SPN SUPPORTS #ENDSARS PROTESTS
SPN DEMANDS IMMEDIATE REOPENING OF ALL CASES OF ASSAULTS, EXTORTION, ILLEGAL ARREST, DETENTION AND EXTRAJUDICAL KILLING OF NIGERIANS BY ALL POLICE AND SECURITY FORMATIONS AND PROSECUTION OF ALL OFFICERS FOUND CULPABLE
FOR A POLICE UNION AND THE RIGHTS OF THE RANK AND FILE TO PARTICIPATE IN DECISION MAKING AND CONTROL OF THE POLICE
THE POLICE AND DSS ARE INSTRUMENTS OF CLASS OPPRESSION. REFORMS CAN ONLY LIMIT BUT CANNOT END REPRESSION. FIGHT FOR A SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM!
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) wholeheartedly supports the protests across some states in the country to demand the disbandment of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS). SARS is largely a notorious arm of the police which regularly conduct extra-judicial killing of Nigerians, especially young people, aside from serial extortion, illegal arrest and detention as well a multitude of other assaults of the fundamental rights of citizens.
We support the call for the disbandment of SARS. We also call for the dissolution of the Department of State Service (DSS) which is an organisation set up primarily to spy on activists, socialists and students and trade unionists on behalf of the oppressive government and adds no value to the maintenance of peace in society. We also demand a police union in order to give the rank and file of police a platform to organise to demand better pay, equipment and welfare conditions. The existence of such a union can also give the police rank and file the confidence to disobey any order that will lead to a violation of democratic rights of citizens.
However, at this stage, we must quickly add that no matter how much the police are reformed; it cannot as presently constituted cease to be an instrument of class oppression. Therefore the only way to fully end police repression is by fighting to end capitalism and enthroning workers and poor people’s government armed with socialist programmes. In such a new socialist society wherein the material motivation for crime – which are poverty, homelessness, joblessness and destitution – have been abolished, the police as presently constituted will not be needed. Rather all will be required to keep law and order is a citizen force, armed only when necessary, and under the direct democratic control and management of workers and communities.
We disagree with the Inspector General of Police that the SARS can only be reformed and it cannot be disbanded. The truth is that since the emergence of SARS, neither armed robbery nor kidnapping has subsided across the country. So far the primary motivation and material basis of crime in society which is the high rate of poverty and destitution, homeless, hunger and joblessness remains and are even intensifying, violent crimes will continue to be the order of the day no matter how much the police and other repressive apparatuses of the state are armed. The phenomenon of cybercrime popularly called “YahooYahoo”, whose illicitly wealthy practitioners have been turned to easy targets by men of SARS and other police bodies in their own criminal pursuit to get a cut of the cake, is partly a clear response to the terrible situation facing young people. They suffer a lack of educational and decent job opportunities in an unequal society where a few capitalist elite, including corrupt political office holders, live in outrageous opulence while the massive majority wallow in untold poverty and misery.
It is no more news that at least 80% of Nigeria’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of about 1 percent of the population made up of the Dangotes, Otedolas, local and multinational corporations and banks as well as the overpaid and corrupt capitalist politicians in political offices. Consequently, not only has Nigeria become the poverty capital of the world but according to a 2018 report of the World Bank, Nigeria also has the largest poor population in sub-Saharan Africa with 79 million extremely poor (Punch, 8th October 2020).
The latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) now shows the social and the economic climate is getting worse and young people are the most affected. The Vanguard newspaper of Thursday 8th October 2020 reports recent NBS findings which show that, in August, households in Nigeria suffered at least 67% decline in income. This is on top of increasing job losses. Millions lost their jobs between April and August – the period of the COVID-19 lockdown. The job losses affect both the formal and informal sectors. But the effect in the informal sector where many young people try to make a living appears to be the most tragic. Against this kind of cheerless background of the Nigerian economy and poverty situation, crime will inevitably increase. Arming the police including repressive bodies like SARS in order to combat rising crime instead of taking urgent and immediate steps to begin to reconfigure the economy away from profit but to meet the needs of the mass majority for gainful employment, food, shelter, education and sustenance is nothing short of pouring spittle over a raging fire in a dry field.
Therefore to end police repression and also violent crimes in our society requires not just reforms but ultimately a revolutionary change in the way society is run. This does not mean we should not fight for reforms. For instance, the SPN fully recognises that if SARS is disbanded or the police ranks and file are allowed to have a union, this will be a huge step forward. However, when we look at other parts of the world where not only do police have unions, but also are compelled by law to carry body cameras etc., we can see that this has not really made the statistics of police brutality and killings to go down. Rather, racially motivated killings and all forms of police brutality are actually going up in the US and a number of other so-called advanced countries. The recent racially-motivated killing of George Floyd in the United States of America is a good example of why reforms alone would not do it but a complete overhaul of society through revolutionary transformation is necessary to stop repression. This means trying to win any concessions we can get now, but also utilising every victory to remobilise and build a mass movement whose final aim would be to put an end to the material basis for crime and repression which is capitalism.
We must replace the outmoded and unequal capitalist system with a socialist society under which the key sectors of the economy (oil and gas, mines, energy, big farm estates etc.) would be publicly owned and under the democratic control and management of the workers and communities. It is only under such a system that public education and healthcare can be made free, housing and decent jobs provided for all with a living wage – that is, the abolition of want and penury which are the material bases for crime and violence in society. In such a society, repressive police will not be needed. Rather all that would suffice to maintain law and order is a citizens force, armed only when necessary, and under the direct control of the workers and communities and all its officers elected and recallable.
Acting National Chairperson