Despite the announced dissolution of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) by the IGP, the EndSARS protest across the country is growing and waxing stronger by the day.
The continuation of protest despite the new development and the failure of every government efforts to quell the agitations have sparked speculations that the government might resort to internet shutdown as a final solution.
The protest which began a week ago was ignited when a video of a fatal police shooting of a Nigerian man sparked outrage and a public call for the total dissolution of the controversial police unit on twitter.
In the first 3 days, #EndSARS was the No 1 trending topic on Twitter worldwide, amassing nearly 5 million tweets and more than 100 million engagements.
Outrage over the video pooled large numbers of Nigerians including celebrities, politicians, and activists calling for justice using hashtags such as #EndSars, #WarOnSars, and #SARSMUSTEND.
The campaign quickly moved from social media to the streets of Nigeria, with thousands of protesters trouping out to demand an end to the rogue SARS unit and end to police brutality.
With protest still growing, speculations are flying that the next tactic the government might try would be to douse Social Media – the fuel of the protest by shutting down the internet.
Although Nigeria has never employed internet shutdown, other African countries like Chad, South Sudan, Cameroun among others have used internet censorship to clampdown on protests.
Between 2016 and 2018, the authorities in Chad, South Sudan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Somalia shut down the internet in their respective countries.
Speaking on the speculation of internet shut down, Paradigm Initiatives media and program manager Adegoke Adeboye said it is not “impossible” for the Nigerian Government to shut down the internet but hoped it will not get to that point.
“We all know the role that the Internet is playing in the protest and we can already imagine that someone has proposed this to the government,” Adegoke said.
Victor Asemota, a tech enthusiast cautioned that if the government makes the mistake of shutting down the internet it will spark stronger and renewed protests.
“There are many reasons for Nigerians to protest and SARS is one of them. If they make the mistake of shutting down the Internet, many others will remember those other reasons and start new protests. I have seen this strategy backfire in Togo. I don’t think they will do it.”