A foremost youth-focused non-profit in Nigeria, LEAP Africa, says over 300 EndSARS protesters are still being held in unlawful detention across the country, pointing out that the psychological evaluation and retraining of all SARS operatives remain unknown.
The group also says investigations from the 2500 petitions of legitimate cases of police brutality and human rights violation, submitted to the judicial panel, conclude that governments across the affected states of the federation must pay N25 billion as compensation to victims.
LEAP Africa is, however, a development organisation committed to raising leaders that will transform Africa; through interventions for young people, that bridges the gap in leadership, education, employability and entrepreneurship.
As a mission-driven organisation, ‘’we recognize that youth leadership and inclusion is critical to nation-building and wealth creation’’, the group said, disclosing further that for many years, young Nigerians have aired their opinions on national issues and have contributed to growing conversations that have informed some government decisions.
However, the bulk of the conservation is not solely about youth voices being heard but youth participation in governance.
‘’The narrative, however, changed in May of 2018 when the incumbent signed the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill into law. The bill, which seeks alteration in sections 65, 106, 131, 177 of the Constitution – demands a reduction in the age limit to run for elective office in Nigeria.
‘’This offered a relatively fresh start to every young person aspiring for public offices across the nation as it presented an opportunity to join hands for the development of Nigeria. This was a step in the right direction’’, the group said.
Continuing, it said in October 2020 young Nigerians took to the streets in love for their brothers and sisters who have been victims of human rights abuse (right to life, right to liberty, freedom from torture, right to privacy and family life) by some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), to ask the government to disband this division of the Nigeria Police.
The protest ensued into a nationwide widespread protest and later gained traction worldwide under the hashtag EndSARS”. As the protest lasted, Tuesday, October 20, 2020, was a day to remember.
There were reports in the media that security operatives opened fire on peaceful protesters which led to the loss of lives of young people at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos state.
Also, CACOVID, a private sector initiative to support the government’s efforts in re-building and rehabilitating the institutions, businesses and citizens affected by the EndSARS protest was also initiated.
One year after the EndSARS protest: has the government made any additional move towards addressing the immediate demands of young people? Has the Nigeria Police become a better institution? Although the president ordered for the upward review of the salaries of men of the force, the police institution is still being under-funded, the police stations and barracks are still in bad shape across the nation.
These pressing and urgent questions form some of the many parts of conversations that must be had.
Therefore, we must pause and think about how far we have come and what we need to do to ensure the labour of our heroes does not end up in vain.
Beyond asking ourselves the hard questions, this is a clarion call to all Nigerians reading this to take the complex and decisive steps to make the nation great again.
To truly build a nation where peace and justice reign, there must be transparency in governance which encourages active citizenship where the voice of everyone matters in the formulation of policies. No doubt, it has become crystal clear that young people are awake and ready for better governance through political engagements.
Adding, the group said, ‘’similarly, we must also begin to investigate how these officers and men are socialised, what are their resolve for joining the force, what is the state of their mental health, what is the role of government in making sure they are catered for, what are the trust gaps between government and the governed, what is the part of the private and development sector, how should young people mobilise beyond ethnic, religious and traditional lines or biases?’’
‘’Our focus is centred on two big pillars; making secondary education work for young people and raising talents for the actualisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). LEAP Africa actively contributes to the body of knowledge leveraging our strategic direction of ecosystem building, thought leadership and advocacy’’, the youth-focused group said.