Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Scores of demonstrators stormed major streets in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Saturday as part of nationwide protests calling for an end to the operations of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
The protesters, who began their demonstration from Panseke Area of the metropolis, went through Omida, Sapon and the Ake Palace.
Armed with placards with various inscriptions, the protesters chanted songs to demand an end to the operations of the anti-robbery squad which has been accused of abuses.
The demonstrators had stopped at the Government House to express their grievances, but the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, was not on ground to attend to them.
Police officers were deployed in strategic locations across Abeokuta to ensure that the protest was not hijacked by hoodlums.
The protest eventually devolved into a riot when participants stormed the palace of the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, venue of the 2020 Owu Day Festival, and vandalised the official vehicle of Ogun Deputy Governor Noimot Salako Oyedele, and also injured a police officer.
Sunday Sun gathered that the demonstrators barricaded the entrance of the palace where the event was taking place to seek an audience with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was attending the event.
According to an eyewitness account, the Deputy Governor’s vehicle was vandalised by the rioters where it was parked. The Deputy Governor was inside the Olowu’s Palace when the incident occurred.
‘From what I was able to gather, the protesters broke off from the main protest going on within Abeokuta metropolis and moved to the Olowu’s palace.
‘The protesters almost turned the event bloody. They stormed the venue but were not allowed entry and they inflicted serious injury on one of the police officers.
‘The other officers later shot into the air to disperse the protesters who were adamant even after the intervention of Obasanjo.
‘Three of the protesters were later arrested while others escaped,’ the eye witness told our correspondent.
The Ogun State Police Commissioner, Edward Ajogun, later rushed to the palace to restore order, with the injured police officer taken to the hospital for medical attention.