Jude Chinedu, Enugu
Thousands of youths in Enugu State on Tuesday joined their counterpart across the country in protest against the now banned Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protest, which was led by notable entertainers including Phyno, Flavour, Zoro and KayCee, attracted over 5,000 who were seen displaying placards and chanting solidarity songs to register their displeasure over police brutality.
The protesters, who were mostly dressed in white shirts, marched from Okpara Square to the State Police headquarters where they were addressed by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Ahmed Abdurahman.
Abdurahman, who admitted that the Nigeria Police Force needs reforms which are already ongoing commended the protesters for displaying a high level of maturity by their peaceful conduct.
He revealed that the command had in the past dismissed about nine officers who had been found guilty of brutalising citizens, an action which was meant to serve as deterrent to others.
Musician, Mr Chinedu Okoli, popularly known as “Flavour”, had earlier listed the demands of the youths to include an immediate release of all #EndSARS protesters, prosecution of guilty SARS operatives and psychological evaluation of former SARS operatives, among others.
There was a mild drama at Enugu State Government House when the State Deputy Governor, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo, attempted to address the protesters as the youths insisted on being addressed by the State Governor.
The Deputy Governor, who later addressed the protesters, hailed them for effecting the needed change in police operation through their justified protests.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Chief Uchenna Ubosi, who addressed the protesters at the Assembly complex revealed the house had deliberated on the matter earlier in the morning.
He said that the House was in support of efforts geared towards reforming the police force so it could operate with a human face.
Enugu Police spokesman Mr Daniel Ndukwe had in a statement on Monday night warned youths in the State to desist from joining the scheduled protest as there were plans by hoodlums to hijack it to cause havock in the State.
Part of the statement reads:
‘The Commissioner notes that the warning is sequel to credible information gathered that miscreants are perfecting plans to hinged on and/or hijack the proposed “#EndSARS” protest and wreck havoc in the State.
‘He reiterates that such acts aimed at scuttling the hitherto peace and tranquility enjoyed in the State, will be vehemently resisted; while warning that anyone found wanting, will be made to face the full weight of the law.’