No fewer than three persons were feared killed in Edo and Ondo states when hoodlums attacked #EndSARS protesters demonstrating against police brutality in the country.
In Edo State, apart from the two persons killed when hoodlums attacked the protesters at Ring Road in Benin City, some others sustained varying degrees of gunshot injuries.
One of the deceased persons, identified as Ikpomwosa, sustained several machete cuts before he eventually died. The other person was said to have been taken away from the scene of the attack by friends.
The hoodlums, clad in red T-shirts, were said to have suddenly appeared with guns, cutlasses and other weapons to attack them.
Some of those who had gunshot injuries in the attack were rushed to the nearby Central Hospital, while the body of Ikpomwosa was conveyed in an ambulance and taken to the Government House.
However, the protesters later regrouped after the hoodlums had been chased away.
A 60-year-old protester, Victoria Nkechi, said she came out to support the youths in their protest for good governance.
In Ondo State, tragedy hit the protest in Akure, the state capital, on Thursday evening when a car rammed into the protesters, killing one person and injuring three others.
It was gathered that the incident, which happened in front of the governor’s office, involved a Toyota Camry with number plate, LND 778 GL, and two commercial motorcycles.
An eyewitness said the driver of the vehicle lost control of the car and hit the two motorcycles which hit the protesters. One of the victims was said to have died on the spot while others were rushed to the hospital.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ondo State Police Command, Mr Tee-Leo Ikoro, confirmed that the deceased was one of the #EndSARS protesters, noting that the driver was immediately arrested.
He added, “The family of the deceased have agreed to accept their fate and they have requested for the body for burial. So, they have settled the matter.”
Obaseki condemns attack on ENDSARS protesters
Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, who had earlier called for the protection of the protesters by the police, condemned the attack on the protesters by the hoodlums, noting that a thorough investigation would commence immediately to bring the culprits to justice.
The governor, in a statement, added, “I hereby call on the Edo State Police Command to provide adequate security for the protesters and ensure that no one is harassed in the course of exercising their rights.”
Also, the state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, charged security agencies to fish out the killers of the #EndSARS protesters in the state within 24 hours.
Addressing the protesters at the Kings Square in Benin City, he said the government would not fold its arms and watch harm come the way of young people exercising their rights.
He added, “We are going to give him a state burial because the martyrs of this struggle must be remembered. He will be remembered for being part of this struggle. He is a martyr already and by the grace of God, he will never be forgotten.”
The Peoples Democratic Party in the state, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehikhare, also condemned the attack, saying the behaviour of the attackers was disheartening given that the protest was for their benefit. “Their ignorance is frightening and should be an embarrassment to their sponsors.”
In a peaceful procession to the Government House in Benin, some of the protesters carried a coffin with EndSARS written on it.
There were however fears that the protest might be hijacked by cultists with rival gangs threatening to descend on one another.
Protesters block Airport road in Abuja
The #EndSARS protesters on Friday defied the Federal Capital Territory minister’s directive banning protests in the FCT as they shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road, Abuja.
The mammoth crowd massed at the city gate causing a serious traffic gridlock on the busy highway, which was said to have prevented some travelers from accessing the airport on time to board their flights.
The FCT Security Committee chaired by the FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, had stopped street rallies which he said violated the COVID-19 protocols. He also directed the security agencies to enforce the directive on the protests, which he said was affecting commercial and economic activities in the nation’s capital.
But the protesters ignored the directive, stating that the FCT Administration had no constitutional power to halt protests in the city.
The protesters were seen moving from the city gate towards the Central Business District where they continued the protest.
Motorists, commuters stranded in Ogun, FCT, others
Meanwhile, motorists and commuters in different parts of the country were stranded on Friday as the protesters blocked major roads.
At the Arepo-Magboro end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the protesters, in their hundreds, carried various placards as they blocked the movement of vehicles on both sides of the busy expressway. Many motorists were stranded for hours.
Some of the placards read, ‘Carrying iPhone, laptop, and wearing dreadlocks is not a crime,’ ‘iPhone no be gun (meaning iPhone is not a gun,’ ‘End police brutality, stop killing our youths,’ and ‘Stop killing our dreams.’
Apart from seeking an end to brutality by the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police, the demonstrators also demanded good governance from the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
Lamenting the gridlock, a commercial driver, Bashir Olola, said, “I have been stuck between Ibafo and Magboro for more than four hours. I have wasted the day already.”
Many other commuters lamented that they spent hours in traffic and that they might arrive at their destinations late.
Also, on the Abeokuta-Sagamu Road in Abeokuta, the protesters’ action brought vehicular movements to a standstill as motorists and commuters were trapped in the gridlock. Many motorists, commuters and workers were stuck in the traffic.
The protesters were armed with placards bearing different inscriptions like ‘Say No to Police Brutality’.
The protesting youths, who started gathering as early as 6am, took over some other parts of Abeokuta, the state capital, singing solidarity songs. Hip hop artist, Kizz Daniel and Yemi Shodimu, were among the celebrities that participated in the protest. Other locations affected by the protests were Sagamu, Sango-Ota and Ijebu-Ode.
The traffic situation compelled the Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps to release a traffic advisory to motorists and commuters.
In Delta State, hundreds of protesters again stormed the streets of Ughelli, in Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state on Friday, barely one week after a policeman and an unidentified civilian were killed in their earlier protest that turned violent in the metropolis.
The protesters, who returned to the streets in a larger number, declared that their renewed action was in solidarity with other protesters across the country. Private security personnel were seen monitoring the gathering to prevent hoodlums from hijacking it.
In Calabar, the Cross River State capital, the protest continued for the fifth day on Friday with youths carrying various placards condemning police brutality.
The protesters, who had placards with various inscriptions, marched through major streets of Calabar such as Marian Road and Mary Slessor Avenue. The protest disrupted traffic on the roads as motorists had to look for alternative routes.
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, protesters observed Jumaat service at the popular Olaiya Junction, Osogbo as the protest paralysed business activities across the state capital.
The protesters had blocked Olaiya Junction around 10am and prevented vehicular movement for several hours. Many commuters had to look for alternative routes to avoid the traffic jam. Gunshots were also heard among the protesters, as one of them holding a Dane gun shot into the air.
The leader of the protesters, Olawale Bakare, told Saturday PUNCH that all officers and men of the defunct SARS should be made to declare their assets, urging government to also investigate assets linked to them.
In Oyo State, activities were paralysed in parts of Ibadan, the state capital as the protesters continued with their clamour for better governance and end to police brutality.
The protesters, comprising youths, gathered at the Challenge Roundabout chanting anti-SARS songs. Vehicular movements were paralysed for several hours as parts of the roads were blocked. The protesting youths were seen with drinks and refreshments.
It was learnt that participants would be entertained on Saturday while special church services would be held at different rallying points on Sunday.
The PDP, led by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, who was on a condolence visit to Governor Seyi Makinde, described the agitation by the youths as a “right step in the right direction.”
The state Deputy Governor, Rauf Olaniyan, also called for a proper reform of the police.
In Enugu State, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra called on Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State to set up a fresh panel of inquiry on the Ezu River killings allegedly committed by personnel of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
The group said the victims were its members and that they were willing to testify and even expose other atrocious acts of SARS and the police in the South-East.
A statement by the group’s National Director of Information, Edeson Samuel, alleged that the murderous acts were carried out under the alleged supervision of ASP James Nwafor (retd.), a former aide of Governor Obiano.
In Kaduna State, organisers of the #EndInsecurityNow, the Coalition of Northern Group, has asked the #EndSARS protesters to relocate to the North.
The CNG said the #EndSARS protesters should join them in protesting against the unending killings, kidnapping and armed robbery in the region.
Addressing journalists, the CNG led by Yusuf Amoke, asked the Federal Government to also deploy the same energy used in the disbandment of SARS to end insecurity in the North.
In Sapele, Delta State, the protesters also called on the government to “give solace to Nigerians and uphold their rights to be free from police brutality”. The protest started from Okirighrwe as early as 8.30 am and was still on as at the time of filing this report at about 4.00 pm.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Youth Organisation has called for constructive engagement with the Federal Government and the police on the way forward on policing the country.
Presenting a communiqué of the group at a press conference in Abuja, NYO President, Amb Abdullahi Wali, urged the protesters to suspend their rallies as he called for the establishment of National Youth Development Commission where all issues of major concern affecting the youths shall be jointly addressed by all tiers of government.
Also, the Kaduna State Government has announced the establishment of a judicial panel of inquiry into acts of police brutality in the state, following the resolution of the National Economic Council.
A statement by Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, said on Friday. The statement added that the commission would be inaugurated on Monday, October 19, 2020.
In Adamawa State, reports emerged on Friday that the security personnel attached to a top government official in the state fired at the vehicle conveying protesters.
One of our correspondents who witnessed the incident reported that some of the angry protesters regrouped after the smoke from the gunshot had faded out.
Wike advocates amendment of Police laws, says FG trivialising protesters’ demands
Meanwhile, the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, on Friday called for an amendment of the laws establishing the Nigeria Police Force in order to tackle current security challenges facing the country. He also accused the Federal Government of trivialising the demands of the protesters.
Wike, who stated these while speaking on a television programme in Port Harcourt, said, “We are in a federal system; issues cannot be addressed by the Federal Government giving directives to state governors. There is need for all stakeholders to look at the various laws establishing the police to determine the roles of councils, states and the Federal Government.
The governor later tweeted, “The Federal Government is trivialising the demands by #EndSARS protesters by directing state governors to take charge of Tactical Commands of the police. State governors cannot take charge of Tactical Commands because they cannot employ or discipline anyone who errs.”
He lamented that the state once set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry that indicted some SARS officers but that instead of punishing the indicted officers, the police authorities shielded them and even promoted one to the rank of an Assistant Inspector-General.
In Ekiti State, Governor Kayode Fayemi told the protesters who assembled at Fajuyi Park in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, that his administration was taking steps to ensure justice for victims of police brutality in the state through the setting up a Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS and related abuses in the state. He spoke as EndSARS protesters on Friday stormed major streets of Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, which disrupted the flow of traffic.
Also, the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), called on the Federal Government to dialogue with the protesting youths.
Speaking at ABUAD Farm while addressing farmers across 16 local government areas of the state in commemoration of the World Food Day, Babalola said, “It’s sad that our police authorities could stoop so low to have attacked Nigerians protesting against brutality, extortion and harassment by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.”
UK lawmaker questions agency over financial support for SARS
A member of the British parliament, Kate Osamor, representing Edmonton, has written to seek clarification on the nature of aid the government of United Kingdom, through the office of the Secretary of State, Foreign Affairs, gave to SARS.
The letter, which was circulating in the social media, was written by the British lawmaker on October 15, 2020.
Osamor warned that further assistance should be withheld and called for an audit of what the initial aids were expended on so that the UK government agency would not be unwittingly supporting actions of an agency notorious for human rights violations.
Lagos protesters reject Oluomo’s food, drinks
Meanwhile, protesters at the Lagos State House of Assembly on Friday rejected food and soft drinks sent by the Chairman of the National Union of the Road Transport Workers in the state, Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo. ,,
The rejection was in reaction to an attack unleashed on the protesters by thugs at Ikeja, the state capital, on Thursday, which some people tied to him.
Source: The Punch