THE ENDSARS PROTEST AND THE NEW WAVE OF INSECURITY IN AWKA SOUTH

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BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The history of the evolution of human societies is replete with various conflicts, crises and wars that threatened the survival of human beings and various measures adopted to resolve them. Being an integral characteristic of human nature, violence has often been used to seek redress to perceived grievances or in the pursuit of some personal or group interest and security. Human beings have inbuilt redress mechanisms that are most often used with prejudice and hatred, resulting in the destruction of lives and property. Security concern is largely believed to be the major factor that forced human beings to abandon the individualistic primitive state of nature to form organized societies. Issues bordering on national security are very critical for the material progress of any country. This assertion is against the backdrop of the truism that even sustainable development is a function of an enabling environment.

Addressing issues of insecurity is crucial in order to execute successful development projects. As a goal, it believed that every country should aspire to reach a point of security by protecting its citizens from structural violence, crime, and social insecurity. Indeed, without the safety of citizens, all plans for development, whether economic, political or social, will fail. Insecurity is a phenomenon that is bedeviling various countries across the globe in varying degrees as it affects policies and development. Any nation striving towards development must try to have positive improvement in their security sector. In recent years in Nigeria, there has been an upsurge in the frequency of crime committed. The problem of insecurity which used to be one of the lowest in the hierarchy of social problems facing the country seems to have assumed alarming proportions since the end of the Nigerian civil war which ended in 1970. (Femi, 2012). The security of societies in the contemporary world is phenomenal and complex. This is because the world is becoming increasingly interdependent and interconnected as information and communication technology (ICT) have rendered nations borderless making movements between cities much easier. This increasing interdependency and interconnectivity coupled with the ENDSARS, have precipitated new security challenges. The deteriorating security situation in Nigeria is worrisome. Recently, Nigeria has witnessed unprecedented level of insecurity ranging from intra-communal, inter-communal and inter-ethnic clashes; religious violence; armed robbery; assassination, kidnapping and “boko haram” insurgency (Mutiullah cited in Abubakar, 2011). Insecurity in Nigeria is causing developmental challenges such as endemic penury, high rate of unemployment, corruption, low industrial output, unstable and deteriorating exchange rate, high inflation rate, inadequate physical and social infrastructure, large domestic debt, and rising external debt profile (Ewetan, 2013). These problems have posed severe threats to socio-economic development in the country in that it stifles business and economic activities and discourages local and foreign investors (Ewetan & Urhie, 2014)

Hutchful (2012) opines that pivotal to the survival of any society is its law and order which are predicated on national security. Insecurity leaves in its wake tales of woe which the country and its citizens have had to contend with over the years. Every society across the globe has its peculiar problems and challenges. Anambra state is not an exception. As a state, she faces her own share of social, political, economic and cultural problems which has in no small measure affected the well-being of the populace (Adebayo, 2013).

Nigeria has been facing worsening insecurity since the end of the ENDSARS protests in 2020. The security situation in the country, after the ENDSARS protest is comparable to the post- Civil War era in the early 70s when all manner of crimes were committed against the state and the citizens. The state actors, including security agencies, are seen as paying lip service to security and exhibiting a ‘wait and see’ attitude to the problem that has sent many Nigerians to their early graves. While some stakeholders tend to believe that the security agencies are deliberately allowing criminals to perpetrate crimes against innocent masses, robberies, ritual killings, kidnapping for ransom, human trafficking, among other criminal acts, became rampant in many parts of the country, making it look as if there is no government in the country. This is the situation of the country where the police, military, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), among others, saddled with the responsibility of securing life and property in the country appear to be watching without enthusiasm to control the situation.

At the aftermath of the ENDSARS protest, hardly would a day pass without hearing cases that causes major security threats. Lately, in Anambra it has changed in dimension that the state appear to have been enmeshed in a fire box of insecurity leading to score of deaths of innocent civilians, visitors to the state, some members of the state security personnel, elected officials and many government workers. The number of violent crimes such as kidnappings, killings, armed banditry and others has increasingly become the regular signature that characterize life in Anambra state including in the immediate local government in the state capital territory, Awka South LGA. This causes a major worry as such encroachment into the state capital territory has the tendency to cripple the activities of the state. For this reason, the researcher seeks to check the nexus between the ENDSARS protest and the heightened state of insecurity on Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State

1.2   STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

It is no news that Nigeria has been facing worsening insecurity since the #ENDSARS protests in 2020. Violent insecurity have continued after the protest and Nigerians are decrying silence by the police and other security operatives as a breakdown of law and order characterized by unchallenged robberies and ritual killings, destruction of police facilities among other terrible social vices and violence, have become the hallmark of the post #ENDSARS Nigeria.

Awka South LGA in Anambra state has become the brunt of insecurity which has led to the loss of many lives, loss of livelihood of many people and others. The security situation has degenerated to the point that the residents are now being advised to quickly lie down whenever they hear gunshots and listen to discover where the shooting is happening to avoid being killed by stray bullets. Violent insecurity have continued since after the ENDSARS Protest. These days, people now keep arms as personal equipment, arms that they acquired during the protest when police stations were burnt (Daily Post Newspaper reported on October 24th 2020 that police stations in Amichi, Osumenyi, Ezinifite and Ukpor have been burnt down in Anambra state). These acquired arms are then used to cause serious violence now in the state, also due to the attacks on the police and their facilities, people now have the courage to commit crimes because of the level of destruction of police facilities and this has made the police very unwilling to intervene in issues pertaining insecurity. The police have withdrawn from their usual routine and this has given people boldness for cult violence in Awka South Local Government Area. In 2021, THISDAY Newspaper reported that Cultists and Armed Robbers has worsened insecurity in Awka as there has been rampant cases of killings, most of which happened during the day with gun wielding youths accosting and shooting their targets in broad daylight. They have taken advantage of the security breakdown (THISDAY Newspaper, 2021), Also in 2022, it was reported that gunmen kidnapped an Anambra ex-law maker in Nkwelle, a community in Awka South Local Government Area and this is the third case of abduction in five months (Premium Times Newspaper, 2022). Thus, there is need for research on the nexus between the ENDSARS protest and the heightened state of insecurity on Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

1.3   RESEARCH QUESTIONS

For the purpose of this study, the researcher brought out the following research questions:

  1. Is there any connect between the attacks and rejections of the police operations by the people during ENDSARS Protest and the withdrawal of police from the routine operations and sustained fear in Awka South Local Government Area?
  2. How did the acquisition of arms during ENDSARS protest generate the rising spate of violence and killings in Awka South Local Government Area?
  3. How did the Boldness acquired during ENDSARS Protest by people generate the continuous boldness for cult violence in Awka South Local Government Area?

1.4   OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The general objective of this study is examine ENDSARS Protest and the New Wave of Insecurity in Awka South. The study specifically seeks to:

  1. To examine the connection between the attacks and rejections of the police operations by the people during ENDSARS Protest and the withdrawal of police from the routine operations and sustained fear in Awka South Local Government Area
  2. To ascertain how the acquisition of arms during ENDSARS Protest generate the rising spate of violence and killings in Awka South Local Government Area
  3. To find out how the boldness acquired during ENDSARS Protest by people generate the continuous boldness for cult violence in Awka South Local Government Area

1.5   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The significance of this study is particularly in the area of insecurity, it has both theoretical, academic and practical significance:

  1. Theoretically, the theories to be discussed in this study will generate lots of ideas and principles which will guide the course of the study. They will help to give direction to the work and also draw meaningful contributions or issues inherent in this study.
  2. Academically, this work will act as a point of reference material to other researchers who wish to carry out further study on the 2020 ENDSARS protest in Nigeria and its effect on Nigeria’s security.
  3. Practically, the findings from this study will benefit security Agencies operating within the region to redress the loopholes in the security sector which will create a comfortable environment devoid of insecurity for the dwellers of Awka South Region. In addition, it will help the government to realize the level of insecurity in the region and provide an insight into curbing insecurity in the region.

 

 

1.6   SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The research work focuses on the ENDSARS protest and the new wave of insecurity in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. On the other hand, the geographical scope covers the nine (9) towns in Awka South Local Government Area but the researcher limited the study to only five (5) towns in Awka South which are: Awka, Amawbia, Okpuno, Nise and Nibo. The selection is based on the peculiarity of the case study.

1.7   OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS

PROTEST: According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 9th Edition, Protest is the expression of strong disagreement with or opposition to something; to say or do something to show that you disagree with or disapprove of something especially publicly.

SARS: it is an acronym for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. This is a special unit of the Nigerian Police Force formed in 1992 to combat armed robbery and other serious crimes.

ENDSARS PROTEST: This is a slogan with hashtag used by the Nigerian Youths to agitate and demonstrate against the notorious special unit of Nigerian Police Force Special Anti-Robbery Squad code named SARS.

INSECURITY: Insecurity is the state of being open to danger or threat; lack of protection.