On June 12, 1993 in Nigeria the first election was held since the ending of the 1983 military coup that halted the Second Republic of the country.
It was deemed one of the fairest and widely accepted elections, electing Moshood Kashimawo Abiola into presidency in Nigeria. It was a day of celebration across the country, as it is every year. However, this year proved quite different. Instead of celebrations, the world is seeing Nigeria in the depths of protests.
For days leading up to Democracy Day, activist groups have been organizing protests across the country. Their anger and drive is not unwarranted: there is mass outcry for protection as the country undergoes a detrimental security crisis. In the northern parts of Nigeria bandits run wild, kidnapping over 700 people, including children, from schools. It’s been reported that many of these armed groups have killed a multitude of soldiers and civilians, with little to no intervention from the current president of Nigeria.
As if that wasn’t enough to concern the people of Nigeria, next came a ban on Twitter. On June 2, 2021 a tweet from the current sitting president Muhammadu Buhari was deleted for violating the abusive behavior policy Twitter upholds. The tweet implied the young people of Nigeria were unable to remember the results of the civil war the country once faced, stating “Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through war, will treat them in the language they understand,” in his now removed tweet.
On June 4th, it was determined by the government that Twitter would be “suspended indefinitely,” despite being widely popular across the country. The government was said to have made the move to push the ban because of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence,” as stated by the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
Despite President Buhari making a televised address to Nigeria Saturday in which he addressed the ongoing violence in the country and promised to “soon bring some of these culprits to justice,” activists still lead groups to gatherings in protest of bad governance and lack of security. According to reporters on the ground in Lagos hundreds gathered to protest, with people ready to march and wave their ‘Buhari Must Go’ banners as early as 7 a.m. in some places.
As we’ve heard many times in places around the world over the past two years, reports of police being deployed as a precautionary measure, but in large quantities were made. What started as a peaceful protest for pro-democracy measures quickly escalated into an altercation with the police. Tear gas was deployed and live rounds were shot into the air at the Lagos protest, and it was reported by the news outlet Al Jazeera that journalists were being harassed.
In Abuja, an almost identical scene played out: a tear gas dispersion technique, and the harassment of journalists. According to the Agence France-Presse reporters on the ground, police said that the protests were “unauthorized.” AFP also reported the confiscating and destroying of phones from protestors. No casualties or critical injuries have been reported as of this time.