Peaceful protest is an integral part of every society. It is a way through which people show their disapproval or condemnation of certain issues or developments in their environment. This common practice is arguable to be as old as history itself. However, protesting in Nigeria has recently recorded incidents of armed security officers who ought to guide the protesters, directly shooting at them.
It should be recalled that on October 20, 2020, many Nigerians were moved to tears when a report came in that the military had opened fire at thousands of Nigerian youths that gathered at the Lekki Toll Plaza, demanding the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the police, over alleged high-handedness and gross cases of Human Rights violations.
As the memory of the ugly incident is still fresh in the minds of many Nigerians, another report has emerged, revealing that Nigerian Police officers have been captured in a video, directly shooting at Abia State Polytechnic Students in Aba, who were protesting the alleged gang-rape of one of the institution’s female student by some Police officers (source: Politics Nigeria).
Following this development, it has become important that the government should take drastic measures to ensure that the issue of security officers shooting at peaceful protesters in any part of the country, is brought to an end. In my view, this ugly development can be ended through the following 2 ways.
1. Introduction of severe punishment for any officer who shoots at peaceful protesters
Arguably, the current system shields security officers a lot. As such, gives them confidence to act as they like even to the extent of shooting at peaceful protesters. With this in mind, it has become important that the shield should be broken, while a severe and proportionate punishment should be made certain for any security officer that shoots at peaceful protesters.
2. Ensure that security officers do not go to the scene of peaceful protests with guns.
It is common knowledge that a peaceful protest is not a war. Therefore, does not require the use of guns to control. As such, it has become important that security officers are stopped from going to scenes of peaceful protests with guns. Instead, they should go with water cannons, and tear gas. Arguably, if any of the two options above is implemented, the issue of armed security officers shooting at peaceful protesters in Nigeria, would become history.
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