measure of dedication to the project. Various panels maintain been hampered a technique or the assorted, or they snappy ended their meetings. The panel in Taraba Disclose struggled to habits investigations nonetheless it absolutely complained about lack of funding. The panel in Imo relate awarded N770.9 million as compensation after pondering 145 petitions nonetheless there could be now not any evidence that anyone has got any produce of compensation. Ekiti relate has paid allotment of the compensation determined upon by the panel of inquiry; nonetheless it absolutely is but to pay the prominent balance as a outcome of what they name “paucity of funds.” The panel in Ondo Disclose recommend the fee of N755 million as compensation. As is the case in a lot of moderately quite so a lot of states, it’s a long way rarely definite if the relaxation has been paid. To this point, 28 states maintain to this point managed to total their assignments. Lagos Disclose submitted an intervening time document, and has now closed store.  

Whereas the Federal Authorities has taken the step of asking the states to space up judicial panels of inquiry, it’s a long way sophisticated, a year later to worth whether any astronomical growth has been made with the usual five demands of the protesters viz: (i) fast free up of all arrested protesters; (2) justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for his or her households; (3) Atmosphere up and unbiased physique to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all aspects of police misconduct (interior 10 days); (4) In line with the new Police Act, psychological evaluate and retraining (to be confirmed by an unbiased physique) of all disbanded SARS officers forward of they could maybe perchance moreover be redeployed and (5) Develop police wage so that they are adequately compensated for safeguarding lives and property of voters. The important thing inquiries to envision are: where are we, a year later? Has the relaxation changed?  I doubt if there could be anyone accessible who can resolution these two questions along side his or her beefy chest. The executive of the day promised to address the total five demands. Has it finished so? The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) used to be disbanded and renamed SWAT, its officials maintain been asked to document to Abuja for psychiatric evaluate, and redeployment. There’s now not any evidence of success in that regard.

The main predicament used to be the brutality of the police – their sadism and wickedness to the tax payers who retain them. After the #EndSARS protests, the wickedness of the police to the parents merely went a notch greater. They’ve no longer stopped killing folks indiscriminately nor maintain they stopped extorting the parents. Even the language of oppression that they keep up a correspondence has no longer changed. It is miles as if Nigerian policemen are on a revenge mission in opposition to the parents they are expected to present protection to. The #EndSARS protesters asked for manufacture greater in police wage. Some noise has been made in regards to the settle on to toughen the welfare of policemen, and indeed here’s necessary. Nigerian policemen are as extraordinary victims of the way because the same folks who recount in opposition to them. #EndSARS used to be symbolically about a lot that is irascible in our society, including the dehumanisation of policemen. A lot of them lost their lives. Police stations maintain been burnt down. There are hundreds of police kids and better halves accessible whose breadwinners died sooner or later of the #EndSARS protests. Now not all policemen are foul and unkind, indeed many of direction empathised with the protesters in October 2020, an indication of the advanced nature of that tournament. In matters such as this, on the opposite hand, the lines are never so definite lower. There are comely and imperfect police officers merely as there are comely and imperfect voters. In October 2020, we noticed all of that on existing.

With out making excuses for anyone, the #EndSARS looks more be pleased the boiling over of the Nigerian disaster. The villain is the Nigerian relate itself and its imperfect managers, who enact no longer care sufficient about considerations of justice, equity and accountability. While openly, the executive claimed that it used to be engaged on attempting to assign the actual fact and compensate victims, the same executive and its officials consistently lied in regards to the principle points of what transpired: who ordered the troops to Lekki Toll Gate? Did the infantrymen employ dwell bullets? Did anyone die? How in regards to the contributors who maintain been reportedly taken to hospitals or contributors who jumped into the Lagoon? Who invited the navy into what used to be a civil incident? Lets never ever know the actual fact about these matters, and that is the vogue Nigeria is. And it’s a long way why Nigeria has have confidence and accountability considerations and the gap between the parents and these they maintain elected to lead them continues to widen.  

Three hundred and sixty five days after, it’s a long way suitable to remember the historical previous, heroism and drama of October 2020. The heroes are the kids of Nigeria, the civil society teams and celebrities, who stood up for the actual fact, folks that dared to speak No to injustice and brutality and the cruelty of the Nigerian Police. The villains are these brokers of the relate who fought and brutalised the protesters, the rent-a-crowd charlatans who sought to interchange the memoir and the relate itself that supported a police drive that behaves badly. The heroes are the members of the Feminist Coalition and the local and global brokers who sustained the recount with money, meals, drinks and leisure to retain the tempo alive. The villains are the charlatans who, even while executive made conciliatory noises, demonstrated by their habits, the injurious hypocrisy of the relate, by engaging #EndSARS protesters and their financial institution accounts. Many #EndSARS activists fled in a single other nation and maintain no longer returned. These that stayed in the attend of maintain been told that they can no longer actually maintain a memorial symposium or any tournament otherwise they’ll face the beefy wrath of the regulation. And naturally, there could be that varied crowd of junior Judases who betrayed their colleagues by colluding with the relate.      

The Police must aloof no longer re-open dilapidated wounds by intimidating, harassing and molesting anyone who chooses to remember, commemorate or focus on October 20, 2020. It is miles the responsibility of the police to manufacture certain that that protests are conducted peacefully and in an neat sort. Nigeria’s Inspector-Overall of Police must aloof name his males to affirm. Cushty #EndSARS anniversary.

Reuben Abati, a former presidential spokesperson, writes from Lagos.

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