An update on the #June12Protests in Nigeria
The labour of our heroes past
The labour of our heroes past
Today, June 12 is Democracy Day, here in Nigeria. A day to commemorate the restoration of democracy and a move to civilian rule in the Federal Republic of Nigeria back in the ’90s after several years of strict military rule. Historically, it is supposed to be a memorable day in our country’s past, given that it commemorates the day in 1993 when MKO Abiola was appointed to be the head of state in Nigeria’s first election since military coup in 1983 – a landmark moment that is called the country’s freest and fairest election till date.
Today, the day serves as a reminder of the arduous journey ahead to witnessing true democracy within the country given that it is still plagued with inept leaders, corruptions, state-sanctioned violence, poverty and an unwillingness to develop its growing youth population. This year especially, Democracy Day has carried more weight than ever before, following the horrors that we all witnessed in real-time on October 20 2020, and the horrors that we continue to witness being meted to our fellow countrymen online and offline.
Earlier this month, following weeks of increased insecurity and violence at almost every corner of the country, from Lagos where there were reports of several kidnappings, to kidnappings and abductions across several universities in the country’s Northern region, many concerned Nigerians began planning towards a peaceful protest on June 12. However, as momentum grew, the motivations behind the protest continued to develop and take on new meanings for various people from LGTBQIA+ issues to the multiple political and police killings that persist across Nigeria, the Twitter ban and the government’s lackadaisical response to them.
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All across the country, pockets of peaceful protests have sprouted up from Abuja to Ibadan, Lagos, Jos, Osogbo, Abeokuta and Akure, marking the first time that many young Nigerians will rally together simultaneously across several states following last October’s #EndSARS protests. Within the diaspora as well, Nigerian citizens are standing in solidarity with their countrypeople back at home and engaging in peaceful demonstrations in London and more. Back home, however, the government’s reaction to these planned demonstrations and indeed our legal rights as citizens of Nigeria has been anything but encouraging, as the present administration continues to make known that young people in Nigeria needed to “behave” properly in order to be treated with basic decency.
Today, reports of heavy police presence across major cities in Nigeria were reported by several eyewitnesses who went out to peacefully observe the demonstrations chanting “Buhari Must Go”. In Abuja, protesters gathered peacefully on the streets but they were chased away by armed police officers who threw and attacked them with tear gas and live rounds. According to AlJazeera, even journalists and media crew on ground were harassed by security forces who wished to disperse everyone from the streets.
Similarly in Ojota, Lagos, protesters who were gathered on the streets were chased, harassed, beaten and arrested by armed security forces who were looking for scapegoats to answer for the ‘unlawful’ gathering. Mr Macaroni, the comedian and activist who was widely influential during the #EndSARS protests also marched alongside those gathered in Ojota. However, he reported online that warning had been sent that security forces were out to start shooting at anyone who was engaging in protests.
— Pulse (@PulseNigeria247) June 12, 2021
As of right now, it is not currently known how many people have been harassed and arrested by police across the country, however, there is currently a Google Doc currently being shared to fill in all the necessary information needed to find people who have been unlawfully detained for exercising their constitutional rights. If you know someone or have heard of someone who has been taken by police, you can fill in the information below.
This is a developing story and this post will be updated regularly.
Things you can do if someone is arrested in your presence.
1. Ask them to shout their name to you.
2. Record a video if you can safely do so.
3. Take a picture of the vehicle registration plate they are being placed in
then make a report here: https://t.co/4VZYRrHXzv
— moe (@Mochievous) June 12, 2021
Featured image credits/Reuters