#Endsars, Any Hope for Nigerian Youths?

Today marks one year after youths gathered at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos to protest police brutality, which led to some killings while others were injured after armed men opened fire on them.

Youths and campaigners of the #Endsars protest in various parts of the country are today commemorating lives lost and lamenting that justice has not been brought to book.

In Abuja, the social activist Omoyele Sowore has led some youths from the Unity Fountain, marching across some of its major streets with placards of different inscriptions chanting solidarity songs.

Sowore, who addressed reporters during the rally, said the government had not shown any remorse; one year after the protests rather, it has continued to suppress the citizens.

He said security operatives who opened fire on peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos on October 20, 2020, have not been brought to book.

On his part, Pelumi Olajengbesi, a lawyer present at the rally, expressed displeasure over the panel of inquiry which was set up by the federal government to investigate cases of human rights violations in Abuja, saying it is yet to conclude its findings after one year.

From the Unity Fountain, the youths marched towards the National Assembly but were quickly intercepted by a team of security operatives who mounted barricades.

Meanwhile, in Lagos, youths held a memorial car procession at the Lekki tollgate, admits warning by security operatives. Punch gathered that a protester who identified himself as AK said, “I was shot. They shot us. I saw three young people on the floor. We were shot. Government is lying.”
Another protester said there is nothing to show that the banned Special Anti-Robbery Squad is no longer operating, stressing that one year after the #EndSARS protest, youths were still “extorted” and “brutalised” in the country.

“There is still SaRS. They still brutalise us. We are here to tell the police to stop the brutality and extortion,” he said.

As youths commemorated the Endsars, it is pertinent to look back at the demands made which included, compensations for the families of those who died under police brutality, the release of arrested protesters and an increase in the salaries and allowances of police officers, psychological evaluation of officers of the disbanded SARS before redeploying them into other units.

What are the hopes of youths who gathered day and night to air their grievances against police brutality and bad governance while some lost their lives, with so many injured? Recall that the federal government had denied that no life was lost, and arms men never fired any shot on peaceful protesters. Recall also that international bodies had then drawn the federal government attention to the need to meet the demands of youth.

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