The 20th of October would remain a remarkable date in the hearts of many Nigerians, as this marks an anniversary of the revolutionary 2020 EndSars protest that condemned the reoccurring menace of police brutality in the nation. More than that, 20/10/2020 reminds Nigerians of the pain, fear, and terror protesters felt when members of the Nigerian Army shot at unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State.
Where does this stand amongst protests in Africa?
Since 2017, anti-government protests have erupted in over 30 African countries with underlying issues bordering on election crisis, economic challenges, police brutality, and other issues.
The most recent of these demonstrations is the Sierra Leone crisis, where residents took to the streets to protest over the rising cost of living and other issues surrounding the worsening economic state of the country. While some of these protests end in clashes with security agencies, others pass off with no violent occurrences.
The EndSars protest ranks amongst the most revolutionary demonstrations Africa and Nigeria has seen in recent years, significantly because this has awakened the participation of Nigerian youths in governance. This is clear in the number of youths who registered in the suspended voters registration exercise.
What has changed?
Protesters highlighted a five-point demand for the federal government to address, including the release of arrested protesters, justice for victims of police brutality, prosecution of police ‘bad eggs’, retraining ex-SARS members and increase in police salary.
Unfortunately, since the two years event, the Nigerian government has failed to fully address the complaints of the protesters. Amnesty International disclosed today that more than 40 protesters were still in prisons across Nigeria, for participating in the EndSars protest, while the panel investigating police impunity has failed to deliver justice to hundreds of victims of police brutality.
Earlier in the year, there were reports that some Nigerian police officers were to embark on a strike to express their concerns over the non-implementation of the 20% increase in salaries. However, the Nigeria Police Force recently dismissed some of its members convicted of misconduct