If there is one thing the #Endsars movement can hang its hat on, it’s the fact that despite protesters having reasons to be utterly outraged, the protests so far have remained mostly peaceful on the side of the protesters.
You don’t need to look deep in history to find cases of public protests turning violent. As recently as May and June this year, the whole of USA was in disarray following the killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd. The protests that ensued immediately turned destructive, as looting, vandalism and extreme provocation became the theme of the rallies.
However, despite fighting a similar cause here in Nigeria, Nigerians have commendably remained cordial, particularly since the civil demonstration has been riddled with unnecessary police violence.
It’s almost a week now since the protests began and no single #Endsars protest has ended in looting or vandalism by protestors. Incidentally, the first day the pro-SARS movement began, violence ensued. While it is a fundamental right to agree or disagree with a cause, it is a crime to inflict harm doing it.
In a series of disturbing videos surfacing online, we see a hoard of whom we believe to be touts, disrupting the peaceful #Endsars protests at Berger Abuja.
— Wale Adetona (@iSlimfit) October 14, 2020
The rowdy bunch appeared out of nowhere carrying sticks and other primitive weapons; proceeding to vandalize the properties around the vicinity before exiting as swiftly as they had come.
— Popping Girl💜 (@iFahvoh) October 14, 2020
According to a few recounts, the touts that had launched the attacks were of Hausa descent, which if evaluated hastily could translate to ethnic hostility. A better assessment would be that the attacks were made possible because of illiteracy and poverty, not to mention the involvement of an unknown catalyst.
In most of the videos, you can hear background narration where people seemed to suggest an external influence instigated the pro-SARS violence.
In one particular video, you can hear the lady behind the camera insinuate that “they have sent them.”
Guys!!! They mobilized hausa boys to attack us at Berger roundabout. They came with cutlasses and daggers and sticks. We drove them their father!!! We pin for here! pic.twitter.com/lYFgvVHaQU
— It's Miss Bernice to you.. (@Ber_nicey) October 14, 2020
While we can’t precisely deduce who this ‘they’ is or are, we can infer that these attacks do not seem organically orchestrated. The Pro SARS guys appeared from nowhere with no real purpose and no aforementioned motive or grievance; they sought to scare the protesters and be on their way- a classic hijack move usually employed during elections.
In fact, reports suggest that these men were given the sum of N1500, to get them to impede the protests.
— ADEWOLE OLUWATOSIN (@TosinTosade) October 14, 2020
This unfortunate event has the markings of one where the desperation of the poor and ignorant are exploited. The reality is that these touts had no reason to have acted the way they did, they had no real reason to attempt suppressing the protest, yet they were willing to inflict harm on people who they’ve had no prior conflict with.
Courageously, the protesters stood their ground and were able to chase off the would-be assailants. So far no casualties have been reported, but people at the site still seemed shaken from the whole incident.
— O.S. Ali (@_thelazybaron) October 14, 2020