EndSARS: Nigerians mourn slain protesters, demand justice

NIGERIANS have taken to the streets of Lagos state and social media to mourn the death of some unarmed protesters shot by the military during the #EndSARS protests on October 20, 2020.

As the citizens hold remembrance services and reiterate the need to stop harassment by the Nigerian Police, they continue to demand justice for the dead and injured during the protests.

The EndSARS protests, aiming to address the constant Police brutality, peaked on October 20, 2020, when the military gunned down protesters on the night of October 20 at the Lekki Toll gate, where thousands of peaceful protesters converged.

The protests targeted the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a Police unit accused of constant harassment and extortion of citizens.

The Nigerian government denied the killings.

However, findings of the Lagos State Judicial Panel on #EndSARS indicted the Nigerian Army of the Lekki Toll Gate massacre.

The ICIR reports that despite the protests and subsequent actions by the Nigerian government and citizens to make the Police more responsible and committed to securing lives and property, the institution still parades crops of corrupt officers, who are often punished when caught.

On April 15 this year, the Lagos State Police Command dismissed the Divisional Police Officer of the Okokomaiko Division, Emmanuel Edebagha, over his failure to monitor the officials in his unit efficiently.

Edebagha’s men were indicted for extortion and misconduct.

Similarly, on October 18, the state Police Command, through its Commissioner, Idowu Owohunwa, ordered the immediate removal of the Divisional Police Officer of the Meiran Police Station in the state over extortion.

Nigerians react

Mohammed Taoheed, a social justice advocate and a freelance journalist, explained that despite the EndSARS protest, numerous reports have highlighted the persistent harassment and extortion of young Nigerians by the Police.

“As a concerned Nigerian and advocate of social justice, I must confess that I’m at loggerheads with the Nigerian government because of how they treated the issue of #EndSars. With no regret, I must say that I count the government as one that lacks the needed understanding of running a heterogeneous entity like this because of the nonchalant attitude displayed over this serious issue. 

“We are talking about the lives of human beings — the youth we expect to grow and rule us. Their lives were wasted, and nothing meaningful has been done yet. I reiterate, nothing!”

Also, an X user with the handle Obinna Toochukwu mourned the deceased, adding that Police brutality “is a thing in Nigeria.”

“Remembering the 2020 #EndSARS 

“Today, we remember those young Nigerians who fell by Police bullet. Their only offence is being a Nigerian citizen. The rogue organization has not stopped k!ll!ng, maiming, extorting and brutalizing Nigerians. Police brutality is a thing in Nigeria,” he wrote.

Another user, @Chi4Obidatti03, noted that Nigerians were yet to know who gave the order to shoot peaceful protesters in Lagos State.

“On this day, three years ago, the people who were saddled with the responsibility of protecting us pointed the gun at us and shot even when we were holding the national flag and singing the national anthem…until today, we still don’t know who gave the order #EndSARS.”

Although there have been committees’ reports and recommendations across states where the protest happened, Nigerians have continued to ask for the identification and prosecution of those who shot and gave the order to shoot the protesters.

Some other Nigerians, via social media posts, also demanded justice for those in prison and compensation for the bereaved families.

At least 15 protesters still languish in Lagos jail – Amnesty International 

Amnesty International, in a report to commemorate the third anniversary of the ENDSARS protest, noted that at least 15 protesters arrested in 2020 were still being arbitrarily detained – the majority of them without trial – in Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centre and Ikoyi Medium Security Correctional Centre in Lagos State.

According to the report, the Nigerian government filed trumped-up charges, including theft, arson, possession of unlawful firearms, and murder, against many of the protesters, adding that some detained alleged that they had been tortured.

“Our investigation shows the Nigerian authorities’ utter disdain for human rights. Three years in detention without trial is a travesty of justice. This shows the authorities’ contempt for due process of law. The protesters must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Isa Sanusi, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Seven #EndSARS protesters – Daniel Joy-Igbo, Sodiq Adigun, Sunday Okoro, Olumide Fatai, Oluwole Isa, Shehu Anas, and Akiniran Oyetakin – arrested in Lagos in 2020, are being arbitrarily held in Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centre.”

The ICIR, in a series of reports (which can be read here and here) in the last three years, reported how, despite the disbandment of SARS, Nigerian youths continue to face abuse and harassment by the Police.”

Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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