Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
At least two persons killed dead and scores of others sustained varying degrees of gunshot injury on Friday in Benin, Edo state, as hoodlums hijacked the #EndSARS protest in the city. One of the victims was simply identified as Ikpomwosa.
The protest by hundreds of youths which began on a peaceful note at the city centre, later turned bloody, as the hoodlums clashed with the protesting youths.
The hoodlums were said to have suddenly appeared with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons to attack the protesters.
While some of the protesting youths took to their heels, others stayed back to persuade the hoodlums that the peaceful protest was for all the youths and that they were not out to fight anybody.
It was further learnt that the hoodlums who were clad in red T-shirt, were saying “why are they disturbing our work,” and in the process brought guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons to attack the protesting youths. Some of those who received gunshot injuries in the ensuing violence were later rushed to the nearby Central Hospital, while the body of Ikpomwosa was conveyed in an ambulance through the Reservation Road to the Government House.
One of the injured persons, Abere Godswill, during the attack, said the hoodlums descended on him thinking he wanted to video record them while removing cutlasses from their vehicle.
“I didn’t join the protest, I was coming from the bank when I met them on the road. Because I held phone in my hand, they started beating me saying I wanted to video them. They collected the phone and I had to run for my life,” he said
The youths however, later regrouped after the hoodlums had been chased away and continued the protest. Also speaking, one of the protesters, Efosa Igbinoba, said they were at the Ring Road to protest police brutality and good governance in Nigeria, only to be attacked by hoodlums.
“We started the protest from Sapele Road, but on getting to the Ring Road, hoodlums just appeared from nowhere with cutlasses and guns to attack us and disrupt the protest.
“Our demands are, don’t end SARS and come with SWAT. Police should be reformed as well as reduction of salary of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate,” he said.
Another protester, Victoria Nkechi, (60), said she is on the street to support the youths in their protest for good governance. “Years ago, I called for protest due to bad governance, but nobody listened to me. Today, I am glad that they are protesting for good governance,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has condemned the attack on #EndSARS protesters in Benin City by unidentified hoodlums, noting that a thorough investigation would commence immediately to bring the culprits to justice.
The governor, in a statement, charged the Edo State Police Command to come out in full force to provide adequate security to the protesters, as they were exercising their rights as concerned citizens of Nigeria.
According to him, “I have just learnt that hoodlums have attacked #ENDSARS protesters, who have conducted themselves peacefully in Benin City. I extend condolences to the victims of the attacks, including those who lost their lives and others who were injured by the thugs.
“It is disheartening that anyone would attack a peaceful assembly of young people who are expressing genuine concerns over police brutality and intimidation in their own country.
“I hereby call on the Edo State Police Command to get out on the streets and provide adequate security for the protesters and ensure that no one is harassed in the course of exercising their rights.”