What started as innocuous #EndSARS protests against the brutality and high-handedness of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), now disbanded, have tail-spinned into an open-ended and wider spectrum of all sorts of grievances with no end in sight.
Nigerian youths have, perhaps, for the first time in the nation’s history, stamped their feet on the ground and called for a positive change.
In past decades there were always youth protests such as the ‘Ali Must Go‘ in 1977 that rocked Nigerian universities and called for sack of the then education minister but nothing in the magnitude of the #EndSARS protests has ever been experienced.
Definitely the protests will bring about major reforms in security and governance in Nigeria. Already, on the sixth day of the protests, President Muhammadu Buhari painstakingly but briskly acceded to their demand to disband the SARS with the hope to appease the protesters.
But the youth have raised the stake and increased their demands. They are now calling on the government to holistically address wide ranging and comprehensive teething national issues. To be fair to them, some of their demands are genuine and sublime while others are ludicrous.
While the youth have good grounds for their protests so far and the backing of both government as well as all well-meaning Nigerians, they should beware of those already set to hijack the situation to create anarchy.
Given the reports from most parts of the country, there are palpable fears that what hitherto were peaceful protests have fast turned into conflagrations.
In deed questions are now being raised about the #EndSARS protests. Why would Nigerian youths go about setting police stations ablaze even long after their demands for the abolition of SARS had been met? At least about a dozen stations have been torched. Why are they committing arson? Why are they attacking other citizens and impeding rights of others to movement?
If the youth are complaining about the atrocities of SARS, then why are protesters breaking jails and freeing prisoners, burning cars all of which are crimes as worse as what they accuse operatives of SARS of perpetuating? These are salient questions that must be answered.
It could only mean that the fifth columnists have taken advantage of the protests to breach the peace and security of the land. There is obviously a fifth column which is masquerading as protesters.
There is need to weed them out to avoid loss of momentum.