The uprising in Nigeria: new international left rises in solidarity

Protesters take a knee to honour lives lost to police brutality during a protest against SARS in Lagos

By Martin Woodley

The financial crisis of 2008-9 plunged international capital into a long period  characterised by its inability to stabilise accumulation rates to pre crisis levels. This has necessitated ever increasing attacks on the working class. Austerity carries with it a need for increasing reliance on the coercive apparatus, attacks on civil liberties and a desperation to crush the left. These have become greatly intensified directly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is important to understand that the systems of repression are global, a manifestation of which is the intensification of neocolonialism. The recent uprising in Nigeria against police repression and the attempts by the regime to crush it are just such an example. This is increasingly being recognised, and an international left is being forged out of these struggles. The statement issued jointly by Pan-African Community Action and the US Out of Africa Network is a recognition of a deep connection between the uprising in Nigeria around #EndSars and the uprising in the US around #BlackLivesMatter against police brutality. The Black Alliance for Peace, a component organisation in the US Out of Africa Network give a commentary on the statement.

The violent crackdown against the #EndSars movement mirrors what has been seen in the US.  Armed thugs have attacked protesters at the headquarters of the central bank in Abuja injuring dozens. Police accused people “posing” as protesters of looting weapons, and torching police buildings in southern Edo state, where prisoners were also reported to have escaped from a jail in the state.

There was an increased military presence in Abuja on Monday 19 October. A day after Defence Minister Bashir Magashi warned protesters against “breaching national security, there was an increased military presence in Abuja. Meanwhile, the Edo state government declared an indefinite curfew because of “incidents of vandalism and attacks carried out by hoodlums in the guise of #EndSars protesters.”

In Lagos a curfew was announced at 12.00pm to take effect at 4.00pm on 20 October. Knowing that there had been a protest camp at the Lekki Toll Gate on a major thoroughfare through the city the authorities switched off security cameras, highly suggestive that they expected something to take place which they didn’t want to have video evidence of. At about 6.50pm pm the armed forces confronted a peaceful crowd at the Lekki Toll Gate and opened fire with live ammunition.

Later, the mayor of Lagos claimed that there had been one fatality in the incident. However, despite having no security camera footage, large numbers of people recorded and live streamed the incident. It was clear that there were a large number of fatalities – some reports of 56 fatalities and many with injuries. Smartphone footage also shows that ambulances were prevented from attending the injured by the armed forces. Also, people flew drones over the area the same evening and recorded footage of the armed forces loading bodies onto flatbed trucks.

This massacre is a crime against humanity, and its attendant denials by the Nigerian authorities are sadly occurrences which we must expect to be repeated as a new international left rises and capital attempts to crush it.


Click here to read and sign the statement from Pan African Community Action (PACA) and the U.S. Out of Africa Network (USOAN) in solidarity with the People of Nigeria.


Below, republished in full, is a statement from The Black Alliance For Peace.

Pan-African Community Action and Black Alliance for Peace Suggest U.S. Connection in Nigeria Violence

Black Alliance For Peace, first published on 22 October 2020

Washington, D.C.-based Pan-African Community Action (PACA) and the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP)’s U.S. Out of Africa Network (USOAN) issued a joint statement condemning what appears to be illegal police and military violence committed against unarmed, peaceful protesters in Nigeria. 

PACA and the USOAN assert, however, a U.S. connection to the violence that many are not making. The Nigerian police forces and military have long histories with the United States through the U.S.-led International Police Training School and the military-to-military relations between U.S. and Nigerian militaries, a part of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).  

The joint PACA-USOAN statement said, “The U.S.-led International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is “the world’s largest and most influential professional association for police leaders,” with more than 31,000 members in over 165 countries. Nigeria’s police are among its members, and hard evidence exists that Nigerian police forces receive training from U.S. police officers through the IACP’s International Police Education and Training (IPET) program.”

The joint statement went on to say, “Nigeria’s relationship to the U.S. and its military to military relationship with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) must be seen as indirectly if not directly culpable for the October 20th massacre of unarmed protesters by the military.” 

“The U.S. is not a benevolent power,” according to Tunde Osazua, coordinator of BAP’s USOAN. “When the U.S. extends police training and establishes military-to-military relations, it is not doing so out of any commitment to democracy and human rights, but out of self-interest. It provides assistance to those governments that are aligned in upholding the interests of the U.S. and the other colonial powers.” 

This position is echoed by the Nigeria-based Joint Action Front (JAF): “The latest act of massacre of Nigerians brings to fire once more the point we in JAF have consistently made that: *”… there is a very tiny group of Nigerians who have cornered the wealth that belong[s] to the working people and the poor, who are in majority. They loot the Treasury and use their stolen wealth to sustain themselves in power through their political parties. They use their power to get richer and richer while the poor get poorer and poorer.  This is the system of exploitation and oppression. It is the system that brings out the army and the police to kill poor people when they protest against exploitation and oppression. We want to change that system and replace it with a system where the working people and millions of people who are suffering under the system of exploitation will win power and ensure that the wealth of Nigeria is used to ensure a good life for the majority of the people who are now exploited and oppressed.”

The neocolonial nature of Nigerian and other African states’ leadership mirrors the neocolonial role of the Black misleadership class in the United States that white power has doled out responsibility to for managing the poor and working classes of the U.S. domestic colonies. Unfortunately, Black misleaders have not hesitated in unleashing brutal and often deadly force against Black and Brown life in spaces under their control. 

For PACA and USOAN, Black lives are just as precious in Nigeria as they are in the United States, France, Colombia, Venezuela and everywhere African/Black people now find themselves. Nigeria’s Black rulers’ disregard for Black lives is a graphic reminder that white supremacy and the act of upholding European colonial/capitalist power cannot be reduced to a black/white binary. 

We say the pigmentation, race, gender, and nationality of the perpetrators occupying institutional power is irrelevant when state actions are committed to protecting and advancing the Pan-European white supremacist colonial/capitalist patriarchal project.