The Buhari administration appears to be pursuing a policy of state vengeance against Nigerian youths linked with the October #EndSARS protests, that drew global attention to an atrocious and repressive unit of the Nigerian police.
While President Buhari had voiced out some understanding of the deep-seated anger of youths against the police and made moves to reform the institution, officials are now embarking on another course of action that only brought back memories of 1978, the Ali-Must-Go Protest.
This was under the military administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo, when students revolted against the increase in feeding and accommodation fees in the universities.
After the nationwide protest in April 1978, with several students killed, the military regime responded by rusticating student leaders. It also sacked university dons and officials deemed to have supported the protest.
Vice Chancellors were also sacked from their posts as the government stuck to the new regime of fees that sparked the protest.
We are witnessing the same reaction from agents of the state against, ‘leaders’ of the leaderless #EndSARS protest.
First, the immigration seized at the airport, the passport of a lawyer, who provided legal services to protesters detained by the police. The last time this practice was rife was under the military regime of General Abacha.
And now, the CBN secretly went to court to procure an order to freeze for 90 days the accounts of 20 people linked with the protest.
The CBN got the order, the same 20 October, when soldiers attacked unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.
The last time we did a reality check, we are for God’s sake in a democratic regime, the hallmarks of which are the rights to dissent, protest and free speech.
We thought the Nigerian leaders accept these rights as inalienable, from their statements in the heat of the protests.
We are thus shocked by the moves by agents of the state to punish the Nigerian youths.
We are even more appalled that government is taking the punitive steps judging by the stories of atrocities by the disbanded police unit, coming out of the various judicial enquiries. The stories further justified the #EndSARS protest.
Dear President Buhari, Nigeria cannot make progress if the state apparatus tries to stifle the young ones, in expressing their views and protesting.
It is their right.
Let us not make zombies of our youths, as this country belongs to them. They have no where else to go.
We are thus calling on the government to call to order the CBN, the Immigration Department and the DSS from embarking on a policy of vengeance against the assumed masterminds of #EndSARS.
Let no attempt be made to confuse the protesters with the opportunistic hoodlums and bandits, who seized on the protest to unleash an orgy of looting and destruction in the country.