Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin, President of the Centre for Change, warned that the government cannot silence the country’s youth on the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protest that shook the nation last year. Odumakin expressed her feelings in a statement made to mark the tragic occasion.

She said, “We remember today all the young Nigerians killed or maimed during the #ENDSARS protests one year ago, in bizarre circumstances. We remember them because of the weight their memory places on our conscience as individuals who witnessed the gory sight.

“We remember them because we have neither addressed the grievances that led to the protests nor extricated ourselves from the miry clay of insensitivity and cluelessness that our youths stood up against.”

Despite the nationwide protests that lasted days, nothing has changed, according to the social crusader.

Odumakin said, “We remember them because, one year after, we have not moved an inch from a spot. The grievances which led to the protests and eventual killings remain fresh and unaddressed. We remember them because the panels of enquiry empaneled by the government turned out to be dousers of agitation and silencers of the oppressed.

She expressed her disappointment that the constitution allows for peaceful protest but that the police are opposed to it.

“But the collective voice of Nigerian youths rise today beyond the intentions of their killers.  They cannot be silenced! Beyond the unknown graves, we remember them because of the loss-lines on fathers’ faces and the misery of mothers.”

“Like biblical Abel, even though dead they nonetheless are still speaking through their peers who are fashioning out creative ways of protesting in a country where protest attracts the death sentence. If the Constitution okays protests but the police criminalize it, you then have a police operating against the law. So sad!” she said.

She did point out, however, that the culture of protests will outlast the culture of protest suppressors.

“We stand in solidarity with protesters today as always. We team up with every Nigerian who, in protest or in solemnity, remembers the fallen and standing heroes of the #ENDSARS protest.

“We tell all who care to listen that the culture of protests will outlive the culture of protest squashers. Protests are natural phenomena while extreme reaction to it flies in the face of reason and common sense,” Odumakin said.

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