The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has accused Twitter CEO and Founder, Jack Dorsey of being liable for the losses incurred due to the #EndSARS protests held across the country. Mr. Mohammed made this known during the programme, “Politics Nationwide” in Radio Nigeria on Tuesday where he stated that,
“If you ask people to donate money via bitcoins for EndSARS protesters, then you are vicariously liable for whatever is the outcome of the protest. We have forgotten that EndSARS led to the loss of lives, including 37 policemen, six soldiers, 57 civilians while property worth billions of naira were destroyed.
164 police vehicles and 134 police stations were razed to the ground, 265 private corporate organization were looted while 243 public property were looted. 81 warehouses were looted while over 200 brand new buses bought by Lagos State Government were burnt to ashes.”
He reiterated his stance with that of an online media who according to him conducted an investigation confirming that Dorsey retweeted posts supporting the #EndSARS protests and an emoji was created as a way of amplifying the protest.
On the suspension of the micro-blogging platform’s operation in the country, he had this to say,
“Twitter has become a platform of choice for a particular separatist promoter. The promoter consistently used the platform to direct his loyalists to kill Nigerian soldiers and policemen, run-down INEC offices and destroy all symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty. Every attempt to persuade Twitter to deny its platform to this separatist leader was not taken seriously.”
The #EndSARS protests begun on Twitter with many recounting horrible encounters with officials of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which led to many calling for their disbandment. Sooner, youths took to the streets to make their demands known to the government.
The #EndSARS protest later evolved to becoming not just a call for the dissolving of SARS in the country, but an end to bad governance, an end impunity for police violence, incessant killings, and insecurity; and justice for those who lost their lives due to police violence. The protesters soon carved a name to further amplify their voices tagged, “Soro Soke”, a Yoruba word meaning, “Speak Up”, and also dubbed themselves, “the coconut head generation.”
The government soon changed the name from SARS to SWAT(Special Weapons and Tactics), but youths were able to decipher that it was just a change in nomenclature, with same people. They further continued to press for their demands. Five key demands were highlighted by the youths which are;
- Immediate release of all arrested protesters;
- Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families;
- Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days);
- In line with the new Police Act, psychological evaluation and retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be redeployed;
- Increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.
On October 20th , 2020, between 6:45pm and 9:00pm, the Nigerian army and police allegedly killed at least 12 peaceful protesters and left several injured in Lekki and Alausa, Lagos State. Although, the government has on several occasions denied that incident.
However, youths continue to amplify their voices, demanding good governance and an end to police brutality in the country.
Speaking on the indefinite suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, Mr. Mohammed stated that the government will not tender an apology to those unhappy over the suspension of the micro-blogging platform.