The Feminist Coalition, popularly referred to as “FemCo”, is a group of young Nigerian feminists who work to promote equality for women in Nigerian society. It was co-founded in July 2020 by Damilola Odufuwa and Fintech entrepreneur Odunayo Eweniyi.
The Feminist Coalition was met with mixed reactions by members of the Nigerian youth, particularly Twitter users, who probably misconstrued them as a group of “Men haters”. They were usually the subject of social media controversies stemming from gender issues.
The FemCo, would however solidify themselves as a force to reckon with when in October 2020, they mobilized and organized the biggest youth movement in Nigeria’s recent history; the #EndSARS movement, which was pioneered by patriotic Nigerian youth and championed by various youth leaders all across Nigeria and beyond.
Feminist Coalition and #EndSARS
In October 2020, a series of mass peaceful protests against police brutality in Nigeria with the hashtag and slogan “End SARS” began. The protests called for the complete disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit with a history of abuse of power.
The members decided its first project would be to support the peaceful protests through ensuring the safety of Nigerians exercising their constitutional rights. They achieved these by providing food, water, first aid kits, masks, medical aid and legal aid for peaceful protesters.
The organization solicited, received and disbursed funds from multiple channels, towards ensuring that everything that was needed to keep the #EndSARS movement alive was readily available and at all times. The organization was heavily and thoroughly involved in mobilizing, and motivating protesters both online and offline.
They made multiple tweets attempting to reach out to the numerous paces where the protests were ongoing, in order to help get supplies to the requisite venues, and they provided food, water, medical and legal aid to as many as needed during and after the protests.
The Feminist Coalition pulled out officially from the #EndSARS movement after the brutal and shameful response of the government in deploying members of the Nigerian Army to gun down innocent and unarmed peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos. The FemCo would later be indicted in an unofficial case of financial misconduct following the protests.
FEMCO AND THE CASE OF FINANCIAL MISCONDUCT
On March 12 2021, it was reported by Nigerian media outlets that the organization and its members withdrew ₦23,000,000 (equivalent to $51,000 per exchange rate) worth of Bitcoin from the EndSARS account and deposited it into private accounts.
The feminist coalition released an official statement that contained their evidence of no wrong doing and refuted any act of financial malpractice or privatizing any monies. The evidence was a combination of figures and crypto currency lingua which made it significantly difficult for persons without knowledge on how digital currency works to comprehend.
The evidence was eventually tagged as a falsehood by crypto currency traders in Nigeria and third party crypto currency traders outside Nigeria who cited irregularities and factual inaccuracies in their evidence. Furthermore, the evidence provided by the feminist coalition appeared to be somewhat contradictory to what the organization claimed during the 2020 EndSARS protests in which they claimed all their legal services were pro-bono but their evidence did not support that claim as it showed millions of the Nigerian naira obtained from public donations were spent on legal fees. Crypto currency experts reprimanded the organization for being deceptive and deliberately obfuscating the evidence.
On May 2021, In bid to counter the financial misconduct they were indicted in, the organization released a comprehensive audit report regarding their management of funds obtained through the EndSARS donations but came under negative criticism because the audit report was sent to donors only.
This attracted negative criticism as they were yet again accused of censoring information and accused of contradicting themselves once again. The organization claimed the audit reports were sent to the electronic mails of the donors only, but in 2020 during the EndSARS protests the organization claimed the donations they received to finance the protest were made anonymously, which birthed the question of how they knew the identity and electronic mails of the donors if the donations were made anonymously.
Certain notable members of the Feminist Coalition, such as social influencer and businesswoman Feyikemi “FK” Abudu, have continued to speak up against the societal ills and injustices which the organization seeks to address and tackle, despite the controversial public image of FemCo.
By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi