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Unions in solidarity with youth protests to stop police brutality in Nigeria

22 October, 2020IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Nigeria are supporting the popular youth protests to stop police brutality in the country. The protests have seen thousands of youths take to the streets and are trending on social media under the hashtag #EndSARS.

After weeks of protesting widespread abuses and gross human rights violations, including torture and killings, by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unite, the government of Nigeria disbanded the unit on 11 October. But this did not stop the demonstrations.

The protests have received support from Manchester United football player Idion Ighalo who posted a video on social media saying he is ‘ashamed’ of the government of Nigeria’s sending of soldiers to shoot at protestors at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.

Tolulope Fagbamigbe, a member of the IndustriALL Sub Saharan Africa youth committee from the National Union of Chemical Footwear Rubber and Non Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLANMPE) says:

“The Nigerian youth are clamouring for their voices to be heard by the government on #EndSARS and other demands. On 20 October, the lights went off at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos when soldiers moved in with armoured trucks and opened fire on unarmed protestors, killing many people on the spot.

"The situation has been handled carelessly by the government and is boiling over. If the government wants to nip the situation in the bud they must proceed with steps towards progressive goals. If this is not done, there are fears the situation will degenerate into further chaos.”

IndustriALL Vice President, Issa Aremu said:

 “It is understandable that the current protests reflect the serial historic and contemporary atrocities by the Nigerian police. It is inspiring that the Presidential Panel on Police Reforms agreed to the five-point demand of the protestors against police brutality, namely halting the use of force against protestors and unconditional release of arrested citizens, justice for the victims of police brutality, including payment of compensation, and the psychological evaluation of police officers including increasing their salaries.”

 On employment, the situation of Nigerian youth is dire. According to the National Bureau of Statistics the unemployment rate is over 27 per cent, meaning 27.7 million youth are unemployed while the underemployment rate is over 28 per cent. Unemployment has been worsened by the closure of factories. To move to decent job creation, Aremu says unions must campaign for a “developmental state that creates decent jobs for the youth.”

IndustriALL affiliates in Nigeria are the Automobile, Boatyards, Transport, Equipment and Allied Workers Union (AUTOBATE), National Union of Chemical Footwear Rubber and Non Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLANMPE), National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), National Union of Textile Garment Tailoring Workers (NUTGTW), Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and Steel and Engineering Workers of Nigeria (SEWUN).