Following the #EndSARS Protest that rocked Nigeria for weeks, the government have claimed that they will consciously begin working towards a change. And while some judicial panels have been set up to investigate police brutality, corruption and the extra-judicial killings by the police, the government’s actions outside of that seems to be opposing democracy and the rights of many Nigerians.
Just a few days after the protest, debates around freedom of speech and expression have been all over the media. Also, there have been several attempts in regulating social media with several politicians subtly and actively pushing for the social media bill. And now, there are reports of targeted restriction of movement and freezing of bank accounts of those who gave distinct support to the #EndSARS Protest.
The Punch has reported that banks informed some #EndSARS promoters that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had directed that their accounts be frozen. The Punch report further shared the account of a Bassey Israel, who was responsible for the #EndSARS medical team in Port Harcourt. According to Bassey, his account had remained frozen since October 15.
Here are a few reactions:
Government officials and the president of Nigeria have promised to work towards definite change. To admit that there’s a need to work towards change is to admit that protesters are well within their rights to protest and demand the things they demanded. So why all the harassment and restrictions on certain people?
On Tuesday, 3 November 2020, it was Nigerian attorney and entrepreneur, Modupe Odele, who was targeted. She was briefly detained and her passport seized at the airport. Moe, as she is fondly called, stated that the security operatives had asked her to go, without her passport, and reminded her that she was still under investigation. With these actions by the government, it only points to the fact that the Nigerian government have little or no regards for democracy and would say anything to stifle those calling them out for bad leadership.
The Nigerian government targeting specific individuals from the #EndSARS protest also comes off as the basic strategies in a dictatorial regime. In fact, it is terrifying. The restriction of information, restriction of movement, the killing of protesters all seem reminiscent of the past military regimes in Nigeria. Maybe, this is a symptom of a former military leader who hasn’t yet gotten the memo of how a democratic system works. The Nigerian government is positioning itself as less inclined with democracy and more inclined with autocracy, and this is a cause for serious concern.
Michael is a dynamic writer who is still exploring the nuances of life and being human. When I’m not writing, I’m out with friends or spending nice time alone watching movies or TV Shows.
Michael is available on Twitter and Instagram @TheMichaelFaya