To freeze accounts of protesters during dialogue season shows plenty of bad faith from government.
The government is deploying strong arm tactics against #EndSARS protesters; and boycotting panels has become an imperative for the moment–if only to send a message across.
Since soldiers stormed the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020 and shot into a crowd of peaceful protesters clamouring for police reforms, there’s been a deliberate attempt by the government and its hired social media lackeys to pin the arson and destruction that followed on the protesters.
I will begin by condemning in the strongest terms possible, the burning of Lagos and other cities across the country by hoodlums. That was barbaric, insane and inexcusable. The police and other law enforcement agencies should round up the arsonists and have them tried for their crimes.
The looting of warehouses and other businesses across the country was also a crime–it’s called theft. Perpetrators should serve jail terms for their crimes.
However, rather than single out the arsonists and looters and have them tried for their offences, I have watched in consternation as certain state governments, the federal government and the police have blamed protesters for the carnage that followed.
The police has banned protests in Lagos and elsewhere across the country, protesters are being chased off streets these days, passports of protesters have been seized, their bank accounts have been frozen and on social media, partisan sycophants are targeting #EndSARS protesters for ridicule, trolling and intimidation.
The end game is to pin crimes of arson and looting on protesters; to blame young people whose only crime is hitting the streets to demand for an end to the extra-judicial killings and brutality that have become the modus operandi of an ill-equipped and poorly motivated police force.
While state and federal governments have acknowledged the rights of people to stage peaceful protests in a democracy, in a stupid round-about way, governments and their social media partisan mob are doing everything to blame protesters for the violence and looting that ensued after the #EndSARS protests.
To set the records straight, the #EndSARS protests were largely peaceful and orderly until thugs were hired by the government to disrupt the protests in Lagos and Abuja and infiltrate the ranks of the protesters.
The looting and arson reached new heights after protesters were chased off the streets by armed soldiers and after curfews had been imposed across the land. Why was it so difficult for security agents to stop the burning and looting during curfew season?
It is the duty of government to secure and protect protesters in a democracy and to ensure that peaceful protests are not hijacked by hoodlums. The constitution also clearly states that security is the primary responsibility of government. Why should a group of unarmed demonstrators be blamed for the break down in law and order after they left the streets?
The burning of police stations in the Orile area of Lagos a day before a curfew was imposed, was a separate incident that had nothing to do with the #EndSARS protests. However, shameless government aides are also trying to pin that on the protesters.
It is the right of everyone to stage protests in a democracy. Protests are very much a part of the democratic process. Guilt-tripping protesters and making it look like they did the wrong thing by hitting the streets ab initio, is silly and stupid from governments and their hare-brained social media sheeple.
Freezing the bank accounts of protesters and seizing their passports, while encouraging these same young people to sit on various judicial panels of inquiry across the states, is double-speak and hypocritical.
The government has shown plenty of bad faith and has singled out protesters for social media attacks, intimidation and ridicule since the protests ended.
It makes no sense for young people to continue to sit on these panels while government agencies deploy instruments of state to muzzle, victimize and intimidate them for protesting.
A boycott of these panels by young protesters has become an imperative until the government shows that it is coming to the dialogue and investigation tables with clean hands–or until the government shows that no one will be punished for simply partaking in a peaceful protest.
*Topnewstv Editor’s opinion is the opinion of an Editor at Topnewstv. It does not represent the views of the Organisation Topnewstv.