I got to know about police brutality when I was a teenager in secondary school on July 16, 1981. That was the day an overzealous policeman snuffed life out of one of the shining stars in Nigeria, Dele Ndubuisi Udoh simply called, Dele Udoh.
Dele Udoh was an American based Nigerian athlete who loved his country so much that he could not wait for a honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Angela Udoh whom he married two days before leaving the United States for Nigeria. He came to represent Nigeria in one of the African Sports festivals in Lagos. He was a star sprinter in the United States of America.
Is it a crime to make one’s country proud? No. But in the case of Dele Udoh, it was a crime.
It was late in the night, Udoh encountered a policeman at a checkpoint at Ojuelegba, Surulere, Lagos an argument ensued between the star athlete and the policeman.
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According to the ugly and fearful story, the policeman could not demobilize Udoh by shooting him in the leg or handcuffed him. A young man who was not armed, the policeman corked his gun pointed it into the ear of Udoh, pulled the trigger and blew off his head, his brain was shattered.
Another one I can still remember vividly was a Unilag student, Akintunde Ojo who was killed by trigger happy policeman during a protest over increase in meal subsidy that triggered Ali Must Go riot in 1978. Ali was the Minister of Education during General Olusegun Obasanjo first regime when he was forced to become the Head of State after the former Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed was assassinated by Col. Buka Suka Dimka in February 13, 1976. The same Ahmadu Ali later became the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Ali Must Go protests led to full-blown riots at the time Segun Okeowo was the Students Union President.
As a teenager, I got to know names life Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana who was probably still a UNILAG student, Braithwaite (SAN) and many other leading human right activists participated in the historic riots.
Fela Anikulapo’s aged mother was thrown from upstairs by some ‘unknown soldiers’, her legs got broken in the process. That was what led to her untimely death. She was an activist as a young woman and the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria.
Only God knows how many times Fela was beaten to a state of stupor by the police, for no reasons other than fighting for the common man.
Not many can still remember The Apo Six, these are youths comprising five young boys and a lady coming from a night club on June 7, 2005. Among the six was a couple, Ifeanyi Ozor and his heartthrob, Augustina Arebu. The police who took them for armed robbers without any weapons found on them could not arrest them but gunned them down in their prime in cold blood. Although they were sentenced to death by the court of law, only God knows if the sentence had been carried out.
The Dawodu brothers in Lagos, the list is endless, police brutality in Nigeria started from time immemorial. Why would they not kill and maim when some of them are on drugs and smoke Indian hemps. What do you expect? Any police reform without banning them from smoking hemp, drugs and alcoholic drinks is not yet a reform.
It was unfortunate that the ugly incident started under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the IGP Mohammed Adamu whom I doff my hat for. for his leadership qualities.
What actually triggered off #EndSARS protests was the wicked and insensitivity of the Federal Government to the plight of the people when they jerked up the price of petrol and electricity tariff same day at a time when Nigerians were groaning under the hardship of Corona Virus (COVID-19).
The cup of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was full to the brim hence the uprising against them in the past few days.
Nigerians have made their points, students have made their points, Nigerian youths have made their points and our rulers are jittery. The government has bowed to the agitations of the youths, at least for now.
The youths have made their points to the extent that never will this government or governments to come, take Nigerians for granted any longer.
The protests across the country are already taking its tolls on the lives of Nigerians, properties and the economy. I hope the purpose of the protests is to make life better and life more abundant for the common man. But what was supposed to be peaceful protests have turned bloody. Deaths were recorded in Abuja, Lagos, Osogbo that I know!
One of the most painful deaths was the news of the death of a pregnant woman who was reportedly died on her way to delivery because the road was blocked by protesters. Who knows, the baby could be one of the presidents Nigeria will ever have. He died even before he/she came out of her mother’s womb with the mother. What a gruesome death!
What the youths are fighting against is already happening to the next generations before them with the postponement of NECO exams and indefinite closure of schools in Lagos as a result of the protests. Are the protests meant to help or truncate their future?
Who bears the brunt of these protests? The poor among us, of course! Ordinary Nigerians are suffering since these protests started because they could no longer fend for their daily bread. Our leaders are still enjoying all the benefits life and Nigeria could offer at the comfort of their homes.
I remember the Reggae superstar, Bob Marley in one of his songs, “He who fights and run away lives to fight another day.”
Give the government two weeks or a month ultimatum to implement what they promised, if after this period nothing is done, then the protests can come in a new dimension.
I hereby call on my colleagues in the struggles to sheath their swords, at least for now to allow for a roundtable discussion.
It is better to be a living hero than being a dead hero, the people hailing the protests when it started are already murmuring.
Anyone protesting after all the demands have been met is like someone who said he would go and carry his arms and ammunition after the war has ended.
If it degenerates beyond this level the purpose for these struggles would have been defeated.
These protests are already turning against the masses we are fighting for, to avoid what would turn to become the tragedy of human lives, it is time to leave the stage now “when the ovation is loudest.”
A word is enough for the wise!
God bless Nigeria!
Note: This write-up is a personal opinion of the writer; it did not reflect the position of SOJ WORLDWIDE ONLINE NEWS, www.sojworldnews.com
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