By Idris Mohammed
Apparently, Nigerian young people have accumulated enough of human rights violations and bad governance despite their large constituency in the population. Their active participation when it comes to the issue of election is not measurable; they are the largest class that gave the present government the highest number of votes to win election both in 2015 and 2019.
The police brutality is one out of hundred and one issue that has been killing Nigerians silently over a decade and nothing has been done from the side of the government to hold them accountable for their unprofessionalism and misconduct.
There is no basis for violation in a country that called itself a sovereign and democratic nation, on a personal encounter with SARs personnel on 6th October this year in Akure in Ondo state on my way to Ifedore local Government to train Election observers.
I was in a black Lexus car when the police stopped us and surrounded our car with guns like terrorists or a notorious armed group, I asked my driver to park by the roadside, one of them was asking me to come down from the car or he will waste my life. I quickly stepped out and identified myself but he insisted that I should lie down like a criminal. This is just a simple incident compared with countless young people that faced similar and ugly incidence over time.
In June this year, Amnesty International released a report which revealed over 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial killing over the period of three years. I am fully in support of the protest and agitation for the reforms not just as a victim but also a Nigerian citizen who believed so much in the country and democracy, the country must address these violations for us to progress.
However, the END SARs protest gets out of control as a result of poor coordination and lack of well-identified leadership who can control the protesters speak with one voice without any faction or misdirection.
The leaderless protest has spread to almost part of the country like a bush fire, this poor coordination and leadership gave politicians an upper hand to their thugs and hijacked the peaceful protest especially in Abuja, Jos, Lagos, Edo and Kano state.
Terrible videos were viral on the social media portraying young people attacking innocent citizens, setting ablaze vehicles and business and even broke out prison and free prisoners in Benin City the capital city of Edo state. To make matters worse, some thugs were sighted with guns believed to have been taken from the police stations.
Anytime Nigerian youths stand up against injustice, reactions will be different and of course will result in bloodshed, the hoodlums and security agencies killing the innocent young people will continue to live freely without any punishment.
In recent days the violence has subsided in most places where the peaceful protests are taking place, several lost their lives and many sustained serious injuries especially with the brutal approach of the military at the Lekki toll gate. This is not a democracy we are pretending to have practised for over 20 years because functioning democracy doesn’t kill its people or silent their voice to voice out their opinion on national issues.
On the other hand, the protesters learnt their lessons. Now, demonstrations are largely leaderless and decentralized with activists and celebrities using social media to coordinate and mobilize young people to be on the streets.
In as much as I commend the youths for speaking against injustice or brutality being meted on them by the defunct SARS, I will condemn them by allowing disgruntled elements in cahoots with less patriotic Nigerians to undermine the peaceful protests. For those calling Buhari to resign have their own reasons. But i think people should use their power of votes in the forthcoming general election to effect necessary leadership changes.
The ongoing protests across the country should serve as a wake-up call to government that there is poverty, unemployment and hunger in the country.
The government should quickly come up with a stimulus package to eradicate poverty in the country.
Idris Mohammed, a peace & security analyst writes from Katsina state