Nigeria’s ‘Democracy Day’ marked with protests and tear gas rounds

To mark Democracy Day, nationwide protests were called across Nigeria over bad governance and the unending cases of insecurity. 

Tear gas was fired on anti-government protests during those riots that took place in Lagos and the capital Abija. International media reported several arrests and injuries too. 

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Nationwide protests took place on Saturday during ‘Democracy Day,’ marking Nigeria’s transition from military to civilian rule two decades ago. Protestors seemed to raise concerns over bad governance and the overall security situation in Nigeria. CNN reports that over 800 students have been abducted since December. 

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowds of hundreds of protestors, many of whom held placards and banners with the inscription, “Buhari Must Go” while calling for reforms. The protests began in an organized and peaceful manner after which demonstrators began chanting pro-democracy slogans. A  heavy police presence and deployment marked the day. However, the protestors still breached the first, second, and third line of defense forcing the police to start lobbying tear gas. Live rounds were also fired in the air. 

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In Abuja, the situation was similar, as police dispersed the protestors using tear gas. AFP reported several arrests were made by the police including officers smashing mobile phones confiscated from some of the protestors. 

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Nationwide insecurity

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who came into power in 2015 and is serving his second term, has been under immense pressure over the insecurity situation grappling the country. The former general now the president has been unable to stabilize the country’s security situation with security forces facing armed uprisings to the northeast, mass killings and kidnappings by gangs in the northwest, and separatist sentiment growing to the southeast.  

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Buhari admits failure

Popular internet social media platform Twitter also got banned, as the government claimed it was being used for activities aimed at destabilizing the country. In a live televised address to mark Democracy Day, President Buhari admitted to being unable to address the security challenge despite having it as a central campaign pledge in 2015. He even extended his “heartfelt condolences” to families of the victims of kidnappings and killings.  

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Despite once claiming that the group was “technically defeated” they have recently stepped up attacks in the country’s northeast, practically overrunning towns and military bases, looting food, medicines, and weapons. He once again gave assurances that he would do “everything in his power” to restore the county’s security. As Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria also faces a 33.3% high unemployment rate. A situation the president pledged to work on. 

Twitter’s indefinite suspension 

Nigeria’s government has also indefinitely suspended the country’s Twitter operations. The statement was released by the Ministry of Information and Culture.

The suspension came after a tweet by Buhari was banned, a move deemed highly offensive. The June 1st tweet threatened to deal with the country’s southeast region following continued attacks on the region’s infrastructure.