Nigerians have taken to the streets again today to protest the unveiling of a new police unit to replace an agency that was disbanded following public outcry over its alleged corruption, violence and human rights abuses.
On Tuesday, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu announced that the new unit, SWAT would carry out the duties which were done by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
But protesters insist this new group is merely just a change of name without a thorough reform of the police. Many are using the hashtag #EndSWAT on Twitter, where rallies have been organized, to oppose the new unit.
Protesters have reiterated their demands for a complete overhaul of the police force, which include the immediate release of all protesters arrested, justice for all deceased victims of police brutality, psychological evaluation of all security officers and the increase of the salary of police officers so that they are adequately compensated for their jobs.
The #EndSWAT is the number one trending topic on the social media platform with many citizens expressing their views on social media.
Despite the rain in Lagos, many citizens are making arrangements for umbrellas and raincoats as expressed in this tweet by @Jollz
“If you can come out, please do. We are making more arrangements for umbrellas, ponchos, and raincoats. Food, drinks, etc. We will do our best to take care of each other while forcing the government to take finally start taking care of us. Please come out. #EndSWAT #EndSARS”
Many believe the move by the country’s youths can provide a Nigeria where everyone has equal rights.
The Youth Democratic Party Of Nigeria with Twitter handle @OfficialYDP_NG said:
“Do you believe we the Youths have a voice!!! Do you believe we the youths can change this country where everyone has equal rights?? If you do Rt extensively.”
Another user @tholuinspire said; “If they don’t listen, we shall shut down the entire economy. Did we die during Covid19 lockdown? No! Airports, Toll gates, Banks, Seaports… Everywhere that would hit them more, we softly attack We apply pressure! #ReformNigeria #EndSWAT #EndPoliceBrutalityNigeria”
@Ayomituntide_ was also one of those who kicked against the new unit. “From frying pan to fire. We don’t want swat. #EndSWAT #EndSWAT”
Some suspect that the government is trying to divide the protesters and have called for solidarity. Aisha Yesufu, an activist and a famous face during the widespread protests, urged the youth not to “fall” for the government’s “divide and rule” tactics.
Others are already calling for ways to use the momentum built by the EndSARS and EndSWAT campaigns to reenergize Nigerian politics and put young people in places of power in 2023, when Nigerians next go to the polls in the presidential elections.
Abel Ejikeme, Rita Osakwe