Statement from Pan-African Community Action (PACA) & the U.S. Out of Africa Network
We are clear that at the root of escalating brutal and lethal repression in Nigeria is the economic and political alienation born from decades of Western neo-colonialism and an unsustainable global economy. The government forces shielding a comprador class in Nigeria are intensifying police repression against valiant youth who are rising up to demand the human right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of all individuals and families.
Pan African Community Action (PACA) and the U.S. Out of Africa Network (USOAN) are calling on all who stand for true democracy and peace through justice to sign on to this statement in solidarity with the people of Nigeria in support of their clear demands: A genuine disbanding –and not a rebranding– of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Replacing SARS with SWAT is a cynical insult and is unacceptable; Compensation must be made to the families of those preyed upon by the SARS unit and those killed by the military for protesting, and all prisoners arrested in connection with the protests must be released.
The Nigerian youth have spoken: demonstrating and blocking streets nationwide. The reaction of the Nigerian military has been brutal: protesters have been fired upon with everything from fire hoses to live ammunition and, as of October 21, 2020, Amnesty International claims at least 56 people have died across the country since the protest began with about 38 killed on Tuesday, October 20th alone.
This sign-on statement is NOT a call for sanctions or more Western intervention or anything that lends deference to Western benevolence or hegemony. On the contrary, this is a call that recognizes and seeks to expose how the US, EU, NATO axis of domination is responsible.
The police in Nigeria are a colonial institution: begun in 1920 by the occupying British Empire. The British empire used both taxation and the police to fuel a colonial system built on forced labor, which was used to run the colonial government itself and to build the infrastructure it needed to extract revenue from the country as a whole.
The exploitative role of the police survived Nigerian independence, and has continued until the present day: police have been deployed to raze slums to the ground to clear land for developers to make luxury real estate for the Nigerian middle and upper classes. Nigerian police, like the elites they protect, enjoy total impunity for their actions: more than three out of four Nigerians who have encountered police over the past year report having been extorted for bribes, and sexual assault and extrajudicial killings are also chillingly common. SARS, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, is simply the “most notorious” perpetrators of crimes endemic to policing throughout the country.
We are not fooled by the platitudes of U.S. politicians. Just three years ago, the U.S. cashed in on further militarizing Nigeria with the sale of over half a billion dollars worth of military gear, funds that should have been used to mitigate the deep economic crisis that is devastating the Nigerian working class. 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 there is hard evidence that Nigerian police forces receive training from U.S. police officers through the IACP’s International Police Education and Training (IPET) program.
To PACA and the USOAN, self-determination is essential. A group has self determination as a people and/or a nation when they have full decision making powers over their own destiny. So we unequivocally condemn the neo-colonial character of the Nigerian authorities, represented not only in the tendency to repress the population on behalf of the interests of the comprador and Nigerian bourgeoisie, but also on behalf of Western imperialism. 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 state violence occurring in Nigeria is part of a global pattern of violence affecting African people from Minneapolis to Lagos, and from Abuja to Port-au-Prince. Our oppression crosses borders; so must our solutions. All who support the right of the people to authentic democracy and human rights should stand in solidarity against neo-colonial rule and the imperialism that it protects.
If you agree with the above, please add your signature and join us as we organize active resistance in solidarity with the people of Nigeria.
*Featured Image: Wikipedia/TobiJamesCandids