Nigeria is a country with massive oil and mineral wealth, a developed technology sector, and a proliferation of billionaires such as Aliko Dangote. Yet, the masses of this country by and large do not benefit from any of this wealth due to the continued existence of comprador capitalism, the auctioning off of resources which rightfully belong to the people to foreign imperialist corporations headquartered in China, Japan, Europe and North America. The only big beneficiaries of this wealth are Nigerian compradors and foreign shareholders.
The police in this country are much maligned and despised by the masses, like in many countries across the Third World, and internal colonies in the metropole. The simple fact that the police in Nigeria, like the masses, are African, does not change their function as servants of big bureaucrat capital and the imperialists. The masses have risen up in outrage against a special police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS. SARS is especially hated by the masses of semi-proletarian and proletarian youth, as it routinely targets them for special abuse, including torture and arbitrary murder. SARS mirrors the behavior of police all over the world in oppressing youth who they perceive do not dress or behave in an appropriate fashion. Even the bourgeois “human rights” organization Amnesty International has highlighted several dozen instances of gross abuse from SARS units. The report collects accounts from the semi-proletarian/proletarian masses of various crimes committed:
In March 2017, 23-year-old Miracle was arrested and detained by SARS officers in Neni, Anambra State, southeast Nigeria, accused of the theft of a laptop. He was tortured and given hardly any food during the 40 days he was in detention before he was charged and brought before a court.
“…their leader directed them to go and hang me. They took me to the back of the hall and tied me with ropes. Then they started using all manner of items to beat me, including machetes, sticks, inflicting me with all kinds of injuries. One of the officers used an exhaust pipe to hit me on my teeth, breaking my teeth. I was left on that hanger for more than three hours…”
In October 2018, 24-year-old Sunday Bang, an amateur boxer was arrested in his home in Abuja, by SARS officers and accused of robbery. He was held in detention for 5 weeks without access to family, lawyers or medical care – and was not charged in court. While in SARS detention, he suffered bone fractures and other injuries due to torture and other ill treatment.
“No circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as a justification of torture. In many cases the victims are the poor and vulnerable, easy targets for law enforcement officers whose responsibility it is to protect them,” said Osai Ojigho.
These crimes fueled the rise of the #EndSARS movement, however, like movements against police abuse and brutality all over the world in which the masses participate, the underlying sentiment is not simple rage against the police, but rage against the comprador state which makes their lives a living hell, auctions off their wealth, steals what little income they have through high costs, fees and taxes, and of which the police are just the most visible force. The masses have the right to a decent standard of living free from state harassment, all of the masses. Imperialist BBC News published this account from a Nigerian working youth:
Young people who are well-off and whose lifestyle does not conform to the norms in this conservative country are often labelled “Yahoo-Boys” – a slang term for internet scammers. This is especially true of those who work with laptops, while there are accounts of neighbours who have called security officials on young people who work from home. “My estate once called police officers to come pick me up because I was always at home and turning the generator on and living well,” Bright Echefu, a 22-year-old website developer, who joined the protest in Abuja, told the BBC.
Criminalizing and abusing youth who do not fit the box assigned by the capitalist system is another standard that sparks rebellion from the US to the Caribbean to Africa. Criminalizing the expressions, the tattoos, the jewelry, the piercings and hairstyles, of working class youth, is a capitalist sport, an exercise in attempted mind and thought and behavior control. The masses in these uprisings continue to demonstrate the Maoist principle “it is right to rebel” in practice. They are the future, and are aiding, loving and supporting each other in their ongoing struggle against the State, and its police and military. All readers should investigate ways to demonstrate material support with the masses of Nigerian youth in their struggle, and continue to build the struggle here at home.