Nigeria: June 12 Protestors Say Enough Is Enough, Restore Twitter Or #BuhariMustGo
Thousands of Nigerians gathered worldwide in protest against the Buhari government and bad governance. The protests took place on Saturday on Democracy Day, which marks the day the military handed over power to an elected civilian government in 1999.
From London to New York, Nigerians in the diaspora held demonstrations and joined the call for better government. In Nigeria, protests took place nationwide in Ibadan, Lagos, Abuja, Akure, Jos, Osogbo, Abeokuta, and Portharcourt in southwestern Nigeria. Protestors demand overall three things. "
"1. End the killings and insecurity.
2. End the social media shutdown immediately.
3. Convene an Emergency inter-regional dialogue committee for all regions in Nigeria (within a month)."
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Lagos where police assaulted them with tear gas in an attempt to dissolve the protest. Nigerian troops also patrolled several cities alongside large mobilizations of police. The police officers were also witnessed stealing and destroying mobile phones from protesters in an attempt to decrease the visibility of the protests on social media. The decision to steal and smash people's phones comes on the back of the government’s decision to suspend access to Twitter after the social media platform removed a genocidal post by the former dictator and now current "president" Buhari.
The Buhari regime's decision to ban Twitter has cut off an estimated 40 million users, at least 20% of the population. Nigeria is Africa's most populous country and many young Nigerians assert that is slipping into repression.
Most users bypassed the government-imposed Twitter ban by using virtual private networks (VPNs) to access the service, many of which were provided by the hacking group Anonymous. The Nigerian attorney general’s office has ordered immediate prosecution of anyone who tries to bypass the government’s Twitter ban.
Over the years Twitter has become Nigeria's main hub for social justice discourse, community organizing, and the collective criticism of bad governance. In 2020, Twitter provided protesters with a means to communicate and organize during the #EndSARS protests, which were originally aimed at the notorious Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit but later transformed into protests against bad governance, impunity, and injustice.
The 2021 Twitter ban has caused a global outcry over freedom of expression and put a spotlight on the country's bad governance, insecurity, and institutional failures. The European Union, United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement on Saturday, June 12, 2021, to condemn the Nigerian government’s decision. Lawyers in Nigeria argue that the Twitter ban violates the freedom of expression guaranteed by the country's constitution. Nigeria's bar association is waiting to file a court motion to lift the ban when the judiciary staff ends its national strike that is currently preventing lawyers from taking further action.
Experts say Buhari’s current regime is evocative of his 1984 military regime. He has forced legislation to allow the government to imprison any journalist or civil society member guilty of “embarrassing” the country’s military leader. Several journalists have been imprisoned or charged with treason.
In 2021, Nigeria ranked 120th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index.
Today millions of young Nigerians have declared that enough is enough, and they demand a better quality of life, good governance, dignity, and respect.