- The unrest in Nigeria was taking place long before the incident involving the shooting of peaceful protestors caught the globe's attention recently
- The region is no stranger to unrest and the recent developments are part of a much larger picture
- Briefly.co.za explores why the youth of the country are taking on the government
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Nigeria is currently the most populated country on the continent with 206 million citizens, according to the latest statistics. For the past two weeks, the nation has been experiencing major unrest with youth-led groups protesting police brutality and the lack of employment opportunities.
These protests were unexpected and sudden to the authorities and many feel that it may well be a sign that the political landscape in the country is set to change.
Early in October, rallies sparked in the Edo and Delta states after a video of a man being beaten to death by what is believed to be members of the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Before long, the protests would spread to the nation's economic hub in Lagos, seeing hundreds of activists uniting in the call to disband the police unit.
Soon, thousands of Nigerians would engage in the movement against the trigger-happy federal police unit which has been blamed for hundreds of extrajudicial murders in the 28 years since it was established, reports GZero.
#EndSARS has been trending in South Africa as well as overseas, hot on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general who led a military unit that ruled Nigeria in the 80s, was elected as a civilian five years ago. Buhari has agreed to disband SARS.
While hopes were high that this would diffuse the situation, it has motivated a new band of protesters who face challenges beyond police brutality.
Nigeria is one of the top international oil producers but corruption and mismanagement have left the nation's finances in a disarray. The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened this already delicate situation, seeing government revenue slumping as oil sales plummet.
63% of Nigerian citizens under the age of 30 face unemployment with the youth taking the hardest blow in terms of opportunities. Over half of the region's population are under the age of 30, with the average age being 18 years old.
Young citizens are eager to see change when it comes to economic and social justice and a political party that leans on these policies in the next election would enjoy enviable support.
With security forces keeping watch over Lagos and curfews in place keeping everyone except essential service workers off the street, things in the region are tense.
Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that the situation in Nigeria at the moment has seen scores of people calling for peace and expressing their outrage. Around 1 000 protesters had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate despite authorities announcing an open-ended lockdown in Lagos.
The situation in the capital city has been tense with movements against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (an infamous police force) seeing thousands of Nigerians taking to the streets.
The incident that took place on Tuesday has been slammed by many as nothing short of a massacre with reports of security forces allegedly opening fire on the peaceful demonstrators who had gathered to sing the national anthem, vowing to stay put despite the curfew.
However, the army itself has denied the allegations that it had been ordered to shoot at the unarmed demonstrators, slamming it as fake news. DJ Switch, a popular artist in the country, live-streamed scenes of the violence to 150 000 Instagram viewers, pleading for help.
It is not currently known how many people were fatally injured during the protest. Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had ordered that a shutdown should be imposed in the capital, claiming that the protests had 'degenerated into a monster':
"Criminals and miscreants are now hiding under the umbrella of these protests to unleash mayhem. We will not watch and allow anarchy in our dear state."
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