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Amnesty International Offers Safety Tips To Nigeria’s #EndSARS Protesters2 minutes read

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Thousands of protesters across Nigeria have taken to the streets to demand the disbandment of a rogue unit of the country’s police, the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).

The protesters accused SARS, a unit created to stop armed robberies, of robbing and brutalising innocent civillians.

Following the use of force, including tear gas, on the protesters by security agencies in the country, human rights group, Amnesty International, has given participants some tips on safely attending the anti-brutality protests.

AI in a tweet on Saturday said, “Know that police officers are responsible for upholding the law and protecting the rights of all members of society, not picking and choosing who they want to protect and who they do not.

“Everyone has the right to carry their opinion on to the streets

“You have a right to document the protest – the authorities can’t keep you from filming or writing down what police actions, police brutality, or injuries are inflected on protestors.”

The rights group offered the following tips:

  • Be sure to wear sneakers – this will help you stay comfortable as you stand on your feet all day, but also allow you to move quickly if needed, to escape.
  • Be mindful of the accessories you have on – loose, dangling jewellery may easily be grabbed. #EndSARS
  • Before heading to a protest, be mindful of the clothing and accessories you wear. Be sure to wear clothing that covers all your skin – this will protect you not only from the sun and rain but also from tear gas if used against peaceful protestors.
  • Charge your phone, carry a spare battery or power bank. Keep important information on a piece of paper, for example, your lawyer mobile number and family member. Make sure you have enough credit on your phone.”

What to bring to protest

  • Water, water, water and more water. This will keep you hydrated and a bottle with a squirt top will allow you to wash off your skin or eyes if needed.
  • Watch, paper, pen for accurate documentation of events, police brutality, injuries.
  • Your personal safety should always be a priority while taking pictures and videos in a peaceful assembly or sending text messages and web updates.”

Dealing with teargas

  • Be sure to stay calm. Panicking increases irritation.
  • Breathe slowly and remember it is only temporary.
  • See it coming, and monitor if police are putting gas masks.”

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Anthony Joshua and Odion Ighalo Weigh in on Violence in Nigeria as Soldiers Open Fire on Protesters

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Sports stars of Nigerian heritage have taken to social media to condemn the brutal crackdown on protesters in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos and other cities following days of protests in the country.

Since October 8, protesters have been carrying out peaceful demonstrations across the nation and social media calling for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police.

However, the protests assumed a violent dimension last week when thugs attacked peaceful protesters in Lagos and Abuja. And on Tuesday 20 October, the violence escalated with 43 protesters and six policemen reportedly killed. There were also reported cases of arson and looting.

Two-time unified heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua posted on social media that he was praying for peace in the country and doing his best to support victims. The WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion, whose full name is Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, was born in Watford, England to Nigerian parents.

In a video uploaded on his Twitter handle, he said:

“This is a message to the people of Nigeria. Even though i’m no there with you in the physical, we’ve been making some tangible efforts to try and support your protests on the ground.

“I know it’s getting to a stage where things are heating up and tensions are high, but in my prayers at night, i’m praying for peace and positivity, because i know that the people on ground aren’t trying to be heard for their own benefit. It’s for the benefit of the next generation.

“Me myself, i’ve had to take time to understand the issues that people in Nigeria are facing. Why sometimes i’m silent is because i’ve learnt that my silence can’t be misquoted. So me and my family and my close friends have been trying to do something tangible things and we’re organizing many care packages for the people on the ground. So even if i’m in my training camp and we’re in London, we can support you guys from a distance.

“December the 12th, i’m competing and after that i’m going to try and make some plans to come to Nigeria to meet my friends and family and meet some of the people trying to make long lasting change. But for sure, from London and far and wide, your voices are definitely being heard.

“So keep on pushing, keep on striving. You have my support through and through. My ears and my eyes have been opened. I understand the issues that you guys are facing and for some people what i’m going to do will be enough. And for some people it may not be enough. But together as we hold hands and push for a better change, we all move forward in a positive direction. So keep on pushing. Your voices have definitely landed in my ears. And you definitely have my support.”

It was announced last week that Joshua would make a mandatory title defense against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev on December 12 at the O2 Arena in London.

However, Manchester United and former Nigeria international Odion Ighalo was particularly scathing of the authorities, condemning the violence and urging the UK government, the UN and world leaders to act.

Also speakng in a video posted on his Twitter handle, he said:

“I’m sad and heartbroken and i don’t know where to start from. I’m not the type of guy that talks about politics but i can’t keep quiet anymore about what is going on back home in Nigeria.

“I would say to the Nigerian government, you guys are a shame to the world for killing your own citizens. Sending military to the streets to kill unarmed protesters because they are protesting for their rights is uncalled for.

“Today 20th October 2020, you people will be remembered in history as the first (civilian) government that sent the military into cities to start killing its own citizens.

“I am ashamed of this government. We are tired of you guys and we can’t take this anymore. I’m calling on the UK government, calling on leaders all over the world, to please see what is going on in Nigeria and help us. The government is killing its own citizens. We are calling on you guys and the UN to see to this matter. And i want to call on my brothers and sisters back home to remain safe. Stay indoors and don’t come out because this government are killers and they will keep killing if the world does not talk about this.”

Ighalo posted the video after Manchester United won 2-1 at the Parc des Princes in Paris against Paris Saint-Germain in their opening Group H match of the UEFA Champions League. He was an unused substitute.

In the Lekki area of Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, armed soldiers allegedly shot sporadically at protesters, killing no fewer than seven persons in the process. The soldiers had been deployed to enforce a curfew announced by the Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Many protesters were also said to have sustained bullet wounds as a result of the attack that occurred suddenly after the giant video billboard on a tollgate where the protesters have been demonstrating for days and the streetlights within the area were switched off.

The Nigerian government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired military general, had announced the scrapping of the SARS unit as well as a raft of reforms over a week ago. Officials called for the demonstrations to be suspended to give the authorities time to make good on their pledges. However the move failed as protesters responded that they had no trust or faith in the government.

Around half of Nigeria’s 200 million population is estimated to live in extreme poverty. Unemployment is widespread among the youth who have been reportedly targeted for arbitrary arrests, extortion, abduction, torture and extra-judicial killings by the security forces, especially the much loathed and dreaded SARS.

Africa’s biggest oil producer is currently facing a recession as the fall in crude prices sparked by the coronavirus pandemic has battered government finances creating much social unrest.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) estimates the Nigerian economy could have lost an estimated N700 billion (over $1.7 billion) to the #EndSARS protests in the last 12 days.

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#EndSARS Protests: Nigeria Loses N700 Billion During Demonstrations – LCCI

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The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), says the Nigerian economy could have lost an estimated N700 billion to the #EndSARS protests in the last 12 days. The protest originated about two weeks ago on the issue of police brutality and extrajudicial killings. It has grown into a social crusade against bad governance.

A statement from the President of LCCI, Toki Mabogunje, states on the negative impact of the #EndSARS demonstrations on business activities across the country.

The statement is titled, ‘LCCI press release on the economic implications of EndSARS protest’.

It further explained that “The LCCI appreciates the value of citizens’ engagement and the demand for accountability which the EndSARS protest essentially represents.

“These are in consonance with democratic norms. They also form vital ingredients for good governance.

“Over the past twelve days, economic activities have been crippled in most parts of the country and has been particularly profound in the urban areas.

“The Nigerian economy has suffered an estimated Seven Hundred Billion Naira (₦700 billion) loss in the past twelve days,” Mabogunje adds.

She noted that the #EndSARS demonstrations had been impactful and profound, adding that it had the power of the people and the potency of the energy of the youth to bring about change.

According to the LCCI president, the protests have achieved some significant outcomes and has reawakened the need to reform the shortcomings in Nigeria’s political governance.

She recommended that the protesters dialogue with the government.

This, according to Mobogunje, is necessary to reduce the massive disruptions, blockades and barricades around our major cities and interstate highways.

Mobogunje urged the government to commit to rapid improvement in governance quality and accountability in the police and public sector. And urgently grant audience to the leadership of the #EndSARS to deliberate on the way forward and to agree on an action plan for the delivery of agreed outcomes.

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#ENDSARS protest and mental health

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