Socialist Worker

Protesters return to the streets in Nigeria despite waves of state repression

by Lai Brown of the Socialist Workers & Youth League
Issue No. 2730

Protest in London last month showing solidarity with the Nigerian revolt

Protest in London last month showing solidarity with the Nigerian revolt (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The revolt against police violence and state repression continues in Nigeria.

Last month the government sent soldiers firing live ammunition to massacre protesters in the capital, Lagos. It followed a sustained movement against police brutality.

Afterwards the government was able to clear organised demonstrations off the streets. But other groups—including large numbers of unemployed people—occupied the streets.

Properties and facilities belonging to bosses perceived to be complicit in the state attacks were attacked by rampaging youth.

The lifting of curfews that followed the killings has seen calls for a return to organised protests. But they have been met with harsh treatment.

Recently activists demonstrated in the capital, Abuja. There were at least four arrests.

A protest was called in Lagos for Saturday. The right to peaceful protest is part of Nigeria’s constitution. But Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the Lagos police spokesperson, said no protests will be allowed in the state.

People gathered anyway but were violently dispersed by police.

Organisers

The government also obtained a court order to freeze the bank accounts of some protesters and organisers. And there has been a new wave of seizures and arrests of activists.

The department of state security has seized the passports of organisers and people involved in protests. This is being done without any court order.

The government is also launching a crackdown with a social media bill. This would enable them to shut down any platform regarded as a threat to the exploitation and oppression of working class people by the government.

But more protests are set for next week.

Revolt in Nigeria continues after massacre of protesters
Revolt in Nigeria continues after massacre of protesters
  Read More

Immediately after the October shootings, the Nigeria Army denied any involvement in the killing.

But soon the Lagos state governor affirmed that Nigeria Army personnel carried out the killing.

Nigerian working class youth were not expecting to be shot at while demanding good governance. A protester that was shot at said, “For days we are protesting peacefully, calling for an end to police brutality but then they came at us with the same brutality.”

In the last two weeks, the Nigerian government has issued a series of lies and propaganda to either bury the truth or distract people from it.

However, judicial panels of inquiry set up in some states have commenced hearings and over 500 cases of police brutality have been lodged by victims.

People are fighting in the first instance the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). This is an elite unit of the Nigerian police that is infamous for carrying out killings and torture.

Issues

But beginning with #EndSARS, the movement has raised other issues.

In the days after the shooting many revelations came to light, including tones of Covid-19 relief materials that were hidden away from the poor in warehouses across the country. These materials were meant to be shared to people during the lockdown period.

Unashamedly the Nigeria government announced that “hoodlums” are looting the warehouses.

In fact the vagabonds in power (VIPs) who kept relief materials away in the period of humanitarian crisis are the original looters.

None of the bosses directly connected to the hidden relief materials have been arrested or prosecuted.

Meanwhile, about a thousand youth have been arrested and deemed looters, although many were not involved in taking any relief material.

There are also reports of the Nigerian army killing people in the Oyingbo community of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Nigeria’s bosses and the government are determined to avoid a mass return of protesters on the streets. They seek to divide the opposition by pushing ethnic divides and claiming that the protesters are from particular ethnic groups. This is false.

The masses in Nigeria have demonstrated their readiness to stand up against oppression and fight to end all forms of injustice. The regime’s actions show that this struggle must continue.

The fight to end dictatorship and the corrupt rule of a few is an idea whose time has come.

For more on the Socialist Workers & Youth League go here

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