Tony John, Port Harcourt
Thousands of #EndSARS campaign protesters have paralyzed business activities for several hours in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, causing gridlock on major roads in the city.
The mass demonstration came into effect less than 24-hours after State Governor Nyesom Wike banned all protests throughout the State.
Governor Wike had, in a statement issued by the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said the State Government took the decision because the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had already disbanded the controversial federal Sepcial Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), accused of abuses and misconduct by Nigerians.
The Rivers Governor advised parents and guardians to ensure that their children or wards did not violate the prohibition order against protests.
The Governor directed law enforcement agencies to ensure that the ban was enforced and violators brought to book.
He declared that ‘all proposed protests under #End SARS Campaign are hereby prohibited. There is no need for any form of protest against a Unit of the Police Force that no longer exists.’
Defying the Governor’s orders, however, thousands of protesters went ahead to stage a demonstration.
While the State Police Command deployed personnel to strategic areas in the State capital to ensure compliance with the Governor’s order, the #EndSARS campaigners initiated their demonstration from the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, Aba Road, and terminated at the Government House, with heavy security mounted as barricade.
The protesters, in their black attires, chanted “End SARS brutality”, “iPhone no bi gun”, and “Send SARS to Sambisa”, with several of them carrying placards with different inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Why do I get beaten for being masculine and perceived gay”, “My brother, Solomon Yellowe, was killed by SARS after an ATM withdrawal”, “End Police brutality” and “Reform NPF”.
At the time of filing the report, the protesters were still at the Government House roundabout. No government official or police personnel has addressed them. And no violence has so far been recorded.