With Nigerians not backing down on protests for the reform of the police force and total disbandment of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad(SARS), there are speculations that the government might shut down the internet.
Six days ago, a video of a fatal police shooting of a Nigerian man, sparked outrage and reignited a public call for the total dissolution of the controversial police unit in the country.
The video caused large numbers of Nigerians including celebrities, politicians, and activists calling for justice using hashtags such as #WarOnSars, #EndSars, and #SarsAlert #SARSMUSTEND.
With celebrities adding their voice to the #EndSARS campaign, it jumped to the top of global trend on Twitter and drew international support from celebrities and soccer stars like Kanye West, Trey Songs, Mesut Ozil and Marcus Rashford.
Nigeria’s superstars, Wizkid and Falz who are also part of this generation of protesters, have been physically present in London and Abuja protests.
The protests against the police have largely been organized on social media, fuelled by citizens sharing their experiences of police abuses and videos of brutal incidents, including the beating of civilians and the firing of live ammunition at protesters.
The campaign moved from social media to the streets of Nigeria, with protesters demanding an end to the rogue police unit and a wholesome police reform.
However, the protesters are not relenting despite the dissolution of the notorious police squad but have continued to protest noting the government’s ineffectual promises of police reforms and investigations in the past.
The campaigners have also been able to organise funds to cater to their welfares during protest using digital payment platforms.
But there are now speculations that the Nigerian government may to shut the protesters up by shutting down the internet since surreptitious move to divide the protesters have failed.
Active protesters on and off social media have said unknown numbers have been calling to threaten them to back off.
Moreover, Feminist Coalition, a pro-#EndSARS women group, said its bank account has been deactivated.
“For demanding an end to police brutality we are now under attack,” the group said on Twitter on Tuesday.
Nigerians are however speculating that the government in order to mute the campaign may clampdown on social media like its counterparts in other African countries have done in the past.
For instance, Chad shut down the internet in early 2018 despite the international media campaigns against the deliberate clamp down on free speech in the landlocked African country.
“Chad is among the worst states in the world regarding respect of digital rights,” Internet Without Borders said in December 2018.
But Chad is not the only African country where the government’s censorship of digital rights was used to stifle freedom of speech.
Between 2016 and 2018, the authorities in South Sudan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Somalia also shut down the internet in their respective countries.
While Zimbabwe, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have forced internet shutdown in 2019, Tanzania, Uganda, and a host of North African countries have stringent subsisting rules for the use of social media and digital publishing.
Nigeria almost moved in that direction in 2019 as law that sought to punish individuals behind certain social media posts which was proposed to the Nigerian Senate in 2017 passed first reading.
Massive media backlash prevented lawmakers from passing the bill into law.
Campaigners also argued that the #EndSARS was missing on trend table on Twitter despite thousands of people tweeting the hashtag.
Some of them said the government may have tampered with the hashtag. That belief led to the birth of #SARSMustEnd.
Paradigm Initiatives media and program manager Adegoke Adeboye said it is not “impossible” for the Nigerian Government to shut down the internet but hoped it will not get to that point.
“The government’s response to the protest has been double-faced, “ Adegoke said.
“While saying all the nice things openly, it is secretly attacking private businesses that has lent their platforms to support the protest.”
He said the clampdown on Flutterwave might be the first step to mute the active participation of citizens in the protest.
“We all know the role that the Internet is playing in the protest and we can already imagine that someone has proposed this to the government,” Adegoke said.
Adegoke further stated that it is better Nigerians are prepared than to be caught unawares.
“In April last year, PIN developed some guidelines to help citizens stay online should the government shut down the internet.”
“The guides are still relevant and we are also working with some of our partners to specifically help Nigerians stay online should the government shut down the internet. The digital rights community are therefore envisaging this already.”
We Got $26.94 Billion Development Assistance In Six Years- Minister Of State For Finance
The Minister of State for Finance and National Planning, Clement Agba, has disclosed that Nigeria got $26.94 billion foreign assistance inflows into various sectors in the last six years.
He disclosed this on Tuesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Civil Society and Development Partners.
He said the funds were provided to undertake various interventions across the country by foreign donors, International Non Governmental Organisations (INGOs) and other bodies.
Agba said $ 2.339 billion was received in 2015, $1.150 billion in 2016, $ 774.933 million in 2017, $22.016 obtained in 2018, $655.642 million received in 2019 while $5.639 million was received in 2020.
The minister said the funds were donated by the European Development Fund (EDF); United Nations Development Systems (UNDS); China through the Bilateral Agreement between the Government of Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China signed since1972.
Others are; Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA); Department for International Development DFID; United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the German International Cooperation (GIZ).
He, however, disclosed that the ministry did not receive the funds from the donors but it was involved in the coordination of the projects between the donors and the beneficiaries which are mostly the states and others.
“The implication of this is that donors do not give us the funds for management, rather donors work with the sectoral stakeholders to fund the project directly after identifying the needs by the MDAs/States in line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
“For the purpose of clarification, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is responsible for coordinating Nigeria’s multilateral and bilateral economic cooperation,” he said.
Speaking, Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Kabiru Idris, said the Committee had received many petitions, alleging widespread misappropriation, misuse, and diversion of donors’ funds.
He said the petitions also alleged falsification of performance reports for the purpose of obtaining more funds from donor agencies/organisations.
“Also, in line with its mandate, the Committee received a referral from the House of Representatives, mandating it to investigate the operations of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) so as to ascertain their sources of funding, their bases of operations and locations.
“This was after it had deliberated on a motion titled “Need for Special Intervention in the Protracted Situation in the Country,” he said.
Hausa/Yoruba Clash: Sanwo-Olu Visits Fagba, Reads Riot Act To Miscreants In Lagos.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat and other top officials during a visit to Fagba on October 27, 2020 over the recent communal clashes in the area. Credit: Lagos Govt
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has read a riot act to miscreants and hoodlums in Lagos, urging them to be law abiding and peaceful or face the full wrath of the law.
Speaking during a visit to Fagba in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area of Lagos State to assess the level of destruction of properties caused by last week’s ethnic clash between Yoruba and Hausa community in the area, Sanwo-Olu said the state government would be hard and very decisive on miscreants if they refuse to turn a new leaf.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was accompanied by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folasade Jaji, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Tokunbo Wahab and Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, assured residents of Fagba who were affected by the ethnic clashes that the state government would assist to alleviate their pains.
“The level of destruction that I have seen here is colossal; it is unfortunate. Enumeration would start immediately by the two local governments. The council chairmen and all the community leaders will come together and come up with a list of those whose properties have been destroyed,” he said.
“The security operatives are here; they can hear everything. We are using this opportunity to give notices to all the miscreants in the neighbourhood and that is why I am looking at you.
“If you know that you are not doing any work and that you are one of the people that have caused this trouble, we are giving you the final notice because we are coming to clear this whole place.”
Stressing the need for miscreants to vacate Fagba, the governor said: “We are coming to clear this whole place and we will make sure that you do not disturb or harass the peace loving people that we have in this neighbourhood. We have Hausa community; Igbo community and Yoruba community and they are living well.
“You need to look for what to do; we will not allow you to come and tarnish the image and the peace that we have in Fagba and in Lagos State as a whole.
“We will make sure that we also come and see what we can do to help the youth. And once we do that, we are giving you an opportunity to remain law abiding and be peaceful. If not, we will be hard and be very decisive on all of you.”
FG rejects proposal to repair scanners at cost of N753m
There is an indication that the five faulty scanners at the Apapa ports have been abandoned as the Federal Government rejects proposal to repair them at a cost of N753 million.
This development, Vanguard Maritime Report learnt, comes at the backdrop of the move by the government to acquire 300 new scanners at the cost of N688.6 billion as recently approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
Consequently, the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, have petitioned President Muhammudu Buhari over the decision.
The petition signed by NCMDLCA president, Lucky Amewiro, disclosed that three main level of improvement for the five scanning equipments were given to government, which are upgrading, updating and enhancement.
The petition said Smith Detection Consultants recommended updating which was the vital refurbishments necessary to return the system to “as delivered” state.
Amewiro gave the breakdown of the estimated cost for the refurbishments as follows: the one in Apapa port (Euro- E76,152,00), mobile scanners at Idiroko Border (Euro- E200,052,00), fixed scanners at Seme Border (Euro- E326,518.00), mobile scanners in Warri port (Euro- E663,645.00) and mobile scanners at Apapa port (Euro- E407,123.00).
According to the petition, Smith Detection the manufacturers of the scanners, were mandated to re-evaluate the scanners to know the present state, look into the main cause of the collapse and if possible work out a Public Private Partnership, PPP, arrangement to maintain them.
The petition, therefore, called on the federal government not to waste scare resource in the acquisition of new scanners.
They ask the government to conduct a fresh audit of the scanners with a view of determining their condition.
It stated: “The Council called for the re-evaluation of the scanners to know the present state and update the scanners as recommended by Smith Detection, the Manufacturers.
“Look into the main cause the collapsed scanners and if possible work out a Public Private Partnership arrangement to maintain the scanners.
”Alternatively, the federal government should release part of the one per cent FOB for maintenance and repairs of the scanners.”
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