Silence, denial and the characteristic tactics of oppressing #EndSARS protesters

If there was a way to qualify the reaction of the government to the issues that birthed the #EndSARS protests and subsequent developments, it is that the government, often through security apparatuses, seems to have a knack for responding with the very grievance raised.

When people demonstrated against police brutality, what followed were more stories of oppression in the hands of security agents, as many Nigerians took to social media to tell tales of woes. Total disregard for fundamental human rights was also part of the issues raised for the government to address as youth called on the President to give an official directive. Pronouncements from the office of the Inspector General of Police appeared not to carry weight again as there had been similar cases of disbandment in the past three years with little effect on the state of things.

Yet, what Nigerians were met with was prolonged silence from the president and denial of gory incidents. The Nigerian army initially denied taking part in the Lekki shootings and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu also joined the denial train saying there was no casualty. The two parties, however, went back on their words, with the Lagos governor admitting to casualties and the Army claiming they were sent by the government of Lagos.

On the part of the presidency, it took days before a national speech was made and the president only incited more outrage with the avoidance of the #LekkiMassacre altogether.

Such silence, evasion and denial have come to become characteristic of the government and the latest apparent oppression of #EndSARS figures is the latest confirmation of what those at the helm have been consistently accused of.  

A popular figure during the #EndSARS protests, who facilitated the release of many detained youth and protesters, is Modupe “Mochievous” Odele who was stopped on her way out of the country. Her passport was reportedly seized by officers of the Department of State Security Services (SSS).

Five days after, no report is yet to be given by the SSS and Mochievous says she awaits what her offence is for her travel to have been stopped and her passport seized. Rumours of a ‘no-fly list’ being compiled by the government, among other oppressive tactics, have been flying around as some other participants in the protests have expressed their accounts being frozen by the CBN. The ministry of interior has been quick to distance itself from such actions but Nigerians are not surprised.

Every (in)action appears from a playbook that seems all too familiar with how the government responds. From silence to denial and evasiveness, the government continues to be its own bane as frustrations continue for Nigerians who find themselves running circles on perennial issues.  

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