By Omotoye Olorode & Jaye Gaskia
IT is two years to the date now when the Nigerian ruling class, under the leadership of the current regime drowned the justifiable anger and life transforming protests of Nigeria’s youth and young in blood at Lekki Toll Plaza.
Nigerians from all walks of life galvanized by the youth had launched and waged a two-week struggle against Police and Security Agency Brutality.
The massive struggle which they had themselves labelled #EndSARS had captured popular imagination. But in capturing popular imagination, underscored by the growing intensity, spread and political orientation of the mass protests, it became a threat and present danger to the ruling class, and had to be suppressed, at all cost, leading to the deployment of the military.
Over the two weeks that the protests lasted, we had witnessed a deepening of the politics and demands of the Mass protest movement – two weeks of popular action was teaching to the young, what they had not learnt in the previous two decades about the character of the state, and the nature of ruling class hegemony.
The demands were simple enough, encapsulated in the Five-Point Demand.
That the ruling class across the Federal and State Governments was shaken and panicked, was manifested not only in brutal manner in which the protests were suppressed, but also in the hurried nature of the concession made to the protests in the establishment of Judicial panels of enquiry across the country to investigate cases of police brutality.
Yet, two years down the road, the Police and other security agencies as well as the Military have continued to harass and brutalise Nigerians; while the reports of the judicial panels have been confined to the archives where they have gathered dust on the respective shelves.
EndSARS 5-point Demand
Release all Detainees, disband EndSARS, psychological test and retraining of the to-be-disbanded SARS personnel; compensation for all victims; investigation and prosecution of errant police officers; improved salaries and conditions of service for all police officers.
As we can see from the Five-point demand, and as we have stated above, none of these demands have actually been met. Victims of police and law enforcement brutality and abuse are still languishing in jails; SARS was replaced with SWAT which has continued to carry on in the ignominious footsteps of the disbanded SARS; No officer has undergone psychological test; the overwhelming majority of victims have not even been acknowledged, much less compensated; and of course, the living and working conditions of the police and law enforcement agency personnel have not been improved.
As for the judicial panels, the situation across board can be characterized as a conscious abandonment of report and legacy of the judicial panels by the respective governments. A few examples below, will suffice to prove our point:
Act on EndSARS Panel Report Now To Avoid Repeat Of Protest, Anambra CSOs Tell Soludo – Kenechukwu Ofoma Reporting [thenews-chronicle.com/] October 14, 2022.
The panel recommended forensic examination of the Akwuzu and Nnewi SARS office where extra-judicial killings took place… Top among the recommendation was the payment of N699 million for 110 petitioners of police brutality and for “Former Governor Willy Obiano had announced that N200 million had been set aside for [the] compensation but nothing was done until he left office”
The panel submitted its report on 15th March 2022 at Government House; it was received by Professor Solo Chukulobely, the then Secretary to the Anambra State Government.
Victims with permanent deformities to be paid N1 million and N3 million depending on the extent of their injuries while those with minor injuries should receive between N400,000 and N1 million.
#EndSARS: 32 Protesters in Lagos, Oyo prisons two years later: [punchng.com] – Gbenga Oloniniran reporting: October 1, 2022
Nine languishing for two years now at Agodi Prison Ibadan. Charged with 5 counts including murder, stealing police riffles and other ammunitions and setting police stations ablaze.
23 in Lagos Kirikiri, Ikoyi Prisons. Some were arrested in their residence charged with robbery, arson.
#ENDSARS panel Report Oyo State:
Oyo State #EndSARS Panel’s Report is yet to be released. Four people were killed by police in Ogbomoso and some people were known to have suffered various degrees of injury from police gun-shots according to the lawyers who presented petitions to the Oyo State #EndSARS Panel. The report of the Oyo State #EndSARS panel had not been released. And at least nine-people have remained in prison custody.
#EndSARS: Bauchi governor accused of disregarding panel’s report. Report by Raji Olatunji [iciminigeria.org] August 17, 2022
Claim made by a lawyer, S.G. Idress, dated August 16, 2022. Lawyer Idress averred that his Chambers, Idress & Co. presented petitions before the justice Habibu Idrees-led panel in Bauchi State.
In Yobe and Borno States, no panels were set up as government officials say these was no basis for setting up those panels!
In the North-Western part of Nigeria, only Katsina and Kaduna States out of seven states set up any panels whosoever contrary to the directive of Nigeria’s National Executive Council [NEC]—Abubakar Ahamadu Maishanu, Premium Times, July 1, 2021.
Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara did not have the panel. The Katsina panel established “some cases of right violation, unlawful arrests, illegal detentions…perpetrated by identified members of the disbanded SARS. The Katsina panel sat in three Senatorial districts, namely Daura, Katsina and Funtua”; [compare with Oyo State where the panel sat only in Ibadan in spite of heavy casualties in a place like Ogbomoso]; the Katsina Panel submitted its report on February 2, 2021.
The Kaduna Panel summited it’s report on Saturday June 18, 2021.
In Kano, a coalition of 190 CSOs in November, 2022 petitioned the State government to set up the EndSARS panel to no avail.
Three Nigerians were reportedly killed in Plateau State, Governor Lalong declared 24 hours’ curfew in two LGAs.
The Cable, [thecable.ng]: Haleem Olatunji reporting: October 21, 2020. Edo, Lagos, Ekiti had earlier declared 24 hour’s curfew……
#EndSARS protests: killings, looting and property destroy for Abuja, Jos, Kano. BBC News pidgin – 23 October 2020.
General Observations on the State #EndSARS panels mandated by FG’s NEC.
- We observed that while some states moved rapidly to set up the panels, some were tardy while some did not set up any panel at all.
- Among those that set up the panels, some of the state governments have not released the reports as at the eve of the second anniversary of the tragedy and in spite of the reported continuation of the tradition of impunity and lawlessness of Nigeria’s security and law-enforcement agencies.
- The non-implementation, or perfunctory implementation, of the recommendation of the reports of the panels especially relating to the compensation of victim’s underscore the general carelessness of Nigeria’s ruling class regarding government responsibilities and citizen rights and welfare. Governors’ irresponsibility is particularly stark in those states where governors think they have the option to write “White Paper” accepting or rejecting the recommendation of these judicial panels!
- Yet another level of nonchalance was elicited in states where Governors refused to set up the #EndSARS panels as mandated by FG’s NEC. Apparently, the governors in those states are unaware that protests or no protests, #EndSARS protests or not, police brutality in Nigeria is a generalised and rampant phenomenon, a phenomenon that affected citizens are itching to confront; a phenomenon that citizens need to be encouraged to confront.
- It is also significant that, neither the state governments nor the FG paid systematic, or any, attention to the demand by the protesters that government appraise the conditions of service and living of the policemen and women towards improving them drastically!
General tardiness nonchalance in the responses of the State and Federal Governments.
An online news outlet one full year after the #EndSARS tragedy reported that [punchng.com; 12th December 2021]:
As at December 12, 2021, Oyo, Ogun, Taraba, Bauchi, Anambra “are still holding onto their reports in spite of the fact that most of them were the first to set up their panels and the position of [FG’s] NEC that the panels should conclude sitting in six months unless there are genuine reasons for an extension”.
The #EndSARS Protests: Citizens’ Welfare and Civil Rights and the Delinquency of the Nigerian Ruling Class.
What the general tardiness of state actors in their response to the EndSARS crisis underscores is the deepening delinquency of Nigeria’s ruling class at all levels.
The key issues here are: the delay in concluding and submitting the reports of the sate panels; the non-implementation or perfunctory implementation of the reports and failure to make them available to the public where they were submitted; the silence of the panels on the criminal hoarding of the COVID-19 relief materials by states including criminal diversion of the materials in certain states; and general lack of the will on the part of the FG to urgently get the states to carry out their responsibilities regarding the violation of citizens in the states.
Our prognosis is that left to the Nigerian ruling class and the law enforcement agencies, very little will come out of the #EndSARS tragedy in terms of amelioration of the traditions of law-enforcement which underlie the tragedy.
Our prognosis arises from the fact that the economic and social policies which generate poverty, hopelessness, fear, and anger among the masses of our people are still in place.
These policies are centred around concentration of public resources in a few hands, privatisation of public resources, abandonment of people’s welfare [education, health, housing, jobs, security] by the ruling class, increases in prices of food, energy, fuel, transportation etc., continued denial of trade union rights and continued hostility to civil rights such as criminalization of public protests!
How should the masses of citizens handle the lessons of the EndSARS Tragedy?
What is to be done? #Resist HARDSHIP; join CAST-NIGERIA.
Nigerians do not need to be told that the conditions that produce poverty, hopelessness and mass public anger are still with us and they have become worse. The victims of these conditions who they now blackmail and criminalize as “hoodlums”, “miscreants” etc. are increasing in number. A law-enforcement agency [the police] which is itself among the poorest Nigerians have continued to be turned against their fellow poor Nigerians!
Only the organised and informed power of the Nigerian people can break this cycle of economic policy-induced ruling-class-power anger among the victims, police and “lawenforcement” violence!
It is only socialism that can remove the cause of this cycle through mass working people’s organisation and constant preparedness to stop ruling class looting, and prevent economic and social policies that breed poverty and violence.
Let us join hands, 2023 and beyond, to #RESIST HARDSHIP and to promote #CAST-NIGERIA – Campaign for Socialist Transformation of Nigeria!
Being the Anniversary Press Statement of TPAP-M to mark #EndSARS Protests.
Prof. Olorode & Comrade Gaskia are of TPAP-M Secretariat