Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Socialist Party of Nigeria on Wednesday described what it called “carnage as Buhari’s military and police shoot and kill unarmed peaceful protesters.”
In a statement received by Today News Africa in Washington DC the party said: “The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the brutal repression on peaceful #EndSARS protesters by soldiers and police acting on the instructions of the Buhari regime and the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). While the actual numbers of those killed is still being collated, it is clear that the regime have caused a bloodbath in Lekki and other parts of Lagos while trying to brutally quell the protests. To aid this crime against humanity, report has it that government officials first switched off the floodlight and CCTV cameras before shooting sporadically at peaceful protesters at Lekki toll gate at 7 pm on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, in what has been labelled ‘Black Tuesday’. We condemn the killings and demand that President Buhari and Governor Sanwoolu resign immediately for allowing this carnage to happen. Failure to do this would further confirm that the Buhari government is simply a despotic regime only draped in democratic apparel.
“We also demand the removal of the Inspector General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff. We demand arrest and prosecution of the soldiers and policemen responsible for these killings. We also call for an immediate halt to killings and shooting which has continued. We also call on the NLC and TUC, pro-masses organizations and professional groups like the NBA and others to stoutly condemn these killings and be prepared to mount a spirited campaign to bring the brutal regime to justice.
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“Now as violence spreads across Lagos with arson and attacks on government facilities and properties linked to members of the capitalist elite, there is a grave danger that ethnic clashes could happen. Since yesterday, there have been a few reported incidents of Yoruba youth attacking Hausa traders and vice versa. The SPN calls for the unity of the workers and oppressed youth whether of Southern or Northern extraction. Across communities, we urge for the setting up of multi-ethnic and multi-religious self-defense communal committees to guard against attacks on people of other ethnic group or faith and ensure that this movement which started as a collective struggle led by the youth against state repression and inequality does not descend into a pogrom.
“It is tragic that the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) by their criminal silence and policy of class collaboration with the capitalist state have created mass suffering and the condition for these killings. The calling off of the planned September 28 general strike by the rightwing labour leaders (NLC and TUC) was a betrayal because they entered into an agreement with the government to accelerate the exploitation and looting through the endorsement of deregulation and privatization. A serious general strike would have placed the working class at the leadership of the mass movement the anger has generated and giving it a more revolutionary direction. It is scandalous that the Ayuba Wabba-led NLC leadership and Olaleye-led TUC leadership remained quiet since the mass protest broke out and treacherously refused to join the mass movement. For over 10 days that the daily protests lasted, they failed to intervene on the side of the protesters. Even when thugs were deployed against peaceful protesters killing and maiming many across the country, not a simple press statement condemning the attacks came from the headquarters of the trade union centres. And even now, many hours after tragic incident of yesterday at Lekki and other areas in Lagos, nothing has been heard from the leadership of the trade unions. This is the time for Nigerian workers to kick out all the right-wing reactionary and pro-capitalist labour leaders and as part of the rebuilding efforts to rescue the trade unions from the present state of bankruptcy.
“The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) calls on the rank and file military and police to refuse to shoot at protesters. SPN calls on the rank and file military and police officers to join the mass protest. The struggle to liberate Nigerians is also the struggle to end the suffering of the military and police officers and their families. The anti-people Buhari-led government, big business, the corrupt Generals and Police Chiefs are responsible for the low wage, terrible housing barracks, and poor working conditions of the rank and file police and military officers. Any police officers and military that shoot at protesters should henceforth be arrested and brought to justice including the military generals and police chiefs who issue orders to shoot.
“The fundamental human right to protest is inalienable and guaranteed by section 39 and 40 of 1999 constitution. The Buhari-led notorious government and the different state governors have always infringed on these rights through brutal repression and attacks. Members of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) were brutalized on September 10, 2020 in Lagos when peacefully protesting electricity tariff hike, petrol price hike and undemocratic deregistration of political parties.
“The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) stands with the protesters across the country in their struggle to end police brutality and poverty. Nigerian youths and Nigerians in general have a right to reject unemployment that is presently at 27.1% and youth unemployment at 35%; the rising cost of living and poverty wage earned by workers; high prices of petroleum products based on fraudulent subsidy regime, sabotage of public refineries and deregulated oil sector; massive homelessness that has 17 million housing units deficits; lack of healthcare based on ramshackle hospitals and lack of hospitals in many areas; lack of education based on poor funding that has led to 13 million out-of-school children; decrepit infrastructure that is worse than what obtain in war-torn countries; poor electricity supply based on fraudulent estimated billing and exploitative high tariff; gluttonous stealing of our collective resources through mind-boggling jumbo salaries and allowances by about 17,000 political office holders that presenting cost the country over N1.2 trillion annually; selling off our collective patrimony through privatization and deregulation to a privileged few; outright looting of public funds through contract system.
“October 3, 2020 shooting of an unarmed man in Delta state sparked off mass protest across the country on October 8, 2020. Since 1992 the notorious SARS and police have brutalized and killed Nigerians while government after government endorses it. The mass protest of mostly young people with a demand to ENDSARS also reflects the anger against the mass poverty inflicted on most Nigerians for decades.
“Government response to the mass protest is worse than the SARS and police brutality and has escalated an already tense situation. On October 12, 2020, the Area C Police Command in Surulere shot at peaceful protesters killing one person and brutalizing many; we saw footage of DSS agents and police officers escorting armed thugs to attack peaceful protesters; government-sponsored armed thugs unleashed attacks on protesters in Oshogbo killing and injuring many; on October 10, police shot at peaceful protesters in Ogbomoso in Oyo state killing Jimoh Isiaka and injuring several others; government-sponsored thugs also attacked unarmed peaceful protesters in Benin City on October 16, 2020, killing two and injuring some. It is these brutal responses across the federation that fueled mass anger that led to the unguarded attack on police, local government, and prisons facilities by some youths in Orile, Ajegunle in Lagos and Benin City, etc.
“These brutal attacks happened in Abuja when armed military and police personnel were mobilized into the streets to shoot at peaceful protesters in Abuja, Benin, and several places on Monday, October 19 and Tuesday, October 20, 2020. The Nigeria Military had earlier threatened to unleash ‘Operation Crocodile Smile VI’ and true to type the Buhari-led government and the Military top brass unleashed it in Lagos and Abuja. The brutal killing of unarmed peaceful protesters is an integral part of capitalist rule in order to repress and suppress dissent.
“SPN calls on Nigerians to embrace a socialist alternative through a workers and poor government that will afford the workers and poor masses the opportunity to take their destiny into their hands, control and manage production and services to meet the needs of all as against the profit avarice of a privileged few as we presently have it under capitalism. In the absence of a socialist society, capitalist barbarism will continue to fester.”