Today as we mark the third year rememberance of the EndSars protest in Nigeria, it is a day to reflect on the loss of lifes and properties of both the innocent and culpable Nigerians who ended up being victims of a protest that symbolises the stretch of pain and endurance of the Nigerian youths.
We must appreciate the work done by the various judicial panels across the states and look forward to the implementation of recommendations and compensation to victims of police brutality in Nigeria.
We must support ongoing police reform efforts and encourage those who demonstrated for change to engage politically to achieve it.
We must remember that the use of force to oppress citizens as demonstrated by the endsars protest is in the context of the government’s failure to deliver public goods – security, health, education, and infrastructure. This is what led to dissent and resistance against the Nigerian state. The protests occurred amidst growing general, and particularly youth dissatisfaction with the government at a time when youth unemployment in Nigeria hovered around 27%. The country has an estimated population of 217 million, 64% of which are youth, aged 18 to 35, and more likely to be unemployed despite being more educated than the older generation. The most prominent problems facing these young people are security, unemployment, and the economy. These youth believed – and still believe – that their government is failing them on all these issues and leading the country in the wrong direction. This we must not forget!
The changes that followed the #EndSARS protests are fast disappearing, as police brutality is again becoming a daily part of life for people across Nigeria. The recent cases of extrajudicial killings and extortion show that the police are not ready to conduct their duties in compliance with international human rights standards. Reforming the Nigeria police force will continue to be a distant dream if impunity remains part of policing operations.
I admonish the Nigerian authorities to take concrete and effective measures to end police impunity, including by giving clear directives to the police not to violate human rights and those suspected of violating human rights should be brought to justice in fair trials and without recourse to the death penalty.
As we mark the third year anniversary of the EndSars, we must not forget those who are still behind bars for the sole purpose of participation in the protest. They have committed no offence by expressing their view and joining a peaceful protest. Justice must be sought for them.
May Nigeria know peace and Justice.
Judicial panel member on EndSars.(Osun)