FORM LOCAL COORDINATING AND SELF-DEFENSE COMMITTEES TO SUSTAIN THE STRUGGLE! FOR A MASSES’ CONTROLLED EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM!
Statement of the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (Nigerian Section of the RCIT), 12 10.2020, http://www.revolutionarysocialistvanguard.wordpress.com/
The past series of months have been marked globally by a deep reflection on the role of police in society. In Nigeria, the campaign against police brutality takes the form of the current END SARS protests which is spreading like wildfire through out the country, what is undeniable, however, is that people don’t want the so-called security apparatus in its present form anymore. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is a special unit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) which was set up to, as the name implies, deal with cases of armed robbery, fraud, cybercrime etc. This unit has over the years secured for itself the most notorious image for police brutality, extortion, corruption, illegal abduction and torture. There have been at least 27 reported cases of extrajudicial killing by this same unit of the NPF for the past four years. In the same vein there have been popular uprisings, even if in relatively small numbers, against the menace of this group in recent times with the government proscribing SARS every single time. Albeit, before any organized protest began on October 5th this year the Inspector General of Police again banned the unit but that didn’t stop youths from occupying the lobby of the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Lagos State Police headquarters for days.
As earlier mentioned, these protests continue to spread across the country with angry protesters attacking police stations in at least two states and the protesters continue to occupy key locations to press in their demands. In spite of all these the police has brutally cracked down on the protesters killing one in Oyo state and injuring several others sometimes fatally throughout the nation.
We welcome and support the protests against police brutality as a whole and the campaign to end SARS in particular. Even though the presidency and the Inspector General of Police have declared SARS disbanded, it is important to restate that an end to SARS is not an end to police brutality or repression. In fact SARS is just one of the police units, there are many other parastatals that have gone rogue or which can still serve as a veritable tool of mass oppression. Thus, the final battle against police brutality and state repression must be done by the masses. In this light such proclamation of the ruling class must not be taken as the final victory but the least of victories to come if the people persist.
Although it is commendable that the protests in various states and locations is being led by musical artists and celebrities, even Nigerian migrants in the UK were also led by one of those musical artists, there is still need for the formation of coordinating committees composed of delegates elected at the different states or communities where these protests are being held. These coordinating committees may combine to give national direction by way of elaborating what are the next steps to sustain, promote and expand the struggle as instructed by the protesters or supporters of the struggle in their different localities.
We warn against any illusions of a meaningful reform in the police, that is why we call for local self defense committees which must be formed democratically by civil society organizations, workers’ and students unions; and members of the community. Only reforms which weaken the strength cum spread of the police like defunding the police or driving the police out of communities or campuses must be supported.
Many left organizations do not call for the formation of armed self-defense guards even when they call for the abolition of police creating confusion thereby strengthening the argument for police reforms or demands like “ReformSARS“. The mere fact that the excuse for police units like SARS, and the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) is rising crime rates leads us back to original purpose of the whole state apparatus—to stitch the cracks in the system by coercion. That is, instead of providing jobs and unemployment benefits for the people so as to prevent crime they intensify and expand the repressive forces so as to maintain the inordinately large share of their profits. The police, army et al are the machines that preserve the system hence only reforms which weaken this forces can be supported. For this cause we reject all slogans like “Reform SARS“, “Reform the Police” on account of their vagueness or arbitrariness.
Conclusively, the only successful route to end state repression is the constitution of local armed self-defense committees and then a people’s militia depending on the strength and readiness which will comprise of workers, students, youth and the popular masses. This remains the form of organization that can defend the masses during an uprising to change the system of capitalism which is at the root of all crime and oppression.
For a public employment program controlled by workers, students, youth and peasants! This is the solution to rising crime rates and heightened cyber crime not state repression and police brutality.
Prosecute all killer police! For us, unless the economic base of police is destroyed killer police will continue to walk free. A recent example is the release of Derek Chauvin, the officer who murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis, after posting a 1 million dollar/775,000 pound (!) bail. Hence this struggle must be knitted with removing the economic mainstay from the grip of the billionaires and super-rich and putting it under the democratic control of the workers and masses!
Drive out the police from youth communities such as campuses and schools! End SARS! Abolish the police!
Form armed self-defense committees to shield protesters and comrades from attacks by police! Form coordinating committees to spearhead the struggle! The masses must be ready to enforce the new regulations which limit the extent of police operations like “stop and search” etc.
Fund education, healthcare and agriculture! For a national food and housing program under the dictate of popular masses for the poor and homeless!
Expropriate the billionaires and super-rich! Put the commanding heights of the economy under workers and masses control!