After more than a week of sustained protests across major cities in the country, more Nigerians are beginning to ask the tough questions on the sustainability of the #EndSARS protests.
As so many things are happening at the same time, people are also asking “What next?” Is this going to lead to a wider call for reforms across the nation, or are the youths going back to the status quo once men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) are off the streets?
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Already, the move by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to replace the defunct SARS unit with another tactical unit called SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactical) unit has been called out as putting new wine in an old wineskin by sceptical Nigerians. It may seem like the era of lip service by public officials has come to an end as Nigerians are now resolute in their demand for evidence of changes in how the affairs of the Police is being run.
Other Nigerians who are worried are concerned that a sustained fuelling of the protests across the nation may lead to an eventual breakdown of law and order.
Just like it was the case with the #ArabSpring when a number of North African states experienced regime change, the Nigerian government seems to be getting agitated that this may lead to its ouster from power.
Already, there have been two knee-jerk reactions to the #EndSARS protests aside the shootings of unarmed protesters. The Nigerian Army yesterday issued a statement warning against disturbing public peace and that the protesters could be harmed if they refused to stop the agitation. President Buhari has reportedly instructed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Yusuf Buratai to stand down.
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Equally reacting in fear, the administration of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, yesterday also banned any protests whatsoever from taking place due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
But protesters across the country continue to call the bluff of all these threats and they continue to peacefully protest while blocking major roads.
Again, how long can this protest be sustained? Organisers of #EndSARS have refused to negotiate with the government and the police. Some of the major names in the effort to demand justice for victims of police brutality and police reforms, Folarin Falz Falana and Segalink, have already rejected attending a virtual public meeting organised by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Other celebrities (both international and local) and even ordinary Nigerians are continuing to identify with the youth populace in a 5-point demand calling for an end to police brutality and for the restructuring of Nigeria’s security architecture.
It is, therefore, hard to predict where exactly the current #EndSARS protests will be heading. And whether the #EndSARS protests result in a wider reform of the nation’s administrative architecture or not, one certain outcome of this peaceful agitation by Nigerians is that the Nigerian Police will not remain the same after this.
Featured Image Source: Teen Vogue
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