The Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) has thrown its weight behind the #EndSARS mass protests ongoing across the country.
Dagga Tolar, spokesperson for MSA, in a statement on Sunday knocked President Muhammadu Buhari for defending officials of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a brutish and repressive unit of the Nigeria Police Force.
The statement reads, “The present campaign has for its object the disbandment of the SARS unit. The government’s spokespersons and the police have resorted to bold-faces and blackmail that SARS cannot be disbanded and that those calling for its disbandment are criminals. We support the call by Nigerians for #EndSARS. The fact that the Buhari’s regime is defending a brutish and repressive unit of the Nigeria Police Force against the popular demand of the people for its disbandment is undemocratic and can only mean that it is not any different.
“Repression, however, is not strange to the Buhari’s regime. Peaceful protest for democratic rights of self-determination have been violently dispersed, in some cases protesters were even killed, without any inquiry or compensation paid to the families of the victims. Initial peaceful protest against the hike in fuel and electricity tariff was also forcefully dispersed. Even now, the regime has attempted to forcefully disperse protests in Osun and Abuja, as protesters stood their ground in the face of tear gases and live ammunition. The MSA condemns the application of force to disperse peaceful protesters and ask that protesters continue to mass and stand their ground.
“The atrocities of the police against average people are the product of the debasement of the police by the capitalist political class. The fact that they are constantly called upon to wreak terror on protesters set them on a path of acrimony against the civilian population they emerged from. The Nigeria Police Force also have the misfortune of lacking a police union that can speak up for them in terms of ensuring dignifying pay and favourable working conditions. We have a prevalent situation where policemen pay for their boots, uniforms, and must provide for their stationaries or compel Nigerians through bribery and corruption to get these working tools. This also explains why they have the backing of the top hierarchy of the police to act unchecked, because this hierarchy is responsible for the debasement and impoverishment of the ranks.
“Of course, the police bosses are themselves unquestionable and unaccountable to the rank and file, granting them liberty to make away with the resources, including pension funds, which should, in reality, be used to provide police rank and file an improved working condition. The reason why the police bosses close their eyes at the atrocities of the underlings is that they are the managers of the scheme of extortion of ordinary people, through random raiding, the illegal arrest of citizens on their way home from work, and even of unemployed youths on their streets, and setting up extortionate roadblocks that create artificial traffic logjam.
“This, however, reflect the failure of capitalism and a backwardness yet of Nigeria’s 21 years of uninterrupted democracy, which continues in a military fashion of denying the democratic rights of the rank and file to a union when in reality those at the top are fully protected.
“We call on the NLC and TUC not to remain silent on this and publicly join the campaign to #EndSARS now, and at the same time demanding for a police union.
“We demand justice and compensation for the families of the persons killed extra-judicially by the police and the bringing to trial of all involved in such killings. We also demand the democratic control by the mass of the working people, via their unions and organisations in the management and conduct of all police affairs and engagement with members of the public.
“The human rights desk in all police stations should also no longer be an internal affair of the police; this must also comprise of the working masses electing their members in every community to be part of it.
“The campaign to #EndSARS must be built and coordinated in the real world while coordinating with the various communities and states where similar protests are breaking out. The present demand to #EndSARS must also be deepened to include various degrees of the economic oppression that Nigerians suffer in the hands of the capitalist state, including demands for a reversal in the recently increased prices of electricity tariffs and fuel and for school fees to remain as they were before COVID-19.”