#EndSARS: Social Media Fuels Second Wave as Nigerian Youths Plan Strategy Changes
Over a month after the #LekkiMassacre which effectively took the wind out of the sail of the #EndSARS protests, the campaign against police brutality is back on the Twitter trendlist in a spectacular resurgence.
The Second wave was triggered by the legal action of the Nigeria Police Force requesting a Federal High Court in Abuja to issue an order to stop the state judicial panels of inquiry set up by governors to investigate reported cases of police brutality and human rights infringement by SARS officers.
Following public backlash over the matter, the Nigeria Police through the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu stated that it had issued a probe querying the lawsuit filed by the force. The lawsuit has now been withdrawn.
However, many pending allegations against operatives of the already disbanded rogue unit of the force still remain unresolved due to the impunity enjoyed by officers who have perpetrated crimes relating to extortion, violence and even outright murder.
Nigerian youths, who were the most targeted set of people by SARS especially due to their tech-savvy and sometimes sophisticated appearance, were irked by what passed as an obvious attempt by the Nigeria Police Force to pervert the course of justice for #EndSARS victims through its latest lawsuit.
Another factor which has reignited the anger among the youth is the freezing of bank accounts belonging to a number of #EndSARS campaigners.
One of the affected campaigners of the #EndSARS movement, Victor Israel – who offered medical aid to protesters claimed that the Nigerian government had blocked all his bank accounts for more than 2 months.
All these have led to a rebirth of the #EndSARS campaign, which had almost completely fizzled out following the #LekkiMassacre as well as the government’s other clampdown efforts.
As before, social media – particularly Twitter is driving the online protests against police violence and indemnity in Nigeria. But there could be certain shifts in technological approach such as the use of anonymous accounts and crowdfunding through crypto platforms.
#EndSARS 2nd Wave: A Change of Strategy?
The second wave of the anti-police brutality protests is set to be coordinated with certain strategy adjustments. While still heavily fuelled by social media, physical #EndSARS protests will be executed with reviewed rules of engagement.
Recall that the first wave of the #EndSARS protests which spanned the first week of October till the third week was sustained via digital strategies including social media and petitions.
No Overnight Protests
A big lesson learnt during that time was how the night protest by youths at the Lekki toll gate played a part in Nigerian security operatives unleashing live bullets on unarmed citizens.
The switching off of lights and removal of cameras contributed to the natural darkness that “concealed” the attacks which took place that night. To avoid a repeat of that incident, #EndSARS campaigners have determined not to stage overnight protests this time around.
Had Obianuju Catherine “DJ Switch” not bravely recorded the incident via her Instagram live, there could have been no valid footage of the #LekkiMassacre that night.
The idea behind “no overnight protests” is of course to ensure that any attempts by security operatives to attack protesters will have to be done in broad daylight, which is highly unlikely.
However, if this were to happen it would be easier for people to capture the event via live video recordings and present as future evidence to pursue justice.
Fewer Protest Locations
The second wave of #EndSARS street protests will be staged at one or two locations in each state of the country, according to social media reports. The shift to this system was adopted towards the last phase of the first wave in order to distinguish genuine peaceful protesters from hoodlums and thugs.
Miscreants were able to mix up with protesters due to the scattered arrangement in certain states, perpetrating acts of arson and vandalism the government quickly attributed to #EndSARS protests.
There also seems to be a plan to organise protests during the fast-approaching festive season when many people will be in their homes.
There are reports that the second wave of #EndSARS street protests will commence on 7th December at designated locations across states including Lagos, FCT and Rivers.
Demands this time include the unfreezing of #EndSARS accounts, release of unlawfully detained protesters and justice for victims of the #LekkiMassacre.
Although the first wave of #EndSARS protests ended on a tragic note, the desire for police reforms and justice for victims of police brutality is spurring another set of protests among Nigerian youths.
Technology is again driving the movement and just how the second wave of protests unfolds remains to be seen.
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