Home Citizens Speak HOW TO HAVE A DSS-DISRUPTED PROTEST By Koso Agboanike



This is a rough, personal guide. I cannot guarantee everyone will learn how to have protests that get disrupted by the DSS just from reading this, because difference.

            1. Get a hold of information about a nationwide protest against the hate speech and social media bills.

            2. Confirm that Pius will be there so you can have someone to call to know the current location, since you’re coming late.

            3. Have double thoughts about going for the protest. I mean, 8 in the morning. For what? Did we kill anybody?

            4. Make a decision to go anyway. Because you cannot be raining fire and brimstone on your status and balk when there’s something to do finally.

            5. Call Pius as you’re close, to be told that nobody is there, maybe they’ve moved. Moved how kwan? It’s just thirty minutes past. What happened to African time?

            6. Get there and see for yourself that you’re the fourth person to arrive. Or make that third, the journalist leaves eventually and doesn’t get to feature in the awesome adventure you guys have.

            7. Call the number for Enugu on the flier, get told it is switched off. Wonderful.

            8. Thank god Pius and Ifeanyi came with cardboards, then go to work writing stuff on them.

            9. Have your number swell to, and stop at, five. Enugu, how far?

            10. Finish up with the placards. Democracy, not dictatorship. In hindsight, be grateful that you people wrote harmless stuff on them placards.

            11. Realise making the placards is one thing, and holding the protest is another. Five people. Wow.

            12. Talk about walking around and talking to people about the bills and why it’s important to stand against them. Then settle on taking pictures in front of the state House of Assembly first.

            13. Have a Hillux pull up on the road while you’re having fun with the pictures, and the occupants call you for a chat.

            14. Let your heart skip a little, but calm down, it’s just a peaceful protest.

            15. Explain to them you’re having a peaceful protest against the social media and hate speech bills, that you’re not under any body, that it’s a free to participate protest organised by some civil rights groups, Enough is Enough and Concerned Nigerians.

            16. Have them take pictures of the placards.

            17. Have another Hillux pull up behind the first. The man in the first asks you to go see the man in the second.

            18. Have a nice chat with the man in the second Hillux who tells you your protest is illegal since you didn’t write to the police, even though you try to explain the conveners of the protest informed the Nigerian Police for the entire country. After everything, Pius would bring to your attention a case where the court declared void the provision of the Public Order Act that requires individuals to get permission from whoever before having gatherings. You wonder if you’re getting any value from studying Law. You wonder if you should torch the country. You wonder if the case would have made any difference. I mean, Sowore is still under custody.

            19. Have him give you an option of submitting your placards and ending the protest there and then, or continuing and taking anything that comes of it.

            20. Talk with your friends about whether to give in or go on or what exactly is even the problem?

            21. Have him disrupt your little chitchat by ordering you to enter the pickup in front. Eh?!

            22. Question over and over where you’re being taken to and why and for what, and be reassured they just want an interview and no harm will come to you and you’ll be brought back soonest.

            23. Have the intention of standing your ground, but get pressured with lines like, Don’t argue with me, get in the car, I said, get in the car now.

            24. Cave in eventually and get in because, gun, because, all the stories of DSS killing people and throwing their bodies away (or is that SARS?), because, the insanity of people that carry guns in this country, because, all the Law you’ve been studying have eloped and you no longer know your rights, if you have any.

            25. Sit in the back of the pickup and think what the fuck is going on, think the best contact to call to come bail you, think how your mother would process the news that you’re sleeping at DSS today, think it was just a fucking peaceful protest for Christ out loud, think how simple it would have been to just abandon those placards to them but you had to stand your ground. Is there any stand-able ground in this hellhole?

            26. Have your phones collected from you (why exactly did it occur to you to switch yours off? lol) and be made to wait in the visitors room.

            27. Have the girl with the gun wait on y’all. Subtle intimidation that doesn’t seem to work. Ask her questions, meet walls.

            28. Wait.

            29. Have the man from the second pickup have a little chat with you in the conference room. Resolution: you did wrong by not informing the police, you’ll be profiled and handed over to your VC, or have him come down to the place to take you, your choice.

            30. Go back to the visitors room.

            31. Wait again.

            32. Get taken to an office upstairs to be profiled (fill forms with funny provisions like alias, names and addresses of associates, frequented places/resorts) by a Yoruba man who tries to preach to Pius because he fills agnostic in the religion space and keeps a ‘fro. He would give Pius an Awake magazine as you leave, and you’d request one too because you like JW.

            33. Have a comic profiling session with the man until two jimjim brothers burst in and start having a scream party: A van has been ordered, handcuffs, legcuffs, y’all are going to Abuja, you won’t be treated as students because NANS has denied you, you’re lying on your forms, gbogbotigbo. What happened to subtle intimidation?

            34. Have them calm down eventually and begin to be friendly as they try to tell you why the Social Media Bill is necessary so false information like the one that got you protesting in the first place doesn’t get circulated. Father Lord.

            35. Have them resolve to not ship you off to Abuja anyway. They go on and on about the impropriety of the protest. Advice to the young ones. You all actually manage some laughs.

            36. Have the jimjimer of the brothers (who claims to be in charge of students) give you ₦2000 for transportation back.

            37. Hope that you’re about to leave immediately, seeing as you’re about to faint from not having eaten (advice I’m not using: if you have an addictive relationship with food, don’t frigging go to a protest empty bellied.)

            38. Have your hope dashed.

            39. Go back to the visitors room.

            40. Wait yet again.

            41. Have a disagreement over the propriety of accepting the money {Ifeanyi says they have bought/bribed us, I say codswallop, does 2k stop me from participating in other (better organised, large crowded, low danger) protests? And it’s tfare for gossake, which they owe us, because, can’t move me from my location and abandon me to find my way}.

            42. Get called by the girl previously with the gun, to have mugshots of you, taken by her phone. Nigeria sef, you can’t even get this one right (insert face in palm emoji).

            43. Wait yet yet again.

            44. Have the weird handshake man, whom they claim is in a quite high position there, come in for another round of handshakes, and call you handsome and pretty.

            45. Finally get called out to leave.

            46. File into a hot Sienna and get your phones back.

            47. Get driven to school, with a Hillux in front, and don’t give them directions so they drive around for a bit till they figure where Students Affairs Department is located.

            48. Wait a little while longer.

49. Have the four of you from UNEC get called into the office of one woman who seems to be the currently highest ranking person with the absence of the Dean and other more important persons.

            50. Write your names and departments and levels in duplicate. One for DSS, one for madam.

            51. Have the DSS eventually leave, and go through a talk session more gruelling than the DSS’s, on the strength of having three African mothers in all their meme glory talk down on your activist efforts, which they obviously don’t understand. Talmbout thinking the social media bill is needed to make young people stop using their phones too much. Jesus. (Reinsert face in palm emoji.)

            52. Get told you can leave eventually. Hallelujah.

            53. Go your separate but weary ways. DSS won, no protest.

            54. Have Kayode call and relate his experience in his dean’s office (ESUT) which is strikingly similar to yours. Lament to each other about the state of the nation which you have seen firsthand.

            55. Be disillusioned, be depressed, be so tired you could share it across one year and be very tired for each day. Have an existential crisis. Wonder at the meaning of meaningless life (we suffer to preserve a life that is going to die anyway).

            56. Have a completely needed call with your sister. Resolution: Nigeria is rotted, don’t let the state of the nation depress you, guard your happiness, don’t let your experience dim your fire, do the most you can (with wisdom), leave, hope it gets better, leave anyway.


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