Today, 60 years ago, Nigeria gained her independence from the British ‘colonial masters.’ The quest for nationhood was in the hopes that a sovereign Nigeria will be better off without the British rule. The nation’s independence on 1 October, 1960 was received with much gusto with heightened hopes of building a great nation independent of oppressive rule. The independence celebration was grand with singing and dancing, with fireworks lighting the sky. Sadly, what we see today; a day that calls for celebration, is a sharp contrast from what happened on October 1, 1960.
So many things have gone wrong in Nigeria today, and among them is the constant abuse of the rights of the citizens by ‘uniformed men.’ On Thursday, a PUNCH journalist was brutalised by the police while covering the October 1 protest in the Maryland area of Lagos. According to reports, the journalist was hit with a baton on the head and immediately after, collapsed with blood gushing out of his injured head. His camera was also seized in the process.
This is just one among similar countless incidents that Nigerians have suffered in the hands of uniformed men. What then is the difference between the police during the colonial era and the police now? During the colonial days, the police force was established by the British colonialists primarily for the purpose of repressing all attempts to resist the colonial administrators.
But upon attaining independence, the primary role of the police was redefined as the protection of lives and property of the citizens. Sadly, with the constant harassment Nigerians suffer in the hands of the police; it appears as though we are still living in colonial times whenever there is a call to protest against bad leadership and governance.
The right to peaceful assembly (protest) is a fundamental human right of all Nigerians but it is unfortunate that the police have disregarded this and are remain quick to use excessive force against Nigerians engaging in peaceful protests and journalists covering the event. Police brutality, especially against journalists known all over as the fourth estate of the realm is not only barbaric but a serious human rights issue that needs to be addressed urgently to maintain sanity in our society.
The violation of the rights of the citizens among other things is the reason why on a day like this, Nigerians are out there protesting and demanding for an end to this menace when they ought to have been in a festive mood celebrating our independence just as it was 60 years ago.
Here’s how Nigerians have been reacting to the development:
— Punch Newspapers (@MobilePunch) October 1, 2020
When there is no respect for human lives. Do police know who is a journalist?
— Izuchukwu-Oshiri1stSon (@ElumezeD) October 1, 2020
Journalist's should be allowed to do their job.
Nigerian union of journalist's should do more to protect their members & ensure erring officials are punished
— Duke (@Duke77l) October 1, 2020
A leopard cannot change its spots. Same way Buhari treated journalists in 1984-85
— King Ibe👑 (@ibeukwuoma) October 1, 2020
Police rape, soldier defile minor. We are tired of these brutalization and intimidation by armed forces. 9ja @60 years of captivity.
— Jude Evans (@JudeRome) October 1, 2020
All over the world protests are allowed, and legal
But down here the police makes it violent
A 60 year old man will never learn
— Tonityga (@Tonityga1) October 1, 2020
This madness must stop,there's a constitutional backing for a peaceful protest,if this is true, then we're all in trouble soon …
— Habib Alogba (@donhab011) October 1, 2020