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The Nyanya Road Massacre: What are the Linkages and Lessons for the 6th November 2018 General Strike?

By Comrade Ogbu Alexander Ameh Author of In The Struggle and Convener Generation for Change Africa Initiative GFCAI

On Monday, 29th October 2018 certain segments of the security forces massacred at least 39 people at the army road block on the road from Nyanya to Abuja. A peaceful, unarmed demonstration of Shi’ite supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) were gunned down in the road from the popular residential areas of Nyanya, Maraba and Karu to the centre of Abuja.

The IMN say that over a thousand of their members are missing, the police say they are holding 400 – others may be dead, but their bodies are yet to be recovered. Security forces killed at least another six on the previous Saturday. The Shi’ites were demonstrating for the release of their leader Ibrahim Zakzaky who has been illegally detained with his wife since the massacre of at least 350 IMN members in December 2015 in Zaria. The Court ordered their release in December 2016, but the court order has been ignored by the security forces.

The massacre on the Nyaya road is the latest evidence of the inhumanity of sections of the security forces. They have killed more civilians in the North East than Boko Haram. In the South East, they massacred IPOB supporters and in the Niger Delta they continue to harass local people. The Federal Government has a responsibility to investigate these mass killings and the officers responsible for giving the orders should be brought to justice. But more importantly, on the long run, there is a need to dissolve the security forces as presently constituted. They should be re-constituted and put under popular control along with a reconstitution of other arms of government. We won the campaign to reconstitute the dreaded SARS, although in a limited sense. The labour movement should widen this campaign to put other arms of security forces under check and ultimately under democratic control.

We need security forces that really protect the poor majority rather than terrorising them. It is no accident that the largest recent killing in Abuja occurred on the road from the major popular, poor housing areas to town. This is the road that many workers travel to work every day. So it is no coincidence that this killing happened on the day before the NLC/TUC day of outrage and mourning over the minimum wage. It is partly meant to intimidate the workers movement into submission.

Sixty per cent of police officers are said to be directly posted to protect rich and powerful individuals. The police always side with the money bags. When we strike they try to protect the companies and not our ‘right to strike’. At MMA2 the security forces tried to intimidate the workers. When the workers protested against the corruption of the executive secretary of the Nigeria Health Insurance Scheme, it was the police who ensured the suspended Executive Secretary could enter his office.

A report by Amnesty International shows the level of violence and killing against the IMN:

“An investigation by Amnesty International shows that the horrific use of excessive force by soldiers and police led to the killing of at least 45 supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) over two days, as the Shi’a Muslim group held a peaceful religious procession around Abuja…

“It seems the Nigerian military are deliberately using tactics designed to kill when dealing with IMN gatherings. Many of these shootings clearly amount to extrajudicial executions,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Since a massacre of over 350 IMN supporters which took place in Zaria in 2015, the Nigerian authorities have consistently sent in the military to respond to IMN protests or marches. This strategy appears to be at least partly to blame for the bloodshed witnessed on Saturday and Monday…”

We need to remember and mourn this planned massacre, but we also need to organise. As Charly Boy says to explain why he joined the protests against the recent killings, “I remember one of the great quotes of my great father. ‘Son wherever you see injustice, fight it for it may boomerang and chop your head off’.

We need to come out in our tens of thousands during peaceful protests and rallies throughout the general strike slated to start on Tuesday, 6th November. The answer to state terrorism is not individual terrorism but mass collective peaceful action.

The workers united will never be defeated!

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Alex Ameh Ogbu
Alex Ameh Ogbu
Comrade Alex Ameh Ogbu is an Abuja based Media Practitioner and a prolific writer that writes mostly from Akatekwe Kingdom. He can be reached via: onwaters2011@gmail.com

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