On October 18, 2020, during the #EndSARS protests against police violence and state corruption in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, a photo was shared on social media that quickly drew nationwide attention. The image showed passionate protesters with their fists pumped in the air, mouths wide open singing songs and chanting slogans. Some were holding placards that read “Our Lives Matter.” What drew the attention of the public, however, was the woman right at the center of the image. With a small Nigerian flag in her left hand and missing her right leg, the woman who was later identified as Jane Obiene stood out because of the defiant spirit she embodied by joining the protest march on crutches.
Last month, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times. It might as well have been written by the Pentagon. Buhari promoted Brand Nigeria, auctioning the country’s military services to Western powers, telling readers that Nigeria would lead Africa’s “war on terror” in exchange for foreign infrastructure investment. “Though some believe the war on terror [WOT] winds down with the US departure from Afghanistan,” he says, “the threat it was supposed to address burns fiercely on my continent.” With Boko Haram and Islamic State operating in and near Nigeria, pushing a WOT narrative is easy. But counterterror means imperial intervention.
A Dutch court has ordered the Nigerian subsidiary of Shell to pay compensation over oil spills in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, a ruling which could pave the way for more cases against multinational oil firms. The Court of Appeal in The Hague on Friday ruled that the Nigerian arm of the British-Dutch company must issue payouts over a long-running civil case involving four Nigerian farmers who were seeking compensation, and a clean-up, from the company over pollution caused by leaking oil pipelines. It held Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary liable for two leaks that spewed oil over an area of a total of about 60 football pitches in two villages, saying that it could not be established “beyond a reasonable doubt” that saboteurs were to blame.
‘Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it,’ wrote Frantz Fanon. It has been 60 years since Nigeria achieved its independence from Britain, yet these words reverberate both as anthem and creed in all corners of Nigeria today. In October 2020, thousands of Nigerian youth from across the country chose to take a stand against the extra-judicial killings committed by the Nigerian police branch known as SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad). Amidst a global pandemic and an economic recession, Nigerians stood firm in their resolve to fulfill the mission of their generation – ending police violence and corrupt governance, by any means necessary and, in many cases, at the cost of their own lives.
In a gory event widely described as Black Tuesday, Nigerians witness one of the most violent crackdown on protest since the Enugu Iva Valley Massacre in 1949. Like bloodthirsty Vamps, the army and police on October 20, descended on peaceful protesters with the kind of force and desperation only witnessed in movies and war. We lost our Brothers, Friends, Fathers, Mothers, Sons and Daughters to the uncontrollable bloodlust of a rapacious and highly vindictive ruling elites. Just like yesterday, we saw our friends lying helplessly on the floor, drowned in their own pool of blood. Armed only with flags and solidarity songs, our friends were shot without mercy and hunted like games for exercising there legitimate right to protest.
Massive and intense protests against the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS unit, have been going on for at least four weeks now in Nigeria, but tensions between the SARS unit and the Nigerian people have only boiled over from older longstanding issues. Now, it seems that these current protests are not just against the controversial unit itself, but are also a wholesale rejection of US imperialism and the influence of US policy that many outside of Nigeria may not even be aware of. I’m joined by Abiodun Aremu, secretary for the Joint Action Front in Lagos, Nigeria, to talk about these issues.
Nigeria - On 3 October, a young man was killed by the police in Ughelli, a town in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. A video of this incidence was circulated by residents of the city on WhatsApp and also posted on Twitter. This sparked the #EndSARS revolt of youths in the country, which was drowned in blood with the massacre of at least 36 people on 20 October. The bulk of these was at the Lekki tollgate, in Lagos state – one of the two main centres of the uprising in that mega-city where one-tenth of the country’s population resides.
Washington, DC - The End SAR Solidarity Network is mobilized DC area based activists to protest in front of the Embassy of Nigeria to demand justice for peaceful protestors in Nigeria who were massacred by the Nigerian army at Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020 and demand an end to the continued repression of other activists. On the 20th of October, 2020, the Nigerian army opened fire on peaceful protesters singing the Nigerian anthem and waving the Nigerian flag at Lekki tollgate, Alausa and other parts of Lagos.
As social movements continue around the world to end the impunity that police forces have, the African continent has seen their biggest movement within the country of Nigeria with the #EndSARS protests. Nigeria has the largest population on the continent, and the largest population of young people has taken to the streets to protest the torture and brutality Nigerians are facing at the hands of police. The Nigerian government has barely acknowledged some of the problems exist, the protests have turned toward social change demands, with citizens calling for more anti-corruption crackdowns in the government and social and structural changes nationwide.
Nigerian security forces opened fire this week on protesters in Lagos, killing at least 12 demonstrators and marking a deadly escalation in the weekslong protests against police brutality. Since early October, tens of thousands of Nigerians have been marching in cities throughout the country, demanding the disbandment of a notorious police unit known as SARS—the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. An Amnesty International report published in June documented dozens of cases of torture and extrajudicial killing by the unit. But the incident that sparked the movement was a video of what appeared to be an unprovoked killing of a man by SARS officers in the Delta State on Oct. 3.
Washington, D.C.-based Pan-African Community Action (PACA) and the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP)’s U.S. Out of Africa Network (USOAN) issued a joint statement condemning what appears to be illegal police and military violence committed against unarmed, peaceful protesters in Nigeria. PACA and the USOAN assert, however, a U.S. connection to the violence that many are not making. The Nigerian police forces and military have long histories with the United States through the U.S.-led International Police Training School and the military-to-military relations between U.S. and Nigerian militaries, a part of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).
Millions of Nigerians are urging the Nigerian government to reject Monsanto’s attempts to introduce genetically modified (GMO) cotton and maize into the country's food and farming systems. One-hundred organizations representing more than 5 million Nigerians, including farmers, faith-based organisations, civil society groups, students and local community groups, have submitted a joint objection to the country's National Biosafety Management Agency (NABMA) expressing serious concerns about human health and environmental risks of genetically altered crops. The groups' petition follows Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited's own application to NAMBA that seeks to release GMO cotton (Bt cotton, event MON 15985) into the city of Zaria as well as surrounding towns.
The coronavirus disease, otherwise known as COVID-19, was first reported in Wuhan, China on the last day of December 2019. When it began to spread rapidly , the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020. As such, the coronavirus puts and continues to put a spotlight on the need for meaningful investment in health care...
2019 had her fair share of protests from North, West, East and Southern Africa. The reasons for these protests were largely political, followed by economic and then demand for human rights in some instances not to forget issues of ethnic tensions and insecurity. The protests toppled two long serving presidents, Sudan’s Omar al Bashir and Algeria’s Abdul Aziz Bouteflika. Two dogged movements swept away a combine 50-years of presidential rule. We look back at how these protests were started, what they achieved and their current statuses.