Two Years After #EndSARS

EndSARS United reiterates its demand for justice

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The EndSARS United organized a series of activities to commemorate the second anniversary of the rebellion, which was drowned in blood on 20.10.20, and reiterate the demands for justice for EndSARS victims, which it made last year.

Speaking at on behalf of the united front at a press conference it organized on 19 October, Ayoyinka Oni, who is the Lagos state chair of the African Action Congress (AAC), said:

“Our demands include free all incarcerated over #EndSARS by the state and compensate them for jailing them unjustly; adequate compensation for people wounded and families of people killed; full implementation of reports of judicial panels of inquiry; open trial of all security personnel involved in the massacre and also public apology for repression by government.”

The peak of the week-long EndSARS Memorial 2.0 was 20 October, marking the second anniversary of the Lekki Tollgate Massacre. Hundreds of young people and EndSARS activists thronged the event. These included Omoyele Sowore, National Chairperson of the AAC; Yemi Adamelokun, Executive Director of Enough Is Enough (EiE); and Folarin “Falz” Falana, a popular musician.

Once again, the police disrupted the peaceful protests with the use of tear gas after a few hours and arrested some protesters. But this traditionally draconian action of the state cannot extinguish the EndSARS United’s quest for justice.

The Coalition for Revolution (CORE) and other CSOs that played active roles in the EndSARS protests such as EiE, Rivers Civil Society Coalition (RIVCSO), September Seventh Movement in Jos, and the Moses Oisakede Leadership Foundation in Edo state, started the united front last year to mark the rebellion’s first anniversary, and demand justice for EndSARS victims.

Even before then, the Take It Back movement aligned to the AAC had taken up the task of identifying and helping several people arrested for their participation in the rebellion. They helped to bring up almost all the cases that came to public attention within the first year of the EndSARS protests. These included the well-publicized case of Kemisola Ogunniyi, a teenager who was arbitrarily arrested in the dying days of the protests and ended up delivering her baby in prison.

Since the formation of the EndSARS United, CORE affiliates and other groups in the united front have been able to build synergy in taking up the cases of several EndSARS detainees, with the help of progressive lawyers and bodies of lawyers. The steps they have collectively taken include a visitation to prisons in Lagos state, where the activists and lawyers met with 134 detainees. 

We have made some progress in securing the release of at least a dozen detainees. But much more still has to be done. There are probably over 300 EndSARS detainees in prisons spread across the country, with most of them being in Lagos and Abuja. Having specific figures is difficult because they are being held with false charges such as robbery and assault.

One state where we have specific figures despite attempts to demonize the detainees is Oyo state. The CORE Oyo state chapter, which was at the heart of the EndSARS protests in Ibadan, has closely monitored the situation and put in serious efforts to get them released.

Justice for EndSARS victims does not end with freeing those in detention. Security forces killed at least a hundred people in Lagos alone. We can glean this much from the response of Mr John Obafunwa, Chief Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the EndSARS. 

Many more were maimed. These included people who lost their limbs, some of whom were present at the 19 October 2022 EndSARS press conference. Millions of Nigerians also remain traumatized from the brutish acts of the state in repressing the rebellion.

Police brutality, which ignited the rebellion, has also not stopped. According to Aljazeera and Global Rights, an international NGO, not less than 164 people were extra-judicially murdered between January and September 2021, alone!

The foregoing issues informed the 6-point EndSARS United’s demands, which SWL fully endorses and calls on the trade unions, radical left, and civil society movement to support:

  1. Recognition of brutal killings and public apology by government
  2. Release of every person incarcerated over the #endsars protest
  3. Compensation for all #endsars victims & families of those killed
  4. Full implementation of reports of the judicial panels of inquiry
  5. Prosecution of all security personnel indicted in the Lekki massacre
  6. Full implementation of the #endsars #5for5 demands

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