Tony Osauzo, Benin
Two persons were reportedly killed Tuesday in Benin City when protesters defied the State Government’s 24-hour curfew and engaged policemen at Santana Market, along Sapele road.
It was a battle of wits when police tried to disperse the protesters who in turn tried to resist, with people scampering on the road between Santana and The Limit junction.
The protesters also reportedly burnt down a Customs outpost at Ekiadolor near Benin.
This comes amid tightened security in parts of Benin and adjoining towns in the State following the violent turn of the #EndSARS protests, with hoodlums leading jailbreaks at two correctional centres and burning seven police stations.
Soldiers and anti-riot policemen, as well as men of the State correctional centres, have been deployed to major roads and streets of the town to maintain law and order and enforce the curfew imposed by the State Government.
There were indications that eagle-eyed plainclothes operatives of the State Police Command and correctional centres had been deployed in search of fleeing inmates of the two prisons which were broken into by a mob, leading to the escape of over 1,500 inmates.
Meanwhile, the Edo State Government has warned that the 24-hour (round-the-clock) curfew imposed in the State on Monday, October 19, is active until further notice.
‘As such, everyone is expected to remain indoors,’ the Government stated, stressing that ‘security agencies have been deployed in the streets to ensure full compliance and anyone found contravening the directive will be dealt with according to the law.’
The Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, in a statement in Benin, urged parents and guardians to restrain their children, wards and youths from flouting the order, as security agencies would not spare any errant individual.
He reminded all that the curfew was imposed on Monday when the #EndSARS protests turned violent, leading to two jailbreaks and the burning of at least five police stations within the Benin metropolis, as well as various degrees of public disturbances in other major cities across the State.
‘The authorities are yet to confirm the total number of inmates released to the streets, as investigations are still ongoing, which necessitate the shutdown in the state,’ Osagie said, adding that ‘the State Government is committed to maintaining law and order and protecting lives and property in the state, and urges Edo citizens and residents to obey the directives for the collective good of all.’
All major roads leading to the King Square (Ring Road) were deserted with litters of burnt spots and woods with which hoodlums and protesters had used to make bonfires and blockades the previous days within the town and major streets.
Notwithstanding the curfew in the State, some defiant street urchins and youths mounted roadblocks at distant locations away from areas where security was mounted by soldiers and other security agencies.
But security was beefed up at strategic locations and government buildings such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) building and other Banks located along Akpakpava road and the two Correctional Centers on Sapele road, Airport road and other areas.
Motorists and pedestrians were seen being turned back by the security operatives for failure to explain their mission to their various destinations, just as Soldiers mounted patrol to some areas considered as flash points.
The Police Aerial Monitoring team with Helicopter on Tuesday morning patrolled the city, even as commercial vehicles and others trooped out for brisk business before 4 pm enforcement of the curfew.
At Joromi junction by Ekenwan road, youths who defied the stay at home order mounted roadblocks with bonfires, extorting money from motorists.
They also tied a live goat and made a fire place with a big pot placed on it to cook rice to share and eat among themselves.
Bonfires and blockades were set at several junctions along Sakponba and Upper Sakponba as well as New Benin areas by the rampaging youths.