It is day 8 of the #EndSARS movement and while protests are still going on strong in cities like Lagos and Abuja, we are seeing more obstruction of peaceful demonstration of rights from the government.
Making an announcement earlier today, the FCT Security Committee announced a ban on all forms of street demonstrations and protests in all parts of the federal capital territory, Abuja.
The committee is said to have accused protesters of violating COVID-19 regulations by facilitating public gathering on such a scale and endangering their lives.
The FCT Security Committee has just announced a ban on all #EndSARS street demonstrations, protests, and processions anywhere in Abuja.
The Committee accused protesters of violating COVID-19 guidelines regulating public gatherings, as well as endangering their own lives. pic.twitter.com/rhgvTEFpPq
— Pulse Nigeria (@PulseNigeria247) October 15, 2020
This move is one that not only points at a possible plot to sabotage the protests and bring them to an unsatisfactory end for protesters, but it is also a sad and enraging attempt at silencing a strong, emerging voice of the people.
While it is completely sensible to be aware that COVID-19 still remains a social health risk, and public gatherings are probably not healthy for the populace at this time (even though protesters have been seen wearing masks, sanitising and encouraging themselves to protests safely), that fact is easily defeated by the fact that the cause many are fighting against, the old unit SARS and the recently revamped version SWAT.
The SARS unit has proven to be extremely dangerous and brazenly life-threatening and, so it is important that they are not only disbanded by word of mouth but shown to be scrapped completely and a new police reform process set up and running with undeniable proof of this provided to the public.
Protesters are also demanding justice for the protesters who were killed by armed officers who had no business being at a peaceful protest, to begin with. If the federal government is really listening and paying attention, they would know this. They would have made necessary moves to arrest officers who shot at protesters at Surulere and those at the protests in Ogbomosho where Jimoh Isiaq was killed.
It would be interesting to know how protesters in Abuja respond to this ban. It would be interesting to show the government how much further we are willing to go to realize a country that works for us and prioritizes our lives.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.