NIGERIAN government officials have stepped up the persecution of organisers of the #EndSARS protests which recently rocked the nation by starting to freeze their bank accounts as part of a general clampdown.
Following a month-long nationwide protest against the brutality of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (Sars) police unit, the government came under intense criticism. After being forced to scrap Sars, the government decided to end the protests forcefully, sending soldiers to shoot innocent protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, leading to international condemnation and sparking nationwide riots.
Reeling from the bloody nose it got during the protests, the federal government has decided to clampdown on protesters and has already announced plans to restrict the use of social media across Nigeria. On Monday, a meeting of the Northern Nigerian Governors Forum attended by traditional rulers, federal government officials and the senate president, condemned what it described as the subversive actions of the #EndSARS protest.
Clamping down as promised, lawyer, Ms Odele, who had through her Twitter handle mobilised her 219,000 followers during the protests, was denied the right to leave Nigeria. She had also offered free legal aid to persons who were unjustly arrested during the demonstrations and for her troubles was singled out for persecution.
Stepping up the attack on the organisers of the protest, the federal government has begun freezing their bank accounts. Some #EndSARS promoters said their banks had informed them that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had directed that their accounts should be frozen.
Apparently, the CBN instructed the banks to place a Post No Debit restriction on the accounts. As a result, the banks, it was learnt, were able to implement the directive by tracking the narration of transactions.
Bank transactions that included the narration #EndSARS were immediately flagged while accounts receiving funds were frozen. Pharmacist, Bassey Israel, who was in charge of the #EndSARS medical team in Port Harcourt, said his account with Access Bank had remained frozen since October 15.