When Comrade Omoyele Sowore mooted the idea of a non-violent revolution last year he was promptly hunted down and arrested and charged to court for his temerity to use the word ‘revolution’. For calling out poor and dehumanized Nigerians to demonstrate peacefully against the Buhari regime and its policies and programmes that kept worsening the Nigerian socio-economic political condition the exuberant SaharaReporters publisher was detained for months. And presently he is still consigned to Abuja with little or no freedom of movement and association.
Today there is a mini revolution happening in Nigeria following the storied atrocities of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). In many southern cities and towns young Nigerians have continued their #EndSARS protests defying natural and unnatural elements on the streets and voicing out their collective bottled-up frustrations against the Buharian system that is not good at development and progress but sowing tears, sorrow and blood.
Today Nigeria is at war with herself. And Nigerians are at war with ourselves, at war with our leaders and the endemically corrupt elite. The unheeded warnings from prophets, marabouts and critics about the time-bomb (hunger, unemployment, corruption and leadership failure) waiting to explode upon the nation had manifested themselves in reality fashion attracting global attention.
What started as a demonstration against the extra-judicial killings and torture and extortion of the disbanded SARS had snowballed into a national conflagration reminding us of recent revolutions in Algeria, Mali, Sudan, Lebanon and Belarus. Scores had been killed and hundreds more injured yet the die remains cast.
The recent Lekki Toll-Gate massacre in Lagos by the military had opened the federal government up for international condemnations exposing the anti-democratic tendencies of the Buhari regime. That bloody incident could pass off easily as a tipping point in the campaign for radical change in the way and manner we have been led.
Armed men in military uniform had last Tuesday opened fire on peaceful protesters demanding an end to police brutality and state repression at the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos. Why using live bullets when rubber ones were available? And was there a pre-meditated plot to inflict maximum damage in order to intimidate the protesters off the streets?
As usual the Army high command had denied involvement in the shooting that reportedly killed about twelve youths injuring dozens more. Nigeria boasts of rogue soldiers and police officers! Who deployed the ‘zombie’ soldiers? And who gave the order for them to open fire on unarmed compatriots holding the green and white national flags and singing the national anthem?
When the late great Afro-beat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s mother was thrown out of the window of a storey building in Lagos many decades ago the then General Olusegun Obasanjo regime had concluded after a futile investigation that “unknown soldiers” could have carried out the murder of an old woman living in her popular talented son’s house! Nothing came out of it in terms of justice or compensation or apology or whatever. The late Abami Eda buried his mother and life went on.
Years later Fela came out with a hit song he called ‘zombie’ which sought to denounce the criminal state complicity in the killing of his mother by questioning the command and control chain of the army hierarchy. The song remains evergreen even today.
The scrapped SARS had committed unpardonable crimes against innocent citizens from Lagos to Abuja, Port-Harcourt to Enugu. Thousands must have been brutally assassinated in cold-blood at wee hours of the night. And thousands more taken in as prisoners. Yet as SARS went about their atrocious duties butchering people and settling land disputes and ordering erring parties to part with millions of Naira as ‘bribe’ for freedom no effort was ever made by superior powers or authorities to challenge their heinous activities.
If a thorough investigation is carried out about the criminal activities of SARS the federal and state governments would be shocked to discover that more than half of SARS members were fake police officers recruited to do ‘business’ with the lives of Nigerians.
In my own state opf Anambra SARS, based in Awkuzu, was said to be the deadliest den in the entire SARS security structure across the federation. In fact the facility was a graveyard containing shallow graves of scores of murdered victims! Cruel tales had been told by survivors of the Awkuzu SARS mad men’s exploits spanning years.
The Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano had, while addressing anti-SARS protesters in Awka, declared that a former Anambra SARS Head of Operations, a retired Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) James Nwafor, had been relieved of his duty promising that his administration would ensure immediate release of illegal detainees in SARS’s detention camps across the state.
He also made it clear that CSP Nwafor would be prosecuted alongside other defunct SARS officials who were allegedly found wanting in the discharge of their duties as SARS operatives in the state.
In the end the success or otherwise of this #EndSARS revolution, something foretold, must be measured not by the promises or concessions President Muhammadu Buhari and his misruling gang have made but a definitive end to the predatory culture in the current security system in the country.
The#EndSARS demonstrations are legitimate. And they could lead to the Nigerian renaissance. The Nigerian youths have made a huge point. But more points must be made going foward.
Buharism must be made to surrender the Nigerian democratic space for the future generation having abused and wasted theirs. Something must give!