At least 20 of Nigeria’s 36 states have established judicial panels of inquiry into police brutality following a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari to do so. The Lagos State panel is attracting the most attention because of its mandate to look into the alleged killing by the army of at least ten #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate. The army has changed its story after having initially claimed that it was never at the tollgate to now saying that troops from the local barracks were there at the invitation of Lagos State’s Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. It is now struggling to cover up its tracks of the shooting of unarmed protesters.
The police and the public have been counting the cost of the more than two-week protest with the former saying that at least 22 of its officers died and hundreds of police stations, as well as other public buildings, were destroyed. The House of Representatives’ speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, estimates that it could cost the Lagos State government at least a ₦1,000 billion (US$2.58 billion) to repair the damage inflicted during the protests but the state government has not yet produced its own figures.
The Presidency and Lagos State lawmakers have called for the regulation of social media because of the very damaging role that it played in the protests. The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said that social media could destroy the country unless it is properly regulated. This has raised the prospect of the Federal Government resurrecting the Social Media Bill that it abandoned earlier this year after it came under criticism because of its draconian provisions. It had stipulated the death penalty for those who spread fake news on social media.
Talks about restructuring the Nigerian federation have resurfaced as part of the response to the protests. Kayode Fayemi — the governor of Ekiti State and chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum — has said that the country needs to consider its current constitution and federal structure if it wants to achieve its potential. Kaduna State’s Governor Nasir el-Rufai — who may be a possible vice-presidential running mate for Fayemi in 2023 — has also expressed similar sentiments.
The US sent its own Special Forces into northern Nigeria to rescue an American citizen who was kidnapped in Niger and taken across the border by Nigerian armed bandits. Six of the kidnappers were killed but the hostage was successfully extracted without any casualties to the troops. The action highlights the continuing deterioration in the security situation in the northern region where armed bandits also killed at least 62 people last week in Zamfara State.
In the oil and gas sector, the National Assembly is making progress on the passage of the long-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) with a promise that it will create a win-win situation for both the government and investors. The investment banking firm, Renaissance Capital, has claimed that that the bill’s financial terms for deep-water oil exploration are sufficiently competitive to encourage the oil majors to resume their planned investment.
One company which could benefit from the bill when it is passed is Seplat Petroleum which is Nigeria’s largest independent oil and gas company. Its role in the gas sector will benefit from the generous provisions in the new bill. Meanwhile, the company is counting on the completion of a major new subsurface oil pipeline in the second half of 2021 to boost its revenues because of the reduction in vandalism and oil theft. It also expects its new gas plant to begin operations in Q4 of 2021.