At the last Globe Central meeting, I shared an update on the protests happening in Nigeria. This blog post provides a recap for those who missed it, and serves as a reminder for how we can continue to pray for Nigeria.
I was born and raised in Nigeria and moved to the UK at 17. My dad (a retired civil servant), and my mum (a nurse) reside in Nigeria as well as a number of friends I went to school with. This allows me to remain up to date with what’s going on in the country, especially the city of Lagos where I grew up.
I think it’s fair to say that 2020 has been hard for everyone. From the outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown(s), to the killing of George Floyd that sparked a global protest, and for me the killings of peaceful protesters on the 20th of October at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos; it can be hard to remain hopeful. However, scripture reminds and encourages me that God is Sovereign (Psalm 103:19) and that He is close to those who are heartbroken and crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).
What happened at Lekki Toll Gate?
On October 20th 2020, the Nigerian army opened fire on peaceful unarmed protesters while they were singing the national anthem at the Lekki Toll Gate, in response to a government imposed curfew. Lekki is an affluent area in Lagos Nigeria.
Why were the protests happening?
Earlier in October, Nigerian youths organised a peaceful protest urging the government to end police brutality. Some of you may have seen the hashtag #ENDSARS that trended on Twitter in October.
The acronym SARS stands for special anti-robbery squad. This was a branch of the Nigerian Police Force founded in 1992 to investigate crimes such as armed robbery and kidnapping. However, in recent years, there has been an increased level of outcry against SARS. They have been accused of illegal arrests and detentions, extrajudicial killings, and sexual harassment, amongst other violent acts.
The official protests against SARS began on October 8 and were largely peaceful. As the protests gained momentum, the Nigerian government announced on 11 October that the SARS unit will be disbanded. The protests continued despite the government’s announcement as protesters did not believe the government would work through the issues of police brutality (this is based on the fact that they have not sufficiently addressed it in the past). Nine days later, on 20th October, at least 12 of these protesters are killed and the nation is thrown into chaos. In the aftermath, there was looting and destruction of property by opportunists.
The Nigerian government have denied any involvement in the killings and the president has failed to adequately address the loss of innocent lives.
Things appear to have settled down a bit now, but the fight by young Nigerians to see the end of police brutality and bad governance remains very much alive.
How can you pray alongside Nigerians?
• Pray for protection for continuing protesters
• Pray that there will be peace amidst the unrest
• Pray for those scarred by the events of the Lekki Toll Gate will find healing and comfort
• Pray that government leaders will respond to the requests of the citizens and be compassionate
• Pray that the Church in Nigeria will continue to intercede and not be discouraged. (Roughly half of the country’s population is Christian)
Regardless of how 2020 will play out, I choose to trust the Sovereignty of God, believing that someday justice will prevail.
If you would like to learn more about Nigeria, do check out “Journey of an African Colony” on Netflix.