Murphy Ganagana, Abuja
As the government is taking stock and private business owners counting their losses on the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest that became widespread after the black Tuesday October 10 soldiers attacks of youths on peaceful protest at Lekki tollgate in Lagos, the police are not left out in the monumental loss. Indeed, Sunday Sun investigation revealed that the Nigeria police lost a lot in both men and material.
It would be recalled that the problem started on Saturday, October 3, 2020, at about 1:00p.m, when a team of policemen attached to Operation Safe Delta (OSD) on vehicular patrol along the Ughelli-Warri road in Ughelli, headquarters of Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, noticed a white Lexus 350 RX Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) that made a U-turn and drove off on high speed on sighting them.
The manner in which the driver suddenly reversed and sped off was said to have aroused suspicion of the patrol team, which went on a hot chase and eventually caught up with the SUV.
Upon the arrest, the two occupants identified as Joshua Ambrose and Ovie Odafe, were being taken to the police station in Ughelli for investigation when suddenly, Ambrose, said to be the driver of the Lexus SUV, reportedly jumped off the moving police van and fell on the ground, thereby sustaining injuries on the head and other parts of his body.
The scenario, it was reported, attracted an angry mob, which allegedly attempted to attack the police patrol team, forcing the cops to beat a retreat for their safety. They moved to the ‘A’ Division police station in Ughelli with the second suspect in their custody and the SUV.
While the incident lasted, a 39-year-old man, Makolomi Nicholas, played the patriot. Using his Samsung S8 mobile phone, he did a video recording from when the policemen started chasing the Lexus SUV till the occupants were arrested and the fall of Ambrose from the police van en route the police station. Though the victim was eventually rescued and taken alive to Lili Hospital, a private health facility in Warri, about 20 minutes drive from Ughelli, for treatment, Nicholas, an indigene of Ughelli, provided the needed tonic for a mob action.
He allegedly posted a video on his Facebook: Prince Makolomi Nicholas, claiming that police operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) had shot dead Ambrose, the driver of the Lexus SUV.
The dust raised by his post enveloped the urban community with the speed of lightning and triggered a chain of protests by the youths, demanding an end to police brutality and scrapping of the dreaded SARS unit. On Thursday, October 8, the #EndSARS protest at Ughelli turned violent at about 3:30pm, when several police patrol teams deployed in Otovwodo junction, a busy district in the town, to forestall a breakdown of law and order, allegedly came under attack by the protesters.
Etaga Stanley, a police corporal with Force number 504638 who was attached to the ‘A’ Division Ughelli became the first victim of the #EndSARS protest. He was killed and his AK-47, his service rifle with breach No. 562609008 and 25 rounds of live ammunition carted away. Patrick Okuone, a police sergeant with Force number 424818 attached to the police Eaglenet squad of the state police command was also allegedly shot during the fracas in which several patrol vehicles were said to have been damaged.
Barely 24 hours later, precisely at about 8:00p.m on Friday, October 9, Augustine Osawe, a police sergeant attached to Police Mobile Force (PMF) 51 Oghara, Delta State, was shot and killed on the spot while on duty along the Eku/Abraka road in Delta State with two of his colleagues. The attackers, who struck in a bus, reportedly went away with his AK47 service rifle marked 06571 and 30 rounds of live ammunition.
The attack on policemen continued daily in Delta State, with an Inspector, Abdullahi Mohammed attached to 39PMF Birni Kebbi, falling victim on Sunday, October 11. The late Mohammed was on special duty in the state and on guard duty at Ovalaux Shopping Mall, Osubi, Warri, when he was killed at about 11:30a.m while standing in front of the Mall. His AK47 rifle and 30 rounds of ammunition were also taken away by his killers. Four days later, Kpadura Obasanmi, also an Inspector of police with AP/No. 17932 attached to 61PMF Kotangora on special duty in Delta and guard duty at Exclusive Filling Station, Deco Road, Warri, was killed on Thursday, October 15. His AK-47 rifle with breech No. 15625 as well as 30 rounds of live ammunition was reportedly stolen from the scene. Also in Delta, protesters on Thursday October 22 invaded the Correctional Centre in Warri, during which 26 inmates escaped, according to reports. The value of property destroyed had yet to be ascertained.
The protest which commenced in Edo State on Thursday, October 8, became violent on the eleventh day when hoodlums allegedly blocked all roads in Benin, the state capital, and commenced a coordinated attack on police formations, carting away some weapons. The Ugbekun Divisional headquarters and Idogbo outpost were set ablaze on October 19, just as the Textile Mill and Oba Market police divisions were invaded and vandalized, while police and exhibit vehicles were torched on the same day.
Three days later, the Ewohimi police station came under attack during which an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Lucky Igbinogun was shot.
Earlier on October 20, protesters reportedly attacked three policemen, including Corporal Rasaki Akeyan, an orderly to the Imo State Commissioner of Police, while they were travelling along the Benin-Asaba road. Akeyan lost his service pistol with breech No J. 54550 Z, but he is alive to tell his story. On Monday, October 19, the Nigerian Correctional Centre in Benin was attacked and some inmates freed. 48 hours later, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) office on Upper Sakponba Road was vandalized and burnt.
In Ebonyi State, a vicious attack was launched on the Ohaukwu Police Area Command headquarters at about 5:00a.m on October 14, which left the acting Area Commander, CSP Chinedum Onuoha unconscious after being fatally wounded. The invaders reportedly inflicted severe machete cuts on his head and left side of his eye. They snatched his AK-47 rifle loaded with rounds of live ammunition, and another AK-47 rifle in possession of one of the station guards, Inspector Daniel Mbam. A Constable, Iyrji Stanley, also suffered severe machete cuts.
At about 2:30p.m on Wednesday, October 21, hoodlums under the guise of the #EndSARS protest reportedly set ablaze Kpirikpiri police divisional headquarters and also attacked Ekumenyi Division, both on rented property. They allegedly went away with about 10 motorcycles and set the station on fire, with three exhibit cars. The next day, over 300 persons allegedly invaded the Ohaozara police station at about 3:00p.m. A police Sergeant, Emmanuel Amah sustained injuries on his head, as the invaders moved to a newly constructed police outpost where they torched a police vehicle and carted away exhibit motorbikes.
The Ngor Okpala Police Division in Imo State came under attack on October 7, during which a rifle was snatched from an Inspector, Ade Dauda, and a police constable with Force number 512383 fatally injured. While on guard duty on October 20, Inspector Udobon Sunday was reportedly shot at the Isu Division by suspected hoodlums who also carted away his AK-47 rifle. The next day, the Mbaitoli Police Division was set ablaze when over 200 persons allegedly invaded the divisional headquarters at about 12:45p.m. Reports indicated that two soldiers at a military checkpoint also lost their lives on the same day and their patrol van set on fire.
In Cross River State, the protests took a riotous dimension on Saturday, October 24, with coordinated attacks in Calabar, the state capital, and three local government areas –Akpabuyo, Bakassi and Odukpani. The Akpabuyo, Bakassi, Okpai Omin police divisions and Okurikang police post which was not functional, were set ablaze almost simultaneously, alongside a Federal Highway Patrol vehicle. An Inspector of Police, Benjamin Nkereuwem, who was declared missing with his rifle when the Bakassi Division came under attack was later found dead. Other arms and ammunition including an assault rifle with breech number 26802 with 30 rounds of live ammunition, one Ak-47 rifle marked 5007636 with 15 rounds of ammunition and two Tekoruv pistols, were carted away. The invaders also allegedly burnt a police patrol vehicle and two exhibit vehicles, and went away with seven exhibit motorcycles, a generator, computer, air-conditioner and other items at the Bakassi Police Division. At least three banks and the Tinapa Business Resort were also vandalized during the rampage in the state.
Mayhem was also unleashed on Orifite Police Area Command and six divisions, including Ezinifite, Osumenyi, Amichi, Ukpor and Awgbu, which were all burnt between 8:30a.m and 6:00p.m on Friday, October 23. At Osumenyi Division, the divisional police officer (DPO), CSP Akpan Joseph and the station officer (SO), ASP Michael Agu, were killed in the attack which the police alleged, was perpetrated by suspected members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) under the guise of the #EndSARS protest. Two days earlier, three police vehicles were burnt and exhibit motorcycles carted away when both the Nnewi Police Station and Area Command came under attack.
In Enugu State, the protests escalated into violence at about 1:30p.m on October 21, when police stations, banks and other facilities became targets. By 4:00p.m, the Emene police station was razed and its armourer, Inspector Jessy John shot dead. The rioters set his corpse on fire and carted away his rifle. A police patrol vehicle was burnt, among others at the station. At Abakpa area, a police constable, Emma Igboji, attached to the Department of Operations at the state police command headquarters was killed and his corpse also burnt, while property at the Amaechi Idodo Police Station were vandalized on Thursday October 22, when protesters invaded the station at about 3:30p.m.
The police watched helplessly in Rivers State when thick balls of flame enveloped the Oyigbo police station and Police Area Command in attacks between October 20 and 21. When the smoke cleared, three police officers laid dead while an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), 10 patrol and other vehicles parked within the stations were burnt. A magistrate and high court at Komkom, as well as the DSS office at Obeama were also reported torched.
Four police officers attached to 55PMF, Aba, came under a blistering attack on October 19, while on duty at APC point on Asa Road in the commercial city of Abia State. A police sergeant, Sunday Agu, with Force number 461816, was killed on the spot during the attack which left two others, Anthony Uzong and Edet Adakama, both sergeants, critically injured.
The protests snowballed into violence in Lagos State on October 12, leaving six policemen dead and 38 injured at the last count. Three Police Inspectors AP/Nos. 175493 Ekein Joshua with AP number 175493, Peter Agabi( AP number251138) and Erinfolami Ayodeji (AP number 229241), were shot and seriously wounded when hoodlums allegedly invaded the defunct police anti-kidnapping unit on Iyun Road, Western Avenue, Surulere, Lagos. Inspector Erinfolami eventually lost his life. Other police officers killed included ASP Yard Edward, attached to Denton Police Station; Inspector Adegbenro Aderibigbe (Meiran Division), Sergeant Abejide Abiodun of Department of Operations (DOPs), state police headquarters and two others attached to Orile Division.
The state police command reportedly lost 16 stations and 58 police vehicles to arsonists, while 13 vehicles were vandalized. The burnt police stations are: Orile, Amukoko, Layeni, old Area J Command Ajah, Elemoro, new Area J Command Elemoro, Igando, Ebute-Ero, its barracks and Ilasamaja police stations. Others are Makinde and its barracks, Ikotun, Isokoko, Pen-Cinema, Onipanu and Alade Police Stations, while Cele, llogbo-Elerin, Shibiri, defunct Anti-Cultism office, Gbagada, defunct SARS office, Onilekere, Makoko, Daleko, Ashamu, Makinyo, Amuwo-Odofin and old SARS office, Ajegunle, PPL, Mowo, Morogbo, Ikota and Marwa police posts were vandalized.
A gunshot fired by the leader of a team of policemen on convoy patrol at a barricade mounted by protesters along the Atan/Idiroko road in Ogun State, triggered a mob action at about 9:30a.m on October 21, when a bullet allegedly hit one of the protesters. Angered, the Atan-Ota police station was razed in a jiffy. The divisional police officer (DPO) and divisional crime officer (DCO), Augudstine Ugbeche, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), were fatally injured. Ugbeche reportedly died hours later. The protesters simultaneously attacked the Obada divisional police headquarters, vandalizing the building and allegedly looting items. Two days later, the police post and Civil Defence office at Idogo village were attacked and set ablaze.
In Ekiti State, #EndSARS protesters allegedly attacked the Police Area Command, Ikere Ekiti, at about 1:00p.m on Saturday, October 17. The police said the perimeter fence, window glasses and four vehicles parked in the premises were destroyed during the invasion. Three days later, flames billowed from the Afao Ikere Ekiti police station in an attack in which several police patrol vehicles and three others, including the DPO’s private car were torched. Vital documents, the exhibit room, computers and the DPO’s uniforms among others, were carted away.
A police Toyota Prado SUV registered PF5616 was burnt while two other police vehicles were damaged at Isale-Osun area of Osun State on October 17 in an encounter with #EndSARS protesters in which 16 vehicles of the Government House were damaged. The state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, escaped the attack in a hair’s breath. An Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Lawal Rasak, was among five occupants of the burnt police vehicle. He was inflicted with multiple machete cuts. On Wednesday, October 21, the Railway police station in Osogbo, the state capital came under attack in which an AK-47 rifle and a smoke pistol were carted away. However, unconfirmed reports indicated that the weapons had been recovered.
The wave of violence occasioned by the #EndSARS protests swept through Yaba Police Division in Ondo State at about 7:00a.m on October 21, when protesters attacked the station, setting ablaze a Police Officers’ Wives Association (POWA) shopping complex and vehicles parked within the police station. The Police “B” Division, Owo, was also vandalized and 24 hours later police stations at Okitipupa, Ore, Oda, and the marine police office also at Okitipupa were invaded and vandalized.
Sunday Sun investigations indicated that no loss was recorded as a result of the #EndSARS protests in police commands in most states in the northern flank of the country, except in Adamawa, where a police sergeant, Yusuf Ali with Force number 420667 on guard at Sorau police station lost his AK-47 rifle breech number 8903 and 60 rounds of ammunition to an attack which left him with severe machete cuts.
In Kano State, the DPO, Sabon Gari Division sustained injuries while POWA shops were burnt on Tuesday, October 20.