Nigeria is a lawless state, the “lawless” a paradox of the worst kind. What I mean here is that the law either retains its power or not, depending on who is involved. Every day we hear unbelievable news, soldiers molesting and attacking a select set of civilians for wearing camouflage (having someone of the force automatically offers you immunity though), policemen arresting and harassing young people because of their perceived ‘criminal’ identities, and the rest of other ridiculousness.
It is tiring, noticing and constantly addressing these irregularities, especially because nothing changes and everyone eventually gets tired and moves on to something else.
We have caused quite an uproar over the social media and hate speech bill, and I think it’s all funny. At the same time, I’m forced to ask if we are protesting both bills because of our blatant addiction to social media, or if it is all a fight for our fundamental human rights. If it is the latter, then we are already too late to this party.
Among Nigerians, there is a thing like the fear of appearing overly insensitive that disguises itself as negligence. We pretend not to care, until everything gets ruined.
If we are protesting the social media bill as an infringement on our basic human rights, then we should all be protesting the clampdown on wearing camouflage, the unlawful detention of Sowore and other journalists held secretly, and police brutality.
I remember an incident that happened in my third year in the university. A fellow had approached me to ask why I was wearing camouflage. But before he jumped to the big question, he asked other questions to confirm if I had someone in the force, and when I answered in negative. My answer gave him full rein as he launched into a diatribe of how just anybody wasn’t allowed to wear camouflage, and how his misogynistic ass would let me go because I was a woman. This fellow was a student-soldier.
I felt deeply affected by this incident. First, I was wearing a blue patterned camouflage, which was not even typically Nigerian, and I wasn’t sure the student-soldier knew that. After all every camo na camo.
True. You can get seriously manhandled for having literally any shade of camouflage handkerchief, wristband, or anything. One time I had this discussion with a friend, the friend felt the restriction was right as Nigerians are used to abusing things. He further argued that a soldier’s camouflage is his uniform and shouldn’t be worn by civilians. I reminded him that camouflage, first of all, is a patterned material designed to suit a soldier’s surrounding and allow him blend in, and so is meant specifically for warfare. Also, I told him that such censorship is why Nigerians will never respect the Nigerian army the way citizens of other countries do their military.
Nigerians fear soldiers because of their ruthlessness, but fear has never quite substituted for respect. Same way people wear jerseys of their favourite teams to show love and support is the same way people wear camouflage to show love and admiration for their military.
Even though Nigeria is not the only country where camo is outlawed, it is time we review such redundant parts of the constitution. The fact that our constitution is military in characteristics should also be discussed, and such precepts like the ban of camo be repelled. Big countries like USA and Russia place no such restrictions on camo, so why should Nigeria, a country plagued by corruption, be burdened with the abuse of camouflage by civilians?
We should do more with our protests and uproar, like really have a litany of discussions on this ridiculous ban on camouflage. This is 2019 and not 1975, there is now a pretend-regard for democracy no matter how infinitesimal.