“Police, Protest Power and Nigeria’s Young Democrats” is a thoughtful appraisal for Chatham House by Leena Koni Hoffmann of the protests under way in Nigeria.
She says “A rushed rebranding of SARS or redeployment of its personnel will not meet any standards of accountability – there must be a full reckoning with the past and a sharp bend towards justice….”that “ the UK and EU – should put in place visa and financial restrictions on any public official whose orders or actions perpetuate police abuse… and that “The question now is whether the Nigerian government is prepared to engage with such a switched-on, rights-conscious and active citizenry. Nigerians and the rest of the world are watching how President Buhari handles this moment.”
What the report doesn’t spell out is the failure to uphold the rule of law, the failure to protect at risk communities (especially in the north of the country), the culture of impunity, and the promotion of a sectarian ideology based on violence -all of which has disfigured one of Africa’s great countries. The failure to combat this ideology has made it a fertile ground for the recruiting sergeants of organisations like Boko Haram and further discredited a Government which has been content to watch the slaughter, adduction and rape of its own citizens. Nigeria and its wonderful people deserve so much better than this.
Police, Protest Power, and Nigeria’s Young Democrats
By Leena Koni Hoffmann
Nigeria’s youngest citizens are demanding their elected government treat them with dignity and protect their constitutional rights and democratic freedoms of expression, association and assembly, both online and on the streets. President Muhammadu Buhari, a self-proclaimed convert to democratic principles, is facing the most serious test of this conversion.
The #ENDSARS social movement, which has its origins online in 2017, has reignited following reports of the shooting of an unarmed young man by members of Nigeria police’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). But peaceful demonstrations against police brutality have been cracked down on with live ammunition by the very same public officials accused of gross heavy handedness.
It is reported that at least 10 people have been killed by police officers since the start of the protests, with dozens arrested and injured. This comes on top of 82 cases of police abuse by SARS documented by Amnesty International between January 2017 and May 2020, including beatings, mock executions, disappearing citizens, waterboarding and sexual violence.