The #EndSARS protest in Nigeria which started out as a clamour for the scrapping of a notorious Police unit, Special Anti – Robbery Squad (SARS) for the acts of brutality meted on innocent Nigerians by officers of the Squad, turned out to be an effective means through which young Nigerians expressed a myriad of grievances to the Nigerian government. When the government announced the disbandment of SARS, more Nigerians took to the streets to join in the protests, partly due to past betrayal by the same government which failed to implement initial orders it had made with respect to SARS. Moreso, the #EndSARS protest became a popular vehicle to drive change in various sectors, with Nigerians demanding for better governance and decent living standards.
As the protests against police brutality which erupted in several states across Nigeria last week, continues unabated, thousands of Nigerians have remained on the streets to protest against the high-handedness of the Police, which is symptomatic of bad governance in the country. The protesters are demanding for an immediate institutional reform of the Police and other government institutions, in order to address the systemic rot, corruption and wastage of resources that have been the hallmarks of the nation’s misgovernance for decades. In the light of these protests, the Federal Capital Territory Security Committee in Abuja, recently issued a ban on the #EndSARS protest in Abuja, for supposed violation of the COVID-19 protocols. This is arising from the concern that despite the dissolution of the Federal Special Anti – Robbery Squad, FSARS, by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the peaceful protests have continued in several parts of the country.
Following the recent disbandment of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) by the Nigerian government, the Social Development Integrated Centre (SOCIAL ACTION) wishes to draw the attention of the government and the public, to the increasing cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) involving some unscrupulous security operatives in Nigeria. Issues of human rights abuse perpetrated against the girl child must be brought to the fore, in commemoration of the International Day of the Girl child, which was marked across the world yesterday, October 11, 2020. There have been allegations of rape, sexual harassment and other acts of gender-based violence meted out against women and girls by law enforcement agents. There also appears to be a conspiracy of silence whereby, security agents found complicit, are neither suspended from office immediately for their unprofessional conduct, nor made to face judicial sanction. Women’s rights have been flagrantly violated and the law enforcement agents saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the enforcement of these rights are now increasingly indicted in the physical and sexual abuse of women and girls.
By Joy Bitrus Ashalva, Project Officer, Social Action
Maimuna Dahiru is a 35-year-old woman originally from Baga, in Kukawa Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State in North-Eastern Nigeria. A mother of eight children, including five girls and three boys, Maimuna and her family fled when Boko Haram insurgents attacked Baga town in December, 2018. Since 2013, particularly in 2015, Boko Haram fighters have raided Baga and surrounding villages, killing thousands of people and burning homes and public buildings. Given the fluid security situation, people sometimes return to their community after periods of calm only for the insurgents to strike again.
As Nigeria marked its 60th Independence Anniversary on October 1 this year, the Civil Rights Council (CRC) established by Social Development Integrated Centre, SOCIAL ACTION, commemorated the nation’s history with a protest march to draw attention to the surreptitious hike in fuel price and electricity tariffs across the country. It will be recalled that the Nigerian economy experienced a decline, following the COVID-19 lockdown, and many Nigerians faced biting hardship as a result. Amidst these occurrences, the Federal Government suddenly announced an increment in tariff of essential commodities such as Electricity and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). The inflation in the cost of these commodities had negative impacts on other essential services and inevitably increased daily cost of living. This generated reactions from organized labour and Civil Society groups in Nigeria, leading to a national debate and call for mass action in the country. CRC galvanized its structures to participate in this national debate and to initiate a mass protest on the Nation’s Independence Day Anniversary.
Written by Lillian I. Akhigbe
The recent ban on routine patrol duties of the Federal Special Anti – Robbery Squad (FSARS) by the Federal Government of Nigeria, is certainly not the first of its kind, as such proclamations have been made by the hierarchy of the Nigeria Police severally, with no effective compliance resulting therefrom. Within the past five years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, there have been at least 5 marching orders made with respect to FSARS and in response to the allegations of human rights violations levelled against officers of the FSARS division of the Police Force by several persons across the country. Many FSARS officers have gained notoriety for their inappropriate dressing and illegal activities which they perpetrate under the guise of conducting stop and search operations along the highways. The unlawful activities meted out on innocent Nigerians by FSARS include, harassments, intimidation, physical assaults, extortion, illegal detention, torture and extra – judicial killing.
The Federal Ministry of Transportation has proposed a series of tax incentives for the Maritime industry. This was disclosed by the Director – General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who stated that the proposed tax incentives were meant to boost economic activities in the Sector, amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to him, the tax incentives which shall be applicable to vessels imported by Nigerians or by the Nigerian shipping companies and intended for use in foreign or domestic trade, shall include: zero import duty (full waiver) for brand new vessels, 0.5 percent import duty (partial waiver) for vessels aged between one and five years, and 1 percent import duty (partial waiver) for vessels aged between five and eight years, respectively.
The Social Development Integrated Centre, SOCIAL ACTION, condemns and rejects wholly, the surreptitious hike in fuel price and electricity tariffs across the country. Under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the pump price of petrol has witnessed a steady and unprecedented increase from ₦121 per litre in June 2020, to over ₦143 in July 2020, ₦150 in August 2020, and now sells for as high as ₦162 in September, 2020. Electricity tariffs were also increased by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, from about ₦30.23 per kwh (kilowatt unit of energy per hour) to as much as ₦62.33 per kwh, an astronomical increase which is meant to also affect pre-paid Meter users who had recharged their units before the policy took effect. SOCIAL ACTION wishes to state unequivocally, that such an increment is totally unacceptable and must be resisted by all well-meaning Nigerians.
As the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues, the Federal Government of Nigeria has made various attempts to bolster the economy of the country, in order to cushion the adverse impact of the disease outbreak on the populace. The Federal Government recently announced its approval of a ₦10 Billion COVID-19 intervention fund to road transport workers and operators in Nigeria, in support of the continuity of their businesses. This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, when she received the leadership of the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA).
The Social Development Integrated Centre (SOCIAL ACTION) and Civil rights Council (CRC) wish to draw the attention of the Nigerian government and the public, to the increasing cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) involving some unscrupulous security operatives in Nigeria. There have been allegations of rape, sexual harassment and other acts of gender-based violence meted out against women and girls by law enforcement agents. There also appears to be a conspiracy of silence whereby, security agents found complicit, are neither suspended from office immediately for their unprofessional conduct, nor made to face judicial sanction. Women’s rights have been flagrantly violated and the law enforcement agents saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the enforcement of these rights are now increasingly indicted in the physical and sexual abuse of women and girls.