Despite the announced dissolution of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) by the IGP, the EndSARS protest across the country is growing and waxing stronger by the day.
The continuation of protest despite the new development and the failure of every government efforts to quell the agitations have sparked speculations that the government might resort to internet shutdown as a final solution.
The fight against police brutality
The protest which began a week ago was ignited when a video of a fatal police shooting of a Nigerian man sparked outrage and a public call for the total dissolution of the controversial police unit on twitter.
In the first 3 days, #EndSARS was the No 1 trending topic on Twitter worldwide, amassing nearly 5 million tweets and more than 100 million engagements.
Outrage over the video pooled large numbers of Nigerians including celebrities, politicians, and activists calling for justice using hashtags such as #EndSars, #WarOnSars, and #SARSMUSTEND.
The campaign quickly moved from social media to the streets of Nigeria, with thousands of protesters trouping out to demand an end to the rogue SARS unit and end to police brutality.
Although the IGP has announced a dissolution of the unit and installed a new unit called SWAT, the protesters are not satisfied. This was fueled by the fact that there have been previous announcements about the scrapping of the SARS only for it to be resurrected again. Moreover, the dissolution of the unit was greeted by the shooting of protesters which led to more loss of lives.
Although the protest was peaceful there have several clashes with armed personnel. About 10 people have been reported to have been killed since the beginning of the protest, According to Amnesty International.
With protest still growing, speculations are flying that the next tactic the government might try would be to douse Social Media – the fuel of the protest by shutting down the internet.
Although Nigeria has never employed internet shutdown, other African countries like Chad, South Sudan, Cameroun among others have used internet censorship to clampdown on protests.
Between 2016 and 2018, the authorities in Chad, South Sudan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Somalia shut down the internet in their respective countries.
Speaking on the speculation of internet shut down, Paradigm Initiatives media and program manager Adegoke Adeboye said it is not “impossible” for the Nigerian Government to shut down the internet but hoped it will not get to that point.
“We all know the role that the Internet is playing in the protest and we can already imagine that someone has proposed this to the government,” Adegoke said.
Victor Asemota, a tech enthusiast cautioned that if the government makes the mistake of shutting down the internet it will spark stronger and renewed protests.
“There are many reasons for Nigerians to protest and SARS is one of them. If they make the mistake of shutting down the Internet, many others will remember those other reasons and start new protests. I have seen this strategy backfire in Togo. I don’t think they will do it.”Victor Asemota
He is not alone as Semira, a Nigerian youth expressed that the street will not be big enough as all the Nigerian youths tweeting on twitter will join the protest.
How to bypass internet shut down
Although there is no concrete evidence that the government is planning a shutdown, there are several ways you can bypass that challenge if it comes down to it. Below is a list of ways you can try.
Use of VPN
VPN is one of the best options to circumvent internet lockdown. A VPN can let you access these services by establishing a connection with a VPN server in a different country.
To use VPN, Download a VPN application like Open VPN or ProtonVPN, Log on to http://vpngate.com, Download a profile, Open the VPN app then Install and connect with the profile to bypass an internet shutdown in your area.
Offline messaging options on Twitter and Facebook
The offline messaging option of both Twitter and Facebook can keep you connected when there is no network access. The application is free and information can be posted by sending text messages.
On Twitter, you can set up your SMS Tweet notifications using the appropriate language settings under ‘Settings’.
Off grid apps
During an internet blackout, off-grid apps are unaffected. They use a mesh network to let users text and share videos and images via Bluetooth.
These apps allow communication within a range of up to 100 – 200 meters and also works when 2 or more smartphones are within range of each other. These apps are ‘Firechat’, ‘The Serval Mesh’, ‘Vojer’, ‘Bridgefy’, ‘Signal Offline Messenger’, ‘Briar’, ‘Vojer’, ‘Two Way’ and ‘ZombieChat’.
Dark Web Browser
Dark web browsers are browsers with similar functions to regular browsers like Chrome and firefox. However, they have the ability to mask users’ IP addresses thereby allowing them to bypass internet bans.
Examples of Dark Web browsers include TOR and CyberGhost. To use the browser you simply need to download and install them.
So, there you have it 4 sure ways you can start connected in case of an internet shutdown.