Over the past weekend, Nigerians in 12 cities across Canada took to the streets to make their voices heard and stand in solidarity with their fellow citizens participating in #EndSARS protests back home and around the world. This level of unity and determination from Nigerians is truly unprecedented and unlike anything we have seen in our nation’s history.
While the protests are still squarely focused on ending the scourge that is police brutality in Nigeria and demanding the right for Nigerians to live, the moment has also served as a rallying cry for an end to the bad governance that has held the country and its citizens back for too long.
In addition to taking to the streets and making our voices heard on social media, over 650 Nigerians in Canada endorsed our letter to High Commissioner Adeyinka Asekun asking to hear from him. The letter requested that his office communicate support for the protests by Nigerians in Canada and that it urge the Nigerian Government to take immediate action on the requests of Nigerian youth. Unfortunately, several attempts to engage with the High Commissioner directly were denied.
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Sign our open letter to the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, we need a response from our government to the demands of the people. Lend your voice using the link in our bio! 🇳🇬🚨 Our ask is simple: 1) Acknowledge our concerns – we need a RESPONSE. 2) Apply pressure on the Federal Government to End SARS and stop police brutality. This is not over. We are not done. SARS MUST END. . . . . #endsars #endpolicebrutality #sarsmustend #nigeria #humanrights #yawa #highcommissioner #canada #toronto4endsars #nigeriansindiaspora
After the High Commission requested that the letter be physically delivered to their offices, a restrictive request considering the many Nigerians spread across Canada who would be better served by technology-driven processes, protesters in Ottawa stepped up and did just that. Their attempts at communication were met with intimidation, deferrals and dismissals. After several protests, the High Commission decided to add an update to its website about the situation and said it would forward the letter, which was addressed to the High Commissioner, to the Federal Government in Abuja.
The update on their website refers to the proven incidents of police brutality and police criminality in Nigeria as “alleged”. It provides no indication of any actions being taken by their office or any direct response or acknowledgement from the High Commissioner himself, to whom the letter is addressed. This is incredibly disappointing, and ultimately an extension of the invisible and silent leadership that is the hallmark of bad governance in Nigeria – a leadership that shows no regard for its constituents and no desire to adequately engage with them. Protests in Ottawa demanded regular updates from the High Commissioner on the situation back home and on the efforts of his office to make our voices heard. They intend to hold him and his office accountable with continued protests.
Lmaoooo, Nigerians in Ottawa are my favourite people right now. They are back at the high commissioner’s house to hold him accountable. They are demanding updates every week and will be back every week to ask for those updates. Energyyyyy #endsars
— #ENDSARS 🇳🇬 (@maryasekome) October 17, 2020
As Nigerians in Canada, we are fortunate in many ways to have opportunities and resources that our compatriots do not. This is why we must continue to be an engine of support to them as they press on. Through donations, solidarity protests, social media, pressure on our representatives and activities of our own initiative, we have a part to play in the fight for our country.
We must not grow tired until justice is served for the victims of SARS, and we must not stop until we see the better Nigeria that we have long been owed.