One year has come to bear after the historic event of the #ENDSARS movement took a belligerent form with street protests. While the rootings of the movement was known to have its records far back as 2016 on the social media to protest police brutality, events unfolded last October to climax into transcending from social media campaigns to strong street protests that further collapsed economic activities which as at then was just recuperating from the scourge of the COVID-19 lockdown. The dynamic turn of moving to the street saw the social media now serving as a channel of mobilisation facilitating the convergence of protesters – largely youths – to aggressively campaign against police brutality in the Country.
The narratives appeared to have reflected more elaborate interlocks of struggles, as an intending revolution, with the sustenance of the protests even after the Speical Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – the first point of grievance – was disbanded by the Nigerian Police on the 11th October 2020. Hence, the dynamics that greeted the event saw expression of certain defects which have themselves constituted clogs of unsavoury conditions, finding reflections in protests over grievances.
Among others, such events as the plundering of warehouses in search of COVID-19 palliatives which were believed to have been hoarded in warehouses across the Country, took records of dynamic interlocks which compounded to further deepen the controversies of the protests. The attack and plundering of houses of VIPs, were events that later built up at the wake of warehouse plundering.
The clogs of demonstrations which were sustained over a time grew to see the protests turning sour, following the alleged shootings at the Lekki Toll Plaza – a development that culminated into heavy clampdown on police infrastructures and other government facilities in protest against the happening. The attacks on police stations and men of the force saw the crackings of police architecture with the displacement of operations across the Country. Several checkpoints and police stations were deserted. As security architecture crumbled, actual attacks and repealed attempts on prisons and police stations across the Country took successions. Up till now, the relics of the onslaught still abide in the Country. Lagos which was deeply affected by the protests with the dynamic turn of the movement, saw sour attacks on public properties with the loss of billions of naira. The relics of the onslaught still frowns at the State, as calls for intervention continue to gather momentum to rebuild the crumbled estates. The fact that the protests took a degenerating narrative to assume belligerent form – a development overtaken by charlatans to perpetrate mischievous acts, calls for concern.
As the force of disturbances of the protests made waves to attract global records, it would only be rational that proactive interventions are put into strong implementation to avoid a repetition. It is, however, saddening that the situations highlighted to have culminated into the ugly development are still very much present in the Country. It is incontrovertible that situations have not posed better conditions, as such defects as youth unemployment and decay of the police structure, are still very pronounced in the Country.
The calls for an urgent reform of the Nigeria police structure to sanitise the Force from the rot of deficiencies have not found enough strong expression to avert a possible repeat of the ugly saga. Police brutality and corruption are known to still be very much alive in the Force today. While the morale of men of the Force suffered deep loss and they resorted to some caution immediately after the wake of the development, it is observable that the defects of the structures within the Force have seen long seated malfeasance finding expression again. The profile of youth unemployment is known not to have received any ray of light. It is inarguable that the prevailing socio-economic state do not pose more appealing conditions. To avert a reoccurence, it is pertinent for the Government to take hindsight to appreciate the necessity to address the pressing deficiencies capable of brewing a repeat of another ugly development.