In the early days of October, thousands of Nigerian youths revived a previously existing but dormant movement against police brutality. The protest was more specifically targeted against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria police force. The youths trooped out in their numbers to support the protest in various locations across the country.
There were lots of volunteers who constituted various teams including the Medical team, the Legal team, as well as numerous financial contributors from within and outside the shores of the country. People who couldn’t join the protest physically trended various hashtags like #EndSARS and #EndPoliceBrutality on twitter to show their support for the activities.
Few weeks into the protest, hoodlums hijacked it and various degrees of damages to public and private properties were recorded. Many lives were also lost. This led to the restriction of protests in some places.
Some days after the cessation of the physical protests, allegations of intimidation by the government started flying around on social media platforms. One of the most popular and active participants during the #EndSARS protest, Modupe Odele aka Mochievous, claimed that her passport was seized and she was denied exit out of the country at the airport, by officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
Odele, who is a legal practitioner, was an active mender of the legal team that fought for justice for protesters who were arrested as a result of their involvement in the protest. She is also a member of the Feminist Coalition, which raised over 100 million naira used to support the protest. In a tweet, she said, “1st of November, I was stopped and my passport taken some minutes to boarding this flight. No reason was given, other than “you are under investigation” today is 5th of November, I still do not have my passport back neither have I been told what”
However, the NIS spokesman, Sunday James, denied the allegation that her passport was seized as a result of her involvement in the protest. He claimed that the passport was seized as part of their normal border duties. He said the NIS is in charge of the enforcement of any travel restriction placed on an individual
There were also reports that the government generated a ‘no-fly’ list, but the Ministry of Interior denied this, stating that the news was fake. Howveer, a few Nigerians reportedly had their passports seized while attempting to leave the country. In a tweet, the Ministry of Interior said, “The Ministry of Interior did not, has not and will not generate any no-fly list. Ignore fake news, please!”
Few days after the incident, she tweeted, “Hello everyone. Thank you so much. I’m fine and I’m safe. We haven’t confirmed yet why I was stopped on Sunday or by whom. But I’ve been invited back with my lawyers today. I’ll update when I have more information but please don’t spread false news. That is dangerous.”
Subsequently, there were reports that her passport was released. “Passport now picked up. No issues. I’m told I can travel at any time. Thank you so much, everyone, for the help and concern”, she tweeted.
However, a lost of some of the most influential promoters of the protest was generated, and they have been charged to court.