The Nigeria Police must, by now, (Sunday, October 25th, 2020) have poured onto the streets to restore law and order. Law and order went on AWOL (the military language meaning ‘Away Without Official Leave’) in several cities across Nigeria Saturday as those popularly called hoodlums emptied stocks of food items being preserved in government holding facilities. It is interesting that the hoodlums knew that governments had that much in stock in the several cities where looting took place.
Among these are Abuja, nearby Kaduna, nearby Jos, Ilorin, Ibadan and Cross Rivers. Rivers State in the Southsouth had declared curfew and outlawed the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) a day earlier. In Abuja, the police and the bands of youths battled it out for long hours over emptying what is believed to be a holding facility for palliative materials at Area 10. In Ibadan, it was a Senator’s house that was invaded and motorcycles carted away. In Cross Rivers, it was the houses of two senators that were the targets of attack.
The Police High Command in a statement by Frank Mba, Force spokesperson, is putting the entire establishment to work to restore order and it is asking all those involved not to test its will.
Nigerians are still trying to understand what is playing out. Nigerian youths have been protesting peacefully for over two weeks in the major cities. The Federal Government made some concessions which did not satisfy the generality of the protesters and who continued but all of that peacefully except the activities of hoodlums imported to disrupt and give the protests a violent and regional character. The protests eventually took a violent turn on October 20th, 2020 when operatives believed to be of the Nigerian Army entered the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos which had become the epicenter of the protest to carry out what has now become known as the Lekki shooting. Subsequently, the Army denied it was involved although the operatives were donning the camouflage.
The day after the shooting turned into the day of rage as a different set of protesters took to violence, burning selected targets belonging to a key political player. Four days later, it was nationalized in the looting and arson across the country as recounted above.
The narrative from the Federal Government is largely that the #EndSARS protesting youths are being manipulated by local and foreign interests to undermine the government of the day. That narrative appears to be under siege from Saturday’s nationwide looting of specifically the food items meant for palliatives and which speaks more to a crisis of ‘stomach infrastructure’ than the subversion that has been emphasised more. Nobody may also know now what the government would say that the violent variant of the youths have taken over from their peaceful #EndSARS variant and are speaking the language of poverty and alienation.