IT MAY NOT MATTER, to President Buhari’s government, who is discussing what. Or whether his government is performing, or not. After all, his government has plunged Nigerian into two economic recessions within five years of his administration. What seem to matter to the president, according analysts and observers, is the president’s “dogged rigidity” and “inflexibility”. No matter the national and international discuss and concerns about events in the country under his watch.
Odious political, economic and social events taking place in President Buhari’s administration, within five years of his presidency, in Africa’s most populous nation; also, regarded as the “giant of Africa”, have been troubling. Some of the events, could not be associated with civilized democracy. Not even within emerging democracy in countries in Africa. But manifestly, seen taking place under his watch in Nigeria,
UK parliamentary Petitions Committee debate, Monday, focused on the attack and intimidation of Nigeria’s #EndSARS protesters, who took part in a peaceful protests across the country, against police brutality and bad governance. The protesters, the UK parliament, acknowledged, were legitimate, within democratic tenets, rule of law, and citizens right to freedom of expression.
Taking turns, speaker after speaker, by members of the Petitions Committee, demanded sanctions on Buhari’s government officials and security agents. The sanctions should include visa ban, freezing of assets, and halting funding and training of personnel of Nigerian Police Force, who end up abusing and killing the citizens. The debate was the result of a petition initiated by Silas Ojo, and sponsored by over 200,000 signatories.
Westminster Hall, was the venue of the debate. It kicked off with Theresa Villiers, member of British Conservative Party, who served as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2019 to 2020. Along with others who debated on the petition, they believe that the petitioners have credible case. That the imposition of sanctions or freezing bank accounts of some of protesters are unacceptable.
Strong point made by one of the debaters, Osamor, was that: “The Nigerian government says that it has disbanded SARS, but the corruption and brutality of the security forces continues”. Also, that “Nigerian government’s violence against its own citizens appears to be intensifying”.
And added that: “Nigerian government needs to stop freezing bank accounts of key protesters. It needs to stop illegal detentions of key protesters”. On Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, who stated that the CNN report on Lekki massacre was “fake news”; the minister’s action was described as “undemocratic conduct”.
That Buhari’s government linked the protesters with sponsoring terrorism, thereby freeing their account was troubling. As well as blaming the rise in food prices to the #EndSARS protests, was mere bickering, over known existent issues.
Wendy Morton, MP Aldridge-Brownhills, who is also Minister at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, on behalf of the UK government, said the reports of intimidation of #EndSARS protesters were disturbing. UK government, he said, was in touch with Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari and Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on the protests.
He said: “It is a long-standing practice not to speculate on future sanctions as it could reduce the impact of the designations. We are aware that some protesters have reported facing intimidation and the British High Commissioner in Abuja continues to raise our concerns about intimidation of civil society groups and peaceful protesters with the Nigerian government”.