Aisha Yesufu
Nigerian activist Aisha Yesufu alongside other protesters in Abuja, Nigeria at the #EndSARS protests that has been going on. Photo: Twitter/AishaYesufu
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Nigerian government accused of hiring hoodlums to attack protesters

The Nigerian government, in a coordinated effort, has allegedly paid hoodlums to attack #EndSARS protesters in Lagos, Abuja and other cities in the country. The attacks have seen by protesters as a move to cause confusion and discredit the protests. The hoodlums brought different weapons including knives and axes to disrupt the protests.

The Nigerian government is in an unfamiliar territory as it grapples with the ongoing #EndSARS protests. The protests  are unlike anything else the government has confronted. Young Nigerians who make up a bulk of the protests have been victims of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which has been accused of killing, kidnapping and extorting young Nigerian citizens. 

On the 14th of October, a week after the protests began hoodlums attacked protestors, and damaged their cars  in Abuja, the country’s capital and Lagos. The hoodlums who came in a bus normally used to transport members of the public, carried machetes, axes and huge sticks looking for protesters while the member of the Nigerian Police looked on.

According to an eyewitness report, protesters wanted to push back but the hoodlums were being protected by the police. The hoodlums who attacked the protesters at Alausa, the seat of the Lagos State government, are said to be used by various political landlords in Lagos during elections. 

Read: Nigeria’s #EndSARS protests are a warning to an older generation in power 

As protesters regrouped, they were encouraged to record everything and take pictures. Documenting the protests has been one of the ways Nigerians have been fighting back. The protesters in Abuja who were attacked yesterday (Oct, 14) apprehended some of the hoodlums and handed them over to the police. The protesters then marched on to the National Assembly.

The Nigerian government through the Inspector General of Police announced a change of name from SARS to Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) in an effort to calm down protestors. This however wasn’t the solution the protestors were looking for. The protesters who have refused to back down continue to organise themselves and provide their own security.

A political commentator Onye Nkuzi wrote on Twitter, “The Nigerian political elite will sacrifice everything, including Nigeria’s long-term growth prospects, to keep Nigeria the way it is. This thing is not about “economics”, it is about “power”. They have little time for “economics”, the language they understand is “power”.”

As protests continue and the Nigerian government fails to address the issues brought up, more grievances are added to the list of problems Nigerians want an end to, which also includes the jumbo salary of lawmakers. 

Read: How young, queer Nigerians use Twitter to shape identity and fight homophobia

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