Why FG should unfreeze #EndSARS promoters’ accounts- Nigerians
Late in October, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, received the approval of the federal high court in Abuja to freeze accounts of 19 individuals and a company linked to the #EndSARS protests till January, drawing the ire of many Nigerians. In this issue, some Nigerians who spoke to our correspondents explained why government is not within its rights to freeze accounts of peaceful protesters. Excerpts:
JULIE OKOH: Well, my take is that government will not sit down and watch people sponsoring protests. If government had no facts, it wouldn't freeze their accounts. And if they know they have no skeletons in their cupboards, they should go to court and contest it. Government has facts that people sent money from the diaspora for these protests.
People sent money to destabilise the country and that is where government is hinging on to freeze these accounts. Some people supported the protests and I don't believe that the protest was hijacked. I always tell people that on the 10th day of #EndSARS protest, if the protesters had gone back to the drawing board to come up with plans of forming a group, it would have been better.
Even the president was waiting for this. In his speech he said this protest is long overdue and it would have been good for all of us if it was not hijacked. But my question is who hijacked it? I don't believe in that school of thought that it was hijacked. Somebody, somewhere used that protest to kill a good course.
SAATER IORHEN: Everybody was tired of what was happening and they all came out to protest. I want to presume that government has a beef with those people they are freezing their account. The protest was a mass one and not what an individual did. How would government know that particular monies sent to an individual was meant for sponsorship of the protest? People came out from all over the country and you are talking about sponsors?
Government should rather punish and freeze the accounts of sponsors of Boko Haram and leave innocent people alone. Boko Haram have caused immense destruction to lives and property in the country than that of a World War. But up till today, our government has not fished out, named or punished any sponsor. But they want to freeze the accounts of people who vented their anger for a good course. Government should stop chasing innocent Nigerians and go after the real enemies of the country.
NWANDU JOHN: For me, this is another form of brutality. Why would government take this step again? This is a clear indication that they are not ready to end police brutality in Nigeria. During the protest, government promised to address the demands made to them. Now they want to arrest, detain and freeze protesters’ accounts.
This is uncalled for. Government officials really need to search their conscience. Politicizing the #EndSARS protest will not solve the persisting police brutality in our country. The ruling party alleged that the #EndSARS protest was sponsored by critics. If they actually knew it was sponsored, won't they conduct investigation, and bring those involved out for questioning? Besides, what did they mean by sponsored protest?
Police brutality, especially SARS was alarming before the protest. It has affected Innocent Nigerians across the country. So what are we talking about here? The misplaced priority of this government misled them in different areas of governance, yet they don't want to learn from their mistakes.
DIKKO INUWA: Freezing protester's accounts will further tense up the political atmosphere. The dust raised by the recent #EndSARS protest, is yet to settle. I expect government to set up a panel to carry out comprehensive investigation on the activities of SARS in the last ten years.
Police officers involved in series of brutalities should be fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law. Yes, I agreed that the government will not fold its hands and watch instability, but it must also know that this was caused by their irresponsible attitude towards the plight of the citizens.
Had they given a listening ear to the various reports made to them on the activities of police, and taken urgent steps to solve the problems, the situation wouldn't have escalated to this extent. Every citizen has the right to protest.
I can tell you that if you carry out further investigation on how government got the account numbers of the #EndSARS protesters, you would discover that it was targeted at their perceived political enemies. It is wrong to continue in this struggle for supremacy among the political class. For how long are we going to continue in this direction?
ISAAC SANYA: It is important to clearly state that #EndSARS protest was a pushback on excessive brutality and oppression by security agencies in Nigeria, especially the defunct SARS. Such a cause doesn't need promoters.
Government’s perceived betrayal informed the decision to freeze the bank accounts of selected public figures. Peaceful protest is well within the fundamental human rights of every citizen. Although the government claimed it listened and is taking steps to meet the demands of Nigerians, their action proves otherwise.
Freezing accounts of peaceful protesters is clearly a misplaced priority and government needs to retrace its steps.
OBINWANNE EMEKA: Freezing of bank accounts owned by #EndSARS protesters and promoters is a gross violation of their rights and an attack on Nigeria’s democracy. It is a clampdown on the citizens’ fundamental rights.
In a nascent democracy as ours, the government should copy from countries who have more advanced in democracy and see how it has been practiced. This administration should unfreeze the bank accounts as the protesters are within their rights to peaceful protests. The government should rather look into the demands of these young people just as it promised.
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