Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
Let’s start here:
On the 20th of October, 2020, armed men of the Nigerian army allegedly shot at peaceful protesters in the recent #EndSars movement. It is estimated that at least twelve people were killed in Lagos, and hundred more were injured around Nigeria.
In light of this unfortunate and avoidable incident, we decided to take a look at all the times Nigeria has killed innocent, peaceful protesters.
1) The Women’s Market Rebellion of 1929.
The Aba market women rebellion of 1929 was a largely peaceful protest against the colonial government’s plan to tax women. Inspired by a woman called Nwanyereuwa, and strengthened by the popular Oloko trio, [mostly] market women executed a strategic anti-colonial revolt. The aim was to address social, political and economic grievances. The women wanted more participation in government, removal of direct taxation of women, and better overall treatment.
The women employed methods like “sitting on a man”, or donning male traditional attires to express their displeasures. In some cases, this resulted in [some] destruction of properties. Especially properties of warrant chiefs who were the direct link to the colonial masters.
To restore normalcy, British officers were brought in. By the time order was restored, at least 50 [protesting] women were shot dead and 50 others were injured. As a result of the unfamiliar tactics [to the British] used by the women, and the casualties, an enquiry was called for. The name “Aba Women’s Riots of 1929” is how this enquiry was named in the British colonial records leading to the misinformation that the event was a riot.
2) The Iva Valley Massacre of 1949.
In 1949, striking miners demanding for better wages and living conditions in Enugu were shot dead by British police.
In the 1940s, Enugu had become Nigeria’s biggest coal producer and was called the coal capital of West Africa. Two major mines were responsible for this – Iva valley and Obwetti mine.
The life of a miner was dangerous. They worked 6 days a week underground with low oxygen, low morale, and low pay. To further worsen things, Europeans who worked on the surface and did lesser work were better off than the miners.
Increased resentment led the miners to a strike action which was rejected by the colonial officers. The miners were sacked and immediately asked to leave the premise after which they refused. British police were called to remove the striking, peaceful miners from the site.
Not to be intimidated by the police, the miners chanted songs of solidarity. The British officers led by Superintendent of Police, F.S Philips opened fire on them. He would go on to say that the miners were indulging in a war dance and looked menacing. 21 miners were killed on that day and were mostly shot in the back.
The protest increased agitations and united a large swathe of Nigerians for the first time, and this helped push our final claim for independence from colonial rule.
3) Occupy Nigeria Protest of 2012.
In the Occupy Nigeria protests against fuel subsidy removal, at least 12 people died. Two people were reportedly shot dead when the police fired into the crowd in an attempt to disperse peaceful protesters.
4) IPOB Protest of 2015/16.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) supporters were allegedly shot at and killed by the Nigerian military between August 2015 and September of 2016. The group and its supporters were protesting for secession and restoration of the Republic of Biafra. The most notable incident was in December of 2015 where 11 protesters reportedly lost their lives.
6) Shiite Protest In 2019.
In July of 2019, the Nigerian police allegedly fired at peaceful protesters of the Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in the capital city of Abuja.
The protest was to demand urgent medical care for the detained leader of the Shiites, El Zakzaky, and to also request his release. Reportedly, eleven protesters, one journalist, and a police officer were killed. Additionally, scores of protesters were either injured or arrested in the aftermath of the protests.
7) Lekki Massacre of 2020.
On the night of October 2020, peaceful and unarmed protesters were allegedly shot and killed at the Lekki toll gate by Nigerian soldiers. The protest was a social movement to call for an end to police brutality in Nigeria. A rogue unit [The Special Anti-robbery Squad] notorious for killing, harassing, and stealing from young Nigerians was the focus of the protests.
According to reports, in the evening, light was allegedly cut from the tollgate, and the CCTV cameras were removed. It is believed that the aim was to reduce video evidence of the massacre.
In one of the clips that emerged from the site, protesters can be heard singing the Nigerian anthem and crying as they are shot at. We owe it to them to never forget the incident of 20/10/2020.
Notable mention is the Agbekoya Farmer’s Revolt of the late 1960s where farmers protesting against taxation were shot and killed by policemen.
We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about how to unfuck yourself when the Nigerian government moves mad. Check back every weekday by 10am for more Zikoko Citizen explainers.