Nigeria has dropped by days of nationwide protests over police brutality following widespread claims of kidnapping, harassment, and extortion by a controversial police unit known as Special Anti-robbery Squad. The United States on Thursday condemned the excessive use of force by the Nigerian military on unarmed protestors. Councilor of the US Department of State met with Nigerian Vice President Abuja to raise the US’s concern about the ongoing violence. According to amnesty international at least people, were killed by Nigerian forces in a brutal crackdown on protestors on Tuesday. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, in a statement, has asked for an immediate investigation of the horrific violence. Meanwhile, Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari on Thursday called on protestors to stop demonstrating and engage with the government to resolve the conflicts. During his address to the nation, Buhari also called on the international community who expressed their concern over Tuesday’s brutal crackdown to know all the facts.
“I, therefore, call on our youth to discontinue the street protest and constructively engage the government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear, and we are responding.” -Muhammad Buhari, Nigerian President.
Gunshots were fired and smoke was seen blowing from a prison in central Lagos as fresh unrest rock Nigeria’s biggest city after the shooting of protestors. At least 56 people have died during the two weeks of widespread demonstration. In the last couple of days, the protests in Nigeria have taken a violent turn. On Wednesday, mobs vandalized and burnt police stations, courthouses, TV stations, all in response bro the brutal crackdown. The hashtag #EndSARS protest began amid calls for Nigeria’s government to close the police special anti-robbery Squad know as SARS but it has now become a much wider demand for better governance in Nigeria. There have been calls by the government to hold talks to resolve the conflict but the protest still has taken such a violent turn. On the daily show with Trevor Noah, Noah drew a beautiful comparison to show how police are abusing the power.
He said that this issue is not unique in the US, pointing out that whether it’s American police targeting black Americans or Nigerian police targeting other Nigerians, police in many countries around the world know that they can abuse their power without ramifications and reason they do, according to Noah is that police knew the people they harass don’t have the power to respond. But after years of police brutality, this movement is a witness that Nigerians have responded. They have taken to the streets over the last few weeks to say enough to enough. But as police’s response to all these protests has been very familiar. The police have been responded to police brutality with more police brutality.
Nigeria has been rocked by days of nationwide protests over police brutality. Originally the protest started peacefully, thousands of people have been calling for an end to years of police brutality which mainly for the special unit SARS who have been accused of carrying out such acts of extrajudicial killings, extortion, armed robbery, rape and etc. This is what started the movement peaceful, the government even at some point had to scrap the unit and replace it with another one, the special weapons, and tactical unit. But the people are insisting that even in the midst of the protest they are still witnessing pockets of police brutality and have refused to leave the streets. Protestors continue their call and demand for the protest and even increased their demand for justice.
That’s in insisting that the government prosecute rogue officers compensate victims of police brutality and of course reform the entire police by improving their welfare and all of that but we know that at some point the protest began to affect citizens and the government came out to say that look, what they are asking for would take time, they needed to stop the protest and then all of sudden, thugs began to hijack the protest. We are not sure who exactly sponsored the thugs to take over the protest and we are seeing pockets of violence, which has only escalated. On Tuesday, in fact, that was the time of the escalation of violence where thousands of protestors were at a tool gate called Lekki area in Lagos State and we got social media videos revealing hie that men in military uniforms opened live ammunition at the protestors killing at least 12 in Lekki and many others.
We have just witnessed the protest snowball into not just demand for anti-police brutality, some people are beginning to ask for better governance, better accountability, and all of that but the government has said that the protest at that point is beginning to have some kind of political interference undertone from political sponsors wanting to hijack the country and this administration, that’s the position of the government and so protestors are having to back down from such calls and just stick to what originally started the agitations in the first place which is the anti-police brutality. But a lot of states and state governments have had to impose a curfew on their states to try to maintain law and order. So, the protest we are beginning to see is reducing to a large extent especially in those violent prone areas like Lagos State, Abuja, and a couple of others.
There is now pressure from the United States, from United Nations, and quite a number of international agencies, foreign governments on the Nigerian government to investigate these acts of the violence that escalated especially on Tuesday up until now but a statement from Nigeria’s president when he had a live broadcast to the nation, it was a bit sad for many that he didn’t mention specifically the killings at Lekki tollgate but he reiterated the fact that police brutality is something that the government was going to pay attention to. for now, he has asked for the protestors to stop the protest his asked for calm by thugs, and also has said that foreign governments should get their facts right before they make any form of declaration about what is going on in Nigeria as this is the position of things that has been said. The protests have now become about a much wider demand for better governance.