From Nigeria to Togo, can Africa really have peaceful protests without deaths?

Amending the constitution to enable the ruling president to run for more than two terms has been a norm in most African countries. To protest the law in Togo that has led to the Gnassingbe family ruling for 50 years, people took to the streets. This led to the death of two people and 13 injured as security forces opened fire to break up demonstrations.

The protesters took to the streets protesting the amended constitution of more than two tenures that has led to a 12 year rule of Faure Gnassingbe , the present president of Togo. A demonstrator voicing his grievances said “we do not understand our little Togo, the father Eyadema was in power for 38 years, his son would soon have done 15 years. All we are demanding is a term limit and they shoot tear gas at us”.

Most peaceful protest in Africa turn out deadly because of the use of real bullets to disperse crowds. As citizen under a democratic system of government it is their constitutional right to protest. They are entitled to their freedom of speech, it is a means of showing their grievances over an issue. A call for change.

In Nigeria, security forces led by the military embarked on extrajudicial executions of pro- Biafran protesters in 2016, killing 150 protesters in the South-east region. The security forces shot at unarmed and innocent people at different locations.

Security operative’s repressive response are often times what you lead to this violence. Breakdowns in nonviolent protests only become more likely due to the brutality of security operatives. In such situations, a rational calculus peaceful movement is met with brutality.

If a crowd of unarmed protesters, holding placards move around chatting their displeasure why should the very same institution set out to protect lives and properties be the ones to take lives. Different measures are used in crowd management, and only on severe cases if need be should the use of attenuated energy projectiles (AEP) or rubber bullets as they are popularly called can be used to disperse crowds.

The use of rubber bullets can be deadly and can have unpredictable outcomes, but if the need to use a more forceful and compelling method, only then is the security personal justified to cautiously use these rubber bullets.

Often times, innocent lives are lost because of security officers shoot to kill tactics and despite the overwhelming evidence against the security forces, only in rare cases are investigations are carried out.