Nigeria Braces for Disruptions as Anti-Police Protests Spread

By Our Reporters

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Protests against Nigerian police abuses entered the second week with further disruptions expected on Tuesday as more youths throng the streets.

At least 10 people have died across the country in confrontations with law enforcement agents, with 12 October proving the bloodiest with about seven deaths reported, four of them in Lagos.

In the Southern oil-industry centre of Port Harcourt, marchers defied a ban by the governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike and marched through the city, that is also the state capital, denouncing police atrocities. Protests were also reported from other cities across the country.

Protests in Port Harcourt.

President Muhammadu Buhari sought to head off the protests on Monday, announcing the scrapping of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, that became better known for perpetrating the very offences they were meant to curb.

“The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people,” Buhari said in remarks on Monday broadcast on television. ”We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice.

The president pledged that the policemen involved in extra-judicial killings will be identified and tried for their crimes.

Tweet showing police shooting in Lagos.

It remains to be seen if the government’s moves would be enough to assuage the youths who are evidently alienated from, and fed up with, the country’s gerontocratic leaders.

While those below the age 30 make up almost 60 percent of the population, Buhari is 77, while his closest challengee in last year’s elections, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, is also in his 70s. The average age of the ministers is also  above 60. Many political actors, such as Buhari has been on the scene since the 1960s.

A colonial creation, the Nigeria Police Force traditionally was an instrument of oppression,  for keeping the populace in check.. This has informed its hostile disposition to the populace in protecting the ruling elite.

Amidst mounting youth unemployment through year’s of misrule and corruption, the police was relied upon to keep the restive citizens in check. The SARS unit took this further by actively preying on citizens, particularly the youth. The push back through street protests have left the authorities rattled.