#EndSARS: SPN Commends Young People over the dissolution of SARS
We condemn the repression and killings of protesters! We demand removal of the CP of Lagos and Oyo state and the IGP now!
Struggle Must Continue Against Police Brutality and For Free Public Education and Decent Jobs
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) commends Nigerian youths for their resilience and steadfastness in the struggle against the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad which has forced Buhari-led government to announce the dissolution of this deadly police unit. The young people must see the announcement of the dissolution of SARS as a victory. But they must not rest on their oars as the dissolution of SARS does not mean an end to police brutality which is perpetrated by all units of police and other security agencies. The protesting youths should demand democratic control of the police and all security agencies by community people. Therefore, we call for a consistent campaign against police brutality. This should be supported not only by young people but also by the working class organisations like Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).
While welcoming the dissolution of SARS, the SPN rejects the plan to redeploy the operatives of SARS to other police units without first of all fishing out the criminally minded ones through a special panel of enquiry that includes representatives of young people, trade unions and civil society and their prosecution. Not doing this would mean letting loose unrepentant murderers in a new guise.
Also importantly, the SPN condemns the attacks and killings of protesters which have continued in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country despite the dissolution of SARS. We demand justice and compensation for all the victims of police brutality and their families. We also demand the release of all arrested protesters. It shows the viciousness and savagery of the police and, most tellingly, the hollowness of the Federal Government’s pronounced dissolution of SARS that protesters were still killed and injured during peaceful protests against the brutality of SARS. While sympathizing with families of those who have been killed or injured, the SPN strongly calls for the arrest and prosecution of all police officers that were involved in the shooting dead of Jimoh Isiaka in the protest in Ogbomoso as well as those who killed protesters in Surulere Lagos and other places.
There can be no subterfuge to sweep the matter under the carpet under the guise of investigating so-called immediate and remote causes of the violence. This would be a cheap lie to buy time and we will have none of it. In any case, most of the incidents were captured in videos by Nigerians using their smartphones and they are on the internet already. We demand public announcement of the names of the police officers, including commanding officers, responsible for these attacks and killings and their immediate arrest and prosecution. In addition, the SPN call for the removal of the Commissioners of Police in Oyo and Lagos States as well as the immediate sack of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for sanctioning by their acts of omission or commission these attacks and killings of citizens. This is the least that can be done by the Buhari government in this tensed period to show compassion to protesters who have lost their lives and their grieving families; that is if the regime still has any modicum of compassion left.
We of the SPN have consistently called for a police whose administration and operation are subject to the democratic control of the community people in order to ensure judicious use of personnel and arms at the disposal of the police. We also call for democratic rights of the rank and file police operatives to form a union to defend the welfare and working conditions. Hence, we demand a living wage and better working conditions for the rank and file policemen and women.
One of the important lessons the young people must learn from this struggle is a huge potential to force the government to grant some concessions. The reported three-month delay in raising electricity prices is an example of just how wary the government is of popular revolt. So, now is the time to act. Therefore we call on young people’s organisations, including NANS and community youth groups, to join or initiate campaigns that fight for adequate funding of education and health care, decent jobs and N30,000 unemployment allowance. Apposite to such a campaign is the need to force the government to meet the legitimate demands of ASUU and other staff unions in order for universities to be reopened.
It is instructive that the #EndSARS protest broke out shortly after the betrayal by labour leaders (NLC and TUC) of the struggle against hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff and other anti-poor policies imposed on Nigerians by the Buhari-led government. Despite the lack of leadership and organisational structure, Nigerian youths have resorted to taking their destiny in their hands after obvious capitulation and lack of leadership from the trade union leadership.
The massive turnout of the #EndSARS shows the depth of anger against Buhari government and the thieving ruling elite, something that would have also been manifested if the mass actions and strike scheduled to start on September 28 had been held. We hold that the labour leaders are not prepared to fight because they don’t have an alternative programme to neo-liberal policies of the Buhari government. This explains why they support electricity privatization and fuel deregulation despite these having proved to be monumental failures and anti-poor. We call on workers to demand a fighting leadership and democratic trade unionism. If the current labour leaders cannot fight for workers and masses interest, they should be removed and replaced by ones who are prepared to seriously struggle.
By and large, it should be noted that the police is an apparatus of oppression under a capitalist government which is meant to subjugate the working people and the poor to the dictate and exploitation by the capitalist ruling elite. In other words, they are originally meant to unleash state terror and repress ordinary people in the guise of maintaining law and order. It is the failure of the iniquitous, profit-first capitalist system to guarantee basic needs like education, healthcare, housing, food, decent jobs and other basic needs for the vast majority, its creation of social inequality and mass looting of the capitalist ruling elite which are the root causes responsible for crimes. So to end police brutality as well as economic inequality, we need to end capitalism and fight for a socialist society where collective wealth and resources will be democratically managed by the working class to meet the needs of all as a means of achieving equity. To achieve this, the working masses need to build a mass working peoples’ political party that is democratically run, without careerism and fighting for a socialist programme. So, we call on young people and workers as well as trade unions and pro-masses organizations to join the SPN in order to build it as a mass party to defeat capitalist elites and their iniquitous system.
Acting National Chairperson
E-mail: [email protected]