From Tony Osauzo, Benin
Two persons were reportedly killed on Monday in Benin when suspected hoodlums hijacked the #EndSARS protest and broke into the Benin Prison along Sapele road and freed several inmates in one of the cells.
They were said to have been killed when the armed squad of Nigeria Correctional Services engaged the hoodlums in gun fire. Some other persons reportedly sustained injuries in the ensuing confusion.
The hoodlums were also said to have vandalized the High Court 4 which is beside the prison.
They were said to have started gathering along Sapele Road beside the prison as early as 7 am setting bonfires and sending back motorists and other road users.
They launched their attack when their number had increased considerably, broke a part of the wall while some climbed the fence into the prison yard.
A few of the inmates escaped with gunshots while an elderly man was recaptured while walking away like a passerby.
Earlier, protesters shut pupils and students out of schools, following blockades mounted on streets roads which prevented vehicular movement and parents from accessing schools in the Edo State capital.
Consequently, most schools failed to open, forcing some pupils and students who found their way to their schools early, to return home.
Similarly, residents, workers, traders could not leave their homes yesterday, with resultant imminent hunger and starvation in the offing, even as many motorists and commercial drivers are off the roads for fear of being molested and extorted by hoodlums who have clearly hijacked the initial peaceful protest.
The entire Benin City is on complete lockdown as protest points were set up in the various road networks such as Airport Road, Akenzua/Plymouth Road, Ring Road; Siluoko Road, Akpakpava by First, Second, Ekenwan Third East roads.
In all the points, the messages by the protesters remained the same: “No to SARS” and “Buhari must go”.
Circulation vans of the various newspaper bringing the dailies to the city had a tough time passing the blockades along the ever busy Benin-Lagos expressway, where the blockades have stretched up to the Ovia River axis, some kilometres away from the University of Benin main gate, which used to be the first point of convergence when the protest broke out 13 days ago.
Most of the streets and roads are completely deserted, even as shop owners fail to open for business.
Mrs Grace Eromonsele, a provision shop owner at the Popular Oba Market, Ring Road, Benin, lamented that her family might experience hunger should the protest continue, saying “na daily money I dey chop. If I no sell, I no go chop. I beg make una help us beg Buhari make he answer the youth” (I depend on daily income and if I don’t sell in a day, I won’t eat. Please help us beg Buhari to respond to the demands of the youth).
One of the protesters at Ugbiyoko, Julius Ehighiator, who runs a business centre at Akpakpava, said that he was ready to endure the hardship “as long as we have a better country at the end of the day.
“I am into business centre because there is no job. It doesn’t matter how long this protest takes. All we want us a better country, better government and equal opportunity for everybody. This is no longer about the police but about the future of our children”, Ehigiator, a graduate oof Business Administration from Auchi Polytechnic said.