Youth Rights Campaign (YRC), a body of youth that participated actively in the #EndSARS movement, has said the #EndSARS protests should not have ended, given that the Nigerian government has ‘shown no sign’ of meeting the demands of the protesters
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Francis Nwapa, the National Secretary of YRC, said the new attempts by the government to further muzzle the democratic rights of the people show why the youth need to continue to organise.
He said people must have the socio-political consciousness that protest is a right and must make demands to reclaim the country.
“What happened during the #EndSARS protest is just a tip of the iceberg.
“It is either we fix Nigeria or we die trying, that is what has been keeping us going. The mood should be that we want to reclaim the country, the country belongs to us. All resources in the country belong to us and not a few rich,” he said.
“An average Nigerian should be inspired by those that died during the protest, those martyrs that laid down their lives and the desire ultimately is to transform Nigeria into a socialist state,” Mr Nwapa said.
YRC was formed by the Democratic Socialist Movement, with the aim of transforming Nigeria into a socialist state.
One of the demands of the group is that the commanding heights of the economy should be placed under the control of workers and not for individuals to make profit at the expense of the society.
Hassan-Taiwo Soweto, one of the members of the group, disclosed that YRC will be marching out on Saturday, alongside other #EndSARS protesters, to continue with the protests.
“It is very clear that the demands of the #EndSARS protest which is an end to police brutality has not been met.
“In many ways, we have seen increases in police and army brutality, some of which have manifested in the manner innocent people are picked from their streets and being arraigned as rioters responsible for the carnage that occurred.
“All of these are clear indications that none of the #EndSARS aspirations will be met,” he said.
Mr Soweto said the youth killed and injured during the protest deserve justice, including those that died at the October 20 Lekki Shooting.
“The state itself is motivating the youth by its actions and inactions since the first leg of the #EndSARS protest by its attempt to cover up the murder at Lekki and the police brutality we are seeing, many youth are outraged and encouraged to continue the struggle.
“The more the government keeps suppressing us and denying us basic rights, including education, the more the reason for the struggle,” he said.
He said to avoid the ugly incidents that occurred during the first leg of the #EndSARS protest, the youth must have a leadership.
“This time, the struggle has to be waged in a clear manner. It has to be organized because given the lack of a democratic leadership for the #EndSARS protest, that has given from for all kinds of charlatans to speak on behalf of the people.
“What the youth fear about leadership is the question of a leadership that betrays the youth, but not having a leadership also in a moment like this can be a major letdown for the movement,” he said.
The #EndSARS protest, a campaign against police brutality and extra-judicial killings in Nigeria, was held in many states and lasted for about two weeks.
Although the government conceded to some of the demands of the protesters, including disbanding the SARS, the protests continued.
The protest, which was largely peaceful, was later hijacked by hoodlums who attacked protesters and destroyed public properties.
Peaceful protesters who gathered at Lekki toll gate on October 20 were also shot by men of the Nigerian army, causing the death of some while others were injured.
Speaking on the Lekki shooting, the group said it is aware of the coverups of the state government and how the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the government is not independent enough to get justice.
“We were not in the least surprised when the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), operators of the Lekki tollgate, on Tuesday 3 November 2020 at the sitting of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State government claimed that after all, it’s widely-anticipated CCTV had no recording of the shooting incident from 8pm because the cameras stopped working from that time on the ill-fated night of Tuesday 20 October 2020.”
The group demanded that the judicial panel excises the investigation of Lekki shooting from its terms of reference so that it can concentrate on investigating the atrocities of the defunct SARS over which it appears to wield unchallenged authority.
Part of the demands of the group is a socialist Nigeria where “inequality is ended and the vast majority of the people have access to quality public education and healthcare, living wage, decent jobs, unemployment benefit benefits, improved living standards and a decent life.”
“What stands us out is that we want the struggle to end police brutality to be linked with the building of a mass movement to also end unemployment, chronic education and health underfunding, poverty in the midst of abundance, homelessness, casualization, all anti-poor policies like fuel price hike, Value Added Tax (VAT) and electricity tariff hike, obscene salaries and allowances of political office holders, wanton corruption, rampart inequality, and ultimately for a socialist Nigeria,” the group said.
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