August 5th, in several states across Nigeria, protesters came out in their numbers under the umbrella of Omoyele Sowore’s Revolution Now advocacy group to protest the insecurity in the country, demand accountability from government officials and demand freer and fairer elections in the coming months. Like protesters across the world, young Nigerian men and women braved the pandemic to publicly show their displeasure with the current government and advocate for change. In response they were met with swift and brutal opposition from a joint force that included the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Army.
#RevolutionNow Policemen disrupt a peaceful protest in Osun State, Osogbo. Protesters were arrested for only speaking the rights and voicing out their ills. We are all in this mess together, but the Oppressing Tools doesn’t want to know. pic.twitter.com/FibZTYM7H1
— Adegboye Emmanuel (@Adegboy57492550) August 5, 2020
Protesters were arrested, beaten, and humiliated. Some had their heads shaved with razor blades and broken bottles, in an effort to humble them. Their concerns were not acknowledged by the government, their protest treated like a common nuisance.
— Táíwò Àlàbí HO2/ #COVID19 (@taiwoalabiho2) August 5, 2020
This isn’t the first time the government had responded with such brutality to what it perceives as opposition. Just last year, Omoyele Sowore was detained by the federal goverment on charges of treason for starting the Opposition Now advocacy group. The government ignored judgments from the the country’s major courts denouncing Sowore’s detainment by the DSS as unconstitutional and only released him on bail months after he was originally arrested. It is unsurprising to see the government return to similar tactics.
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) August 5, 2020
One thing is clear, Nigerians are not docile and waiting for whatever misfortune to befall us. We are out in the streets protesting, we are making our voices heard via social media, we are voting with our wallets. The government understands this, and that is why they respond to protests like the Revolution Now protests with such lethal force. But that will not deter a generation of Nigerians determined to free themselves from the consequences of corrupt leadership. We will break free.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.