Last week, Nigerians woke up to the news of the second wave of #EndSARS protests in some parts of the country, notably Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, and a few others.
This was largely fuelled by the government’s ill-advised clampdown on sponsors of the protest coupled with the failure to meet any of the 5-point demands made by the protesters almost two months after.
But this time, the government was quick and hard in its response as security agents dispersed the protesters preventing them from garnering momentum like the first wave.
This was followed with a strong warning from President Muhammadu Buhari who stressed that any act of hooliganism perpetrated in the guise of protests will be decisively dealt with.
The Nigerian leader “warned that any act of hooliganism hiding behind lawful and peaceful protests will be dealt with decisively to ensure peace and stability in the country.”
Whereas the authority might have succeeded in quelling the noise around the nationwide #EndSARS protest and its attendant crisis and destruction of lives and property that gutted the nation but the truth is, the smoke raised as a result of the two-week boiling experience is yet to settle and may not settle anytime soon unless the kernel of the agitation is properly addressed.
Further worsening the matter is the ill-advised clampdown by the federal government on the people alleged to have participated directly or indirectly in the two-week-long protest, with many having to flee the country on asylum while those that are yet to escape have now become fugitives in their own country as they are being hunted everywhere by the secret service.
It is unfortunate that since the abatement of the #EndSARS protests the government has been unlawfully arresting, torturing, and detaining some #EndSARS protesters and promoters.
This, obviously, is not the best approach to assuage the anger of overly agitating youths in a nation boiling with rage.
The callous and vicious shooting of the young peaceful protesters by men of the Nigerian army at Lekki toll gate also flipped open what is about the saddest episode in Nigeria’s social justice history.
Nian disc jockey DJ Switch made a live stream video of the shooting on her Instagram account. Though many other eyewitness videos and footage surfaced in the aftermath of the shooting, the live stream would prove to be one of being decisive evidence of the shooting. The video catapulted her to nationwide fame.
In a video she made on the 23 of October, she clarified that she witnessed the shooting of seven people at the time she was doing the live Instagram video. She said that armed soldiers and police officers shoot at peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate on the night of 20 October.
Among them were officers of the disbanded SARS. She also said that the number of the dead increased to fifteen but that she did not get a chance to capture those as her phone battery had died. She also said at least 15 people were killed in the shootings and that she and other survivors took the victims’ bodies to the soldiers who took them away.
While DJ Switch may have been lucky to have since fled the country to seek asylum in Canada following threats to her life, many others in her shoes were not as lucky.
The massive clampdown on promoters of #EndSARS protests by the Nigerian Government began with the seizure of international passports of some of the protesters with the aim of preventing them from leaving the country.
The Nigeria Immigration Service had in October prevented a promoter of the #EndSARS movement, Modupe Odele, from traveling.
This was immediately followed by the freezing of their bank accounts. Some #EndSARS promoters, who spoke on condition of anonymity with Nigerian Pilot, due to threats to their lives said their banks informed them that the Central Bank of Nigeria had directed that their accounts be frozen.
According to reports, the CBN had instructed the banks to place a ‘ Post No Debit’ restriction on the accounts. The banks, it was learned, were able to implement the directive by tracking the ‘ narration’ of transactions.
Bank transactions that included the narration # EndSARS or End SARS were immediately flagged while such accounts receiving funds were frozen.
Speaking to Nigerian Pilot, a banker, Adeyemi Olayiwola (Names has been changed), who was one of the founders of the protest in Lagos said he decided to donate to the protest because he had solidarity with course the protesters were fighting for having been a victim of SARS brutality before and as a result of that, his account with Zenith Bank marked 225097XXXX had remained frozen since October 15.
According to him, when he learned of the development, he called one of his colleagues in the office who hinted to him that he should go into hiding as security surveillance has been placed on his movement.
Olayiwola said, ” My life is now in danger as I could no longer go to the office or move publicly due to harassment by security agents.
” I decided to donate to the funding of the protest because I believe in the course of the protesters. I and a member of my family have once been victims of police brutality in Lagos and I have also lost a friend in SARS detention.”
Another # EndSARS protester told one of our correspondents that she had not been able to access her account and had been informed that it was frozen. She, however, wished to remain anonymous for fear of being victimized by the government.
Similarly, a report by an online news medium also listed ten names of #EndSARS promoters whose bank accounts have been frozen by the Nigerian government.
According to the report, the young Nigerians who participated in the #EndSARS protest against police brutality and extortion in the country have their accounts frozen by the Central Bank of Nigeria after the apex bank got the nod from a Federal High Court in Abuja to freeze the accounts of 19 individuals and a public affairs company linked to the protests till January 2021.
The request which was filed by the CBN on October 20, was granted by Justice Ahmed Mohammed on November 6.
The affected individuals were said to have been used by the protesters to either solicit for funds or actually received funds to support the protest.
The court order, which was addressed to the head offices of Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank of Africa, and Zenith Bank, directed the banks to freeze all transactions on the 20 accounts on the list.
Some of these #EndSARS promoters listed by the medium included:
Bolatito Rachael Oduala
￼Bolatito Rachael Oduola was one of the major figures in the EndSARS protest and played a key role in it. The Lagos State-born Oduola who is popularly known as Rinu was one of the coordinators of the protest in Lagos and made sure it was very successful.
Rinu, a graduate of Chemistry Education from the Lagos State University, is an entrepreneur who runs an outfit called Rinu Retails.
During the protest, she was very vocal and was one of those who addressed the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, where the popular phrase, ‘Soro Soke’ was coined.
Gatefield Nigeria Limited
￼Gatefield Nigeria Ltd. got the hammer from the CBN because it raised funds to support independent Nigerian journalists who covered the nationwide EndSARS demonstrations that lasted over two weeks.
The public affairs company which is run by Adewunmi Emoruwa, reportedly raised the sum of N100m to support journalists during the protest.
It was not only in support of the protest but helped to mobilize and solicit funds from international donors as well as Nigerian corporations to support the protesters.
Before the CBN’s order, Gatefield had sued Access Bank Plc for allegedly blocking an account used to promote media coverage of the protests against police brutality in the country.
The company had contended that the blocking of the account was illegal and demanded damages of N100m from the bank.
The CEO and lead strategist at Gatefield Nigeria Limited, Emoruwa, is a young Nigerian who has had a successful run in communications, public relations, and public affairs across Africa, Europe, and North America.
His expertise includes legislative and issues-based advocacy, strategic communications, crisis and reputation management, political campaigns, policy analysis, and design. He once served as a Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Health.
Sa’adat Temitope Bibi
￼The Ilorin, Kwara State-born Sa’dat Temitope Bibi may be from a privileged background with a father who is a top politician in the state but her passion for the downtrodden made her join up with other Nigerian youths during the EndSARS protest.
Bibi, as she is fondly called, is a luxury Vlogger, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle blogger and the CEO of Eight30Media, a beauty and lifestyle brand.
She also runs the SAAB Foundation, an outfit she uses to campaign against molestation, girl-child mutilation, and every form of abuse against women and rape.
She is a Mass Communication graduate of Al-Hikmah University, and a one-time contestant at the Miss Nigeria International and Mr. and Miss Nigeria International pageants.
Without any doubt, the blackened chapter of￼the EndSARS protest in Nigeria should serve as a wake-up call to all political leaders that danger lies ahead if the government continues to tow the path of forceful exertion of power and authority on citizens as against mutual engagements.
Corroborating this view is a renowned public affairs analyst and commentator, Sonnie Ekwowusi, who described the clampdown on EndSARS protesters as ill-advised and ill-timed.
Ekwowusi argued that the clampdown could provoke the youths to stage another round of protests when we are yet to recover from the damaging effects of the last spate of protests yet the government is not softening the ground for peace to reign.
According to him, this is the time to sheath the sword and give peace a chance but unfortunately instead of giving peace a chance the government is persecuting the #EndSARS promoters and protesters.
He said, “During the #EndSARS protests, the government pleaded with the protesters to end the protests on the mutual understanding that it would meet all the demands of the protesters. The ‘five-point’ demand includes the immediate release of all protesters arrested, justice for all deceased victims of police brutality, psychological evaluation of all security officers, setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation of all reports of police misconduct, and the increase of the salaries of police officers so that they are adequately compensated for their jobs.
“But instead of fulfilling its own part of the understanding with #EndSARS protesters, the government is now resorting to arresting some #EndSARS promoters, confiscating their passports, and freezing their bank accounts.
“To avert further loss of human lives, arson, property damage, looting, brigandage, and stealing, the government should please bury the hatchet. Nothing is gained by bearing grudges. Nothing is gained by revenging against the #EndSARS protesters. After all, they are our children. So, rather than wage war against our children, the government should, in the forthcoming weeks, work out packages, scholarships schemes, and others that would help the Nigerian young to grow up physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, socially in a healthy environment and in conditions of freedom and dignity. This is the only way the government can nurture the future leaders of tomorrow.
“The truth of the matter is that young people in this country, or, those in the age bracket of, say, 18 to 45 who technically could be categorized as the younger generation, are angry, perhaps more now than before, over the way they are constantly being shortchanged.
“They are angry about the degenerating country’s politics; about the increasing youth unemployment; about the failed education system, in short, about everything. The paradox is that the Nigerian young constitute the bulk of our population, yet they are completely marginalized in the scheme of things. Therefore it is suicidal to keep on shortchanging the young people, the leaders of tomorrow. Instead of shortchanging them, the government should be concerned about the uncountable number of youth roaming the streets. Idleness breeds violence, immorality, criminality, and other vices. Unless something is done urgently to stem the tide of youth unemployment we may be heading for a final showdown.
“Unfortunately the apparent solution seems to lie in the scandalizing number of Nigerian young queuing up at the country’s airports to flee the country in order to seek succor in Ghana, Togo, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, name them. These fleeing youngsters are unhappy to be forcibly uprooted from their fatherland,” he posted.
In the final analysis, the truth is Nigeria is not prepared for another round of crisis in the mold of the EndSARS mayhem or civil war. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the government at all levels and tiers to sincerely address the level of injustice, human rights abuses, and oppression in the land that is presently forcing teeming Nigerians to leave their fatherland.
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Ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has explained that the reason security operatives cordoned off its national secretariat also known as Buhari House on Monday was a proactive measure to forestall a breach of law and order.