The masses in Nigeria, particularly youths, demonstrated our readiness as a generation to stand up against oppression and fight to end all forms of injustice, with the EndSARS protests. The regime’s draconian actions over the last two weeks show that this struggle must continue.
The fight to end dictatorship and corrupt rule of a few is an idea whose time has come. No amount of intimidation will stop the people united and determined to fulfill our historic mission.
Repression of the masses and #EndSARS organisers
The government has begun the first phase of a two-pronged crackdown. Large numbers of poor people are being vilified as criminals and identified volunteers who supported the #EndSARS protests in different ways are being targeted.
At least 480 people have been arrested over the last two weeks for “looting”. Most of these people are not looters. They merely took COVID-19 palliatives that should have been used to ameliorate hunger of millions of Nigerians, but which government officials kept in warehouses for patronage and profit. Several people were also killed during the stampedes on warehouses by the police, including Pelumi Onifade a 20-year old student and journalist, who was covering one of such events in Lagos.
And oppressive administrative measures have been taken against several citizens who demonstrated their constitutional right of association by supporting the peaceful protests with medical and legal aid. Modupe Odele, a lawyer who contributed to providing free legal services to protesters was barred from traveling out of the country on holidays by the National Immigration Service on Monday 2 November and briefly detained at the airport. Her passport was seized has now been seized by the state security service – the secret police which is notorious for its outright sense of contempt for the rule of law.
The bank accounts of several patriotic Nigerians who supported the protest as a civic duty have been frozen. These include Mr Bassey Israel, a pharmacist based in Port Harcourt, who as coordinated the #EndSARS medical team in that city during the protests. His bank account was frozen in the heat of the demonstrations. Many more people are now facing similar restrictions on their accounts.
The Coalition for Revolution condemns these violations of citizens’ rights in the most unequivocal of terms and we call on all Nigerians to deepen the resistance and fight now for total liberation. Failure to do this will only embolden state’s repressive machinery to carry on with the brazen suppression of the people.
SSS violates teachers’ rights and disrupts pupils’ education
The readiness of the regime to smash any critical voice – if we allow them – was clearly demonstrated by the state security service when it shut down the Community Staff Schools for children and wards of the State Security Service (SSS) at Asokoro, Abuja on Monday 2 November. 140 teachers and several other members of staff were sacked. And almost 2,000 pupils of the school in nursery, primary and secondary classes were sent home with immediate effect until the secret police finds more pliable staff to replace those dismissed.
What was the crime of the workers? They merely demanded the regularisation of their employment and legitimate increases in salaries. And this was after the school increased tuition fees by upwards 40%. In the characteristic manner of the regime to lie through its teeth, the secret police came up with a cock and bull story that they were “disengaging” the staff “due to the effect of COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy”!
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has blood on his hands
And it is not only the secret police that has a penchant for deceit. Every single functionary of the regime from the local governments, through the states to the federal government. And the most murderous lies regarding the massacre of harmless citizens during the #EndSARS protests are from Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor or Lagos state.
Mr Sanwo-Olu feigned ignorance about the 20.10.20 killings at Alausa and Lekki, until the army was forced to accept that they were there, and on his invitation. The governor then claimed that he did not ask them to come and kill protesters as if soldiers would come to play snookers with their guns.
Despite having his hands thus covered with the blood of those killed on that fateful day in our country’s history, Mr Sanwo-Olu went ahead to amend the terms of reference of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses, to include what his government describes as the “Lekki Toll Gate Incident”. This is rubbing salt on fresh wounds and will not be tolerated.
CORE and its affiliates find Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his government liable for the 20.10.20 massacre. The governor is totally lacking in credibility to cause the circumstances surrounding the massacre in Lagos state to be investigated. On the contrary Mr Sanwo-Olu must be dragged before the International Criminal Court for this crime against inhumanity.
Operation MESA: the secretive monster of repression
The massacre also throws light on an insidious dark spot in the regime’s repressive apparatus. The soldiers that were deployed on the orders of the governor to kill unarmed citizens were officers of Operation MESA. Op MESA as it is called amongst our oppressors brings together bloodthirsty security personnel from the army, navy and air force for dark joint operations meant to quell the popular will of the people.
It is a larger version of the infamous Paul Okutimo-led Rivers State Internal Security Task Force which was used to suppress the Ogonis struggle for self-determination in the 1990s, including the frame up of Ken Saro-Wiwa for hanging. This monstrous relic from the dark days of military dictatorship must not be allowed to continue existing in a supposedly democratic era.
In the light of these, CORE and its affiliates remain committed to the struggle to #EndSARS, #BringSanwoluToJustice, #EndOpMESA, #EndInjustice and for #RevolutionNow. To push home our demands, we are organising a series of further protests starting with a march against police brutality and extrajudicial murder of our protesting colleagues by 9:00am on 7 November, starting from Allen Junction, Lagos.
Our immediate demands are thus:
• The federal government must accept full responsibility for killing people during the #EndSARS protest, immortalise these fallen heroes and make adequate restitution
• Lagos state government must remove any reference to the Lekki and Alausa massacre from the considerations of the Lagos State Judicial Panel. We demand an independent panel be constituted, including by civil society organisations, youths and the trade unions
• Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Chief of Army Staff, Mr Mohammed Adamu the Inspector General of Police and every other person found liable of killings during the #EndSARS protests must step down from their offices and be dragged before the International Criminal Court
• Immediate scrapping of Operation MESA and any new form of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad as a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit or by any name whatsoever called
• The return of Modupe Odele’s passport and the lifting of any travel ban, freeze of accounts or any other repressive measures against #EndSARS protesters
• The reinstatement of the sacked teachers and all other workers in the SSS Community Schools with immediate effect and without any loss of pay whatsoever
• Release of everybody arrested for expropriating COVID-19 palliatives. These are not looters. The looters are politicians who denied the poor masses these food items when needed the most
• Respect for our right to freedom of association, including peaceful protest. We thus condemn the threats of the Lagos state police command to clampdown on the 7 November demonstration – we will not be deterred.