Magnus Eze, Enugu, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Fred Ezeh, Benjamin Babine, Abuja, Rose Ejembi, Makurdi, Noah Ebije, Kaduna, Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure and Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Soldiers, police and personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence, yesterday, took over Aya-Nyanya-Mararaba Road in Abuja to stop demonstrations by #EndSARS protesters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At about 9:30am, there was heavy presence of soldiers and policemen under the Nyanya bridge to halt the protest.
Some of the protesters engaged the police and soldiers in a peaceful conversation for some hours. But at about 11am, altercation ensued between Police and #EndSARS protesters at the Nyanya road leading to the policemen beating up some of the protesters.
It was learnt that the confrontation began when protesters waving the Nigerian flag asserted their right to demonstrate peacefully.
At the AYA roundabout, soldiers were stationed very early in the morning with a roadblock erected to frustrate the protest from holding.
An altercation between the protesters and policemen degenerated into a situation where one of the policemen grabbed a club and hit the protest leader.
The protest caused traffic gridlock on the AYA-Nyanya-Keffi Road. It was, however, learnt that the solders were deployed ostensibly to protect the Mogadishu Barracks located on the road.
The Nigerian Army on Sunday had said its ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ which it launched across the country this week was not targeted at the #EndSARS protests.
In Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, thousands of protesters marching towards Government House, were also confronted by soldiers under the Fajuyi bridge leading to a standoff.
As early as 7am, the youths who ignored an earlier police warning issued on Sunday following an attack on a police facility in the state, barricaded every inter-state and inter-city roads.
Most businesses and office activities were shut in Ado Ekiti as youths in their hundreds marched through the streets disrupting vehicular movements along the old and new Garage area, Oja Oba, Fajuyi Park, Okeyinmi, Ijigbo, Basiri, Matthew area, Ajilosun, and overhead bridge linking Ado Ekiti with towns in Oyo, Osun and Lagos states.
Daily Sun learnt that the protesters comprised mostly students, motorcycle riders, commercial drivers, civil society bodies and other unemployed youths.
The protest prevented pupils and students in public and private schools from proceeding to their schools due to the blockade of all access roads.
Scores of civil servants, who were on their way to work became trapped and were seen returning home in frustration.
The protesters carried the Nigerian flags and sang all manners of derisive songs to mock the administration of President Buhari and queried the rationale behind the lopsidedness in the distribution of the nation’s wealth.
…Block Lagos-Ibadan expressway
There was a total lockdown of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as it was barricaded at various points for several.
The protesters also barricaded major roads in Lagos, Ibadan, including Agodi Gate – Mokola Roundabouts, Ojoo-Ajibode Junction, Orogun-UI-Sango Road and caused intractable traffic on the roads.
Commuters travelling to Lagos and those entering Ibadan were stranded. Passengers in Ibadan and Lagos had to trek long distances to get to their destinations.
The protesters reiterated their calls for end to police brutality.
“We asked for an end to SARS and the Inspector General of Police has dissolved the squad. We are also asking for the reform of the police because the policemen that served in the disbanded SARS, will be absorbed into the mainstream of the Nigeria Police and without the police reform, the regular policemen and policewomen can also engage in brutality.
“The police are to protect us, not to kill us or turn us to physically challenged persons. Dissolution of SARS is not enough. Enough is enough for police brutality against the citizens. We need police reform.
“The National Assembly should begin work on how this country will have star police to tackle rising insecurity in Nigeria. This is the kind of police reform we are asking for. The name of President Muhammadu Buhari will be written in gold if he allows state police to come to reality during his tenure of office,” one of them said.
Military intervention may worsen situation, CAN warns
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has warned the Federal Government against any attempt to deploy military to intervene in the ongoing nationwide protest by youths against police brutality.
The warning may not be unconnected with the planned nationwide ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ recently announced by the military.
CAN expressed fears that such decision in a civil matter could further aggravate the already tensed situation resulting in more casualties on both side of the divide.
CAN President, Dr. Samson Ayokunle Olasupo, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, commended the peaceful nature of the protest and appealed to the youths to sustain the peaceful nature of the protest.
The association acknowledged the sacrifices of time, money and other risks taken by the youths in their quest for a reformed Nigerian police and an egalitarian society.
It also demanded that the Inspector General of Police suspend the implementation of SWAT until sanity is restored and all officers, rank and file who were members of disbanded SARS should be screened administratively to unmask the rotten eggs among them with a view to sanctioning culprits.
Lagos shuts schools
Lagos Government has directed all pupils/students in public and private schools to stay at home following the tension generated by the anti- SARS protests.
Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo, who issued the directive on Monday, said the safety of the pupils/students, parents and all staff working in schools was paramount at this critical period.
She, however, advised parents to keep an eye on their wards and not allow them to be used as willing tools in the hands of those who might want to hijack the protests to unleash mayhem on the society.
The commissioner also encouraged schools to utilise other means of distance teaching and learning such as radio, television and online media as they were doing during and post COVID-19 lockdown.
She said a new date of resumption for all classes will be announced as soon as possible.
CP calls for caution as protest turns violent
Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has appealed to community leaders, parents and guardians, as well as traditional and religious leaders to caution youths against violence.
In a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the EndSARS protest was gradually becoming violent as protesters descended on some policemen attached to the command’s Rapid Response Squad (RRS) at Adekunle, Yaba.
“97 policemen, who are being conveyed to their various beats on routine relief duties across the state, came across the violent protesters, who started shouting, ‘No Police, No Police’ and stoning them.
“19 of the policemen are critically injured, while four police vehicles have been damaged.
“The policemen, who scampered for safety, have been rescued and rushed to the Police Clinic at Panti, Yaba, for medical attention.”
He condemned the attack and urged officers and men of the command to remain calm while they continue to manage the situation professionally.
Buhari must address protesters
Elder statesman and former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo, has called on President Buhari to listen and dialogue with Nigerian youths protesting an end to police brutality in the country.
He also appealed to elders, religious and traditional leaders to intervene in the current national crisis to save the nation.
The former minister of Youths and Sports, who spoke in Enugu, yesterday, urged President Buhari not to use the military against the protesters and tasked the army to turn their guns on “our enemies and not on our youths.”
The elder statesman described the number of lives lost daily it the protest as heartbreaking.
“Mr. President, please do not allow our next generation and most valuable assets to be wasted in this most painful manner. Listen to the agitation of these youths and find a way to address them. It is time to speak out, the number of human beings, not animals but human beings, killed and are still being killed daily is heartbreaking. The solution is not to raise a counter group to attack the protesters and heighten the crisis. I believe it is time to address the nation and reassure these young boys and girls that their lives are important and secure, and that they have a bright future.
“As parents, we should imagine that these youths being wasted are our own children. It is time to address this situation and ignore and do away with evil advisers who want this country inflamed. Elders, religious leaders of all faiths, stakeholders, and all well-meaning Nigerians should please intervene and save this degenerating situation. The army should face our enemies not our youths. The president should reassure our youths that they have a future,” he said. Nwobodo said he had received calls from overseas, asking “is this happening in your country?”
Protesters in Abuja block CBN HQ
Protests have continued to gather momentum as protesters marched on the headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as early as 8am demanding implementation of police reforms.
Eme Affiah, one of the protesters said government wanted to stop the protests more than they wanted to stop police brutality.
“The government clearly don’t care about the masses, because if they did, we won’t still be protesting on the eleventh day. When it was time to remove bikes and kekes from the city, it didn’t take them more than two days.
“But when it comes to simply heeding our request to EndSARS who are killing people, they are slow. In fact they are hiring thugs to kill peaceful protesters.”
NBM tasks FG on sustainable police reforms
The National leadership of the Neo-Black Movement of Africa (NBM Worldwide) has tasked the Federal Government, IGP and the Police Service Commission to engage on an all inclusive stakeholder’s participation towards a holistic and sustainable reform of policing in Nigeria.
A statement by the NBM President, Mr. Felix Kupa, said the movement stand in solidarity with Nigerians in the #ENDSARS protest by resisting the unprofessional conduct of the now dissolved SARS whose operations have led to the infringement of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.