While Nigerians await the return of normalcy after the shooting of peaceful #EndSARS protesters on the night of Tuesday, October 20, 2020, by Nigerian soldiers supposed to protect them, we take you through some of the notable protests in Nigeria which defied ethnic, religious, or class differences just like the #EndSARS protests.
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Aba Women’s Riots Of 1929
The Aba Women’s Riots of 1929 remains one of the most notable moves in Nigeria’s history towards changing the state of things in the country. Events leading to the riot would see thousands of Igbo women from the Bende District of Umuahia and other parts of Eastern Nigeria travel to Oloko to protest the Warrant Chiefs system. The women accused the system of limiting women’s role in government. Aside from challenging the Warrant Chiefs structure, the Aba Women’s Riots was an anti-colonial move that sort to address the social, political, and economic grievances associated with colonialism.
Led by rural women from the Owerri and Calabar provinces in November and December 1929, the riots were carried out by women from six ethnic groups, ranging from the Ibibio, Andoni, Ogoni, Bonny, Opobo, and the Igbo. The outcome of the riot would see many Warrant Chiefs resign, while 16 Native Courts came under attack. It is important to note that the Aba Women’s Riots was the first major anti-colonial move by women in West Africa. Also, the aim of the riots was achieved because the colonial government abolished the Warrant Chief system in 1930, and women were allowed into politics as they were appointed into the Native Court system.
The Iva Valley Massacre Of 1949
The depressing and dangerous working conditions of Nigerian miners which saw them work for six days per week in the dark with less oxygen and weak morale, coupled with little pay as compared to their European counterparts, would see the miners go on strike and embark on peaceful demonstrations. To end the protests and have miners return to work, the colonial government decided to bring the police into the matter. It would turn to a nightmare on November 18, 1949, as 50 armed riot policemen stormed the Iva Valley.
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Led by F.S Philips, a Senior Superintendent of Police, protesting miners who had strips of red cloth tied to their helmets as a mark of protest while dancing to boost morale in their usual manner, were shot at as Philips noted that they looked menacing by ‘’indulging in a war dance.’’ A total of 21 miners were killed as many others were shot at the back. After the Iva Valley Massacre, Nigerians looked aside regional, ethnic, or class differences, and worked in unity towards ending colonial rule. Nigerian Women’s Union campaigned for a boycott of foreign-owned enterprises, while riots broke out in places like Onitsha, Aba, Port Harcourt, and Calabar. The colonial Governor-General, John Macpherson, set up the Fitzgerald Commission to investigate the matter. If something was very clear then, it was the fact that self-rule was coming closer to Nigeria.
Occupy Nigeria 2012
The announcement by the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan led government on January 1, 2012, that the subsidy on petroleum had been removed would spark a nationwide protest on January 2, 2012. Nigerians rallied against the move by the government as protests took place in major cities like Abuja (the Federal Capital Territory), Lagos, Kano, Minna, and also abroad in places like the Nigerian High Commission in London, United Kingdom. Things would only be calm after the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, announced that the government had embarked on a “mass transit scheme,’’ with the major aim of curbing the effects of the subsidy removal on transportation.
There are other notable protests or riots in Nigeria’s history such as the Kano Riot of 1953, and the Operation Wet e in Western Nigeria in the 1960s. However, what we have above is distinct owing to the fact that they were motivated by patriotism for Nigeria other than ethnicity or political affiliations. The ongoing crisis in Nigeria started as a united movement from all tribes against police brutality until it was hijacked by hoodlums and the blood-thirsty Nigerian government that gunned down innocent protesters. Nigerians will never forget October 20, 2020.
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