PRESS STATEMENT: TERRORISING #ENDSARS PROTESTERS IS A SUBVERSION OF DEMOCRACY, AND UNACCEPTABLE!
By Dagga Tolar, Spokesperson, Movement for A Socialist Alternative (MSA)
The Movement for A Socialist Alternative (MSA) strongly condemns the visitation of state terror on selected #EndSARS protesters. We view the act of retribution against protesters, by President Buhari’s administration, as a systematic assault on democratic rights.
An administration committed to democracy would have welcomed the protest and commence necessary reforms of the police. Rather, the regime is demonstrating that it is intolerant of protest, employing the military to shoot and kill peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza for daring to challenge police brutality.
The conduct and the brutal relationship of the police with the Nigerian masses only serve as rehearsals to enable it to use the same force against the working masses, when it organises to take on the ruling elites, challenging the misgovernance and mismanagement of Nigeria’s wealth and resources. The working class cannot remain neutral in the face of the victimisation of legitimate protesters.
The federal government has frozen accounts of selected protesters, placed some on travel bans, seized a protester’s international passport, and arrested some in their homes. For example, a combined team of the Airforce and the Police arrested Eromosele Adene in his home. He is reportedly sick, and the authorities have denied him access to his lawyer or a doctor. All these are acts of state terror that brings to one’s imagination the despicable days of military dictatorship, which Nigerian working masses frontally fought, and paying the ultimate price to force the military Generals to reluctantly hand over power to the civilian wing of the ruling elites.
Without a doubt, the Buhari regime has shown that it is more proactive in suppressing protests against the ills of governance than correcting those ills. The action of the government does not portray a government that will correct abuses by state authorities when such abuses, as in present cases, are employed at the highest level of government to make citizens rue the assertion of their human and democratic rights of peaceful protest.
We attest to the fact that the right to protest is a democratic right, and essential to civil rule as opposed to insinuations in certain quarters that protests are not necessary. President Buhari’s regime expects citizens to accept the level of poverty in the country, mass unemployment, poverty wages and unpaid wages, and the alarming level of inflation without any form of complaint. What other reason could warrant state terrorisation of #EndSARS protesters making justified complaints than a “don’t complain” policy of the regime?
The recent actions of President Buhari’s regime render completely unbelievable its conflicting accounts of the military attack and killing of protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza on October 20. The regime has given a different narrative that even denied that an invasion or attack occurred. While the involvement of the military was immediately denied, the same military has acknowledged its involvement; although it is still prevaricating on the extent of such involvement. That the military is not currently being questioned as to who invited them or gave the order to shoot and kill can only mean that the order to shoot protesters was given at the highest level of the military hierarchy and government.
The Buhari regime has been emboldened by its successes in dispersing protesters with the use of the military and it is therefore going on further to launch an assault on basic democratic rights and principles. The inability of the regime to address the raging economic recession, unemployment and inflation has turned it into a government conducted by threats and repression. We hold that the Nigerian workers, youth and masses must refuse to be conquered in their own country.
A long, bloodied struggle of Nigerian working masses against military dictatorship made possible the handover of power to the civilian wing of the ruling elites, who have since employed their grip on power to appropriate for themselves and their cronies the wealth and resources of the country at the detriment of the needs of the working masses. This is why the regime is victimising #EndSARS protesters, to ensure that the working masses are not in any way encouraged to take on the regime on its terms, and struggle against the continued deterioration of the living standards of the working people and poor in this country.
Workers cannot stand aside and ignore this surreptitious erosion of the democratic rights of the working masses and youths. The NLC and TUC cannot be neutral; they must condemn the descent of the Buhari regime into a full-blown dictatorship. The Labour Movement must call for an end to the present victimisation of #EndSARS protesters. And as well reject the ongoing attempt to criminalize the right to dissent and peaceful protest and be willing to take the necessary action of mobilizing the working masses and even declare a strike action as a warning to the regime that workers will not accept any attack against their democratic rights.
Also, there is the need to call on the working masses to heed and take up the call by youths for the formation of a political party that would take up the task of transforming Nigeria. Importantly too is the need to heed the call of the youths to organize a political party that is distinct in character and programme from the APC and PDP. This cry for a party of the youth must be interpreted to mean the necessity for a party of the working masses, a party for the millions of working people, poor and youths as opposed to a party for members of the billionaire club. While not opposed to a new formation along this direction, the MSA calls on youth and working people to join the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), which puts forward a programme of ending the rule of capital, and nationalization of the banking, oil, agricultural and other major sectors of the economy as a means of ending poverty.