Nigerian officials in positions of authority suffer from a hangover of its past experience with military rule, a key reason why uniformed personnel sometimes treat civilians with disdain. This was one of many submissions made by Nigerian activist, and co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Movement, Aisha Yesufu on ARISE News Morning Show on Tuesday.
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According to Yesufu who has been a central figure in the #EndSARS protests in Abuja, “We want a nation that works. Enough of the words. All protesters should be released.
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“There’s a whole lot of issues that we need to address. We need to demilitarize Nigeria,” she said.
“There needs to be absolute reform of the Police system.”
Yesufu has accused men of the Nigerian Police of disobeying orders dished out to them by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, the country’s Commander-in-Chief.
Despite the announcement of the dissolution of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), officers of the country’s police still brutalised and in some cases, killed Nigerians who were either protesting or close to where protests were going on.
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“What has happened is that the Inspector General of Police forgot to tell his men and women that SARS has been disbanded and there should be an end to police brutality.
“The President also forgot to tell the police because at the end of the day, yesterday several Nigerians were killed simply because they were protesting or they were close to where the protest was going on after the president, who is supposed to be the Commander-in-Chief, has spoken.
So that means they are not listening to the Inspector General of Police, they are not listening to the Commander-in-Chief. Who then are they listening to?” said Yesufu.
President Buhari had said disbanding SARS was a first step to extensive police reforms by his administration, promising that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts would be brought to justice.
But there seems to be no end in sight to the #EndSARS protests that has rocked Nigeria for more than five days with many more Nigerians joining in the protest to demand an end to police brutality.
In a video that has now gone viral, Yesufu was seen challenging police officers to retaliate killings of their colleagues in the country’s Northeast region rather than attack peaceful protesters, calling them “cowards”.
Speaking further on the Morning Show, Yesufu insinuated that members of the Nigerian Police are frustrated and are looking to vent their anger on innocent civilians.
“They are doing transferred aggression to the public. Their problems are their leaders not the Nigerian public.”
On how she became a central figure in the protests, she explained; “I wasn’t part of the conveners. I only came out because of the attacks (on protesters) I saw. I wondered, ‘how can we do this to our children?’”
According to Yesufu, Nigerian youths don’t want an identified leader regarding the protests because of past experiences where they were betrayed by said leaders.
“Despite no leadership among the protesters, there is strategy, there is cohesion in what they are doing,” she said. “Everyone of them is a leader. It is on the side of the government where there is no leadership.”
Yesufu also stated that government has lost the trust of the country’s youth. “There is no trust. This government has no credibility with young people. They are tired of broken promises.”
Abel Ejikeme, Rita Osakwe