Agitations spread nationwide (photos)

The ENDSARS protest, which failed to end with IGP Mohammed Adamu’s dissolution of the special police squad, has now spread across the country.

Angry protesters, mainly youths, yesterday, continued with their march, calling on Federal Government to address police brutality holistically, reward victims and reform the architecture of governance.

Activities were grounded in major cities, including Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where the National Assembly initiated budgetary provision for victims as Senate mourned the dead and honoured ‘matyrs’ of ENDSARS protests. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the House was planning to make budgetary provision to compensate victims of the ENDSARS agitation.

President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, said the nationwide protests against killings and brutality against citizens remained within the ambit of the law.

Lawan assured that those found culpable of Police brutality against Nigerians would be brought to face the weight of the law.

Apart from Lagos and FCT, traffic and some economic activities were, yesterday, disrupted in southwest states of Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti; the South South states of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Edo and Delta . The Southeast states of Enugu and Ebonyi also experienced massive protests, the same for the northern states of Kaduna, Borno Kano, where there were counter protests to sustain SARS.

Borno State Network for Civil Society Organisations (NCSO) specifically kicked against disbandment of the special anti-robbery squad and demanded that the unit be brought to the state to fight insurgency. It said the positive roles played by SARS in the Northeast had reduced Boko Haram insurgency and helped to protect lives and property in the last 10 years. But Northeast elders yesterday said the ENDSARS protests festered nationwide, because of frustration over the worsening insecurity.

Under the aegis of the Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development (CNEEPD), the elders said scrapping the police unit was not the end to insecurity. They, instead, called for general restructuring of the sector, beginning with outright removal of service chiefs as the best way to move forward.

This came as the elders kicked against the move by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai to launch a new operation, Code-named “Operation Fireball,” to tackle insecurity in the Northeast.

In the statement signed by its National Chairman, Engr Zana Goni, the group said the declaration by Buratai to launch the operation was diversionary, saying it was “new wine in an old bottle.”

IN other parts of the country, the demands were the same: Osun protesters paraded a mock coffin with the photograph of the country’s leader. Commercial activities in major parts of Osogbo and Ile-Ife cities were paralysed, as Nigerian youths protesting Police brutality occupied the streets.

They turned the #EndSARS protest into carnival of sorts as they danced. Despite heavy downpour, the activists stood their grounds and continued their protest.

The protesters, in their hundreds, took over the popular Olaiya Junction, the heart of Osogbo and mounted large loud speakers while a disc jockey was dazzling them with assorted songs.

The youths had assembled at Olaiya around 10am and barricaded all roads around. They denied motorists and motorcyclists access to the roads.

Amid chants of #ENDSARSNOW, the protesters engaged themselves in a dancing competition for fun. This development attracted passersby who crowded the protest area to feed their eyes.

While the dancing and jubilation were ongoing, another group of youths stormed the scene and started chanting anti-government songs.

They called for a total reform of the Police Force, saying that the disbandment of SARS should go beyond announcements. The agitations brought commercial activities to a standstill as shops were shut immediately the protesters stormed Olaiya. The protesters displayed a mock coffin.

As at 3:40pm, there was no sight of any security agency at the scenes of the protest.

Also in Ile-Ife, the protesters took to some popular areas, including the ever-busy Ori-Olokun round about, Mayfair causing gridlock as commuters and motorists were stranded.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu (2nd R) speaks to protesters campaigning against abuses by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) at the Lekki toll Plaza in Lagos, on October 12, 2020. Nigerians protested to pressure the government to follow through on disbanding a feared police unit after authorities made the rare concession in the face of widespread anger over abuses.<br />Around 2,000 people blocked one of the main highways in the country’s biggest city Lagos, demanding officials make good on an announcement on October 11, 2020, that the federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was being scrapped. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

ONE of the protesters, Oluwaseun Farombi, said that the announcement made by IGP Adamu was fake. Farombi added that the IG was just deceiving Nigerians and noted that nothing tangible would come out of the dissolution.
He called on government to reform Nigeria Police Force generally and ensure the safety of Nigerians.

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Abass Oyeyemi said they would continue peaceful protests until government decides to do the right things.
It was a mammoth crowd in Ibadan, as a sea of young Nigerians, including members of the Oyo state House of Assembly, artistes, students, joined protests.

The protest reverberated in the city centre and adjoining areas, leading to traffic snarls in places like Mokola, Gate, Iwo Road, Bodija, Queen Elizabeth Road, among others.

Some started their protest at the University of Ibadan gate, some at Iwo Road, other strategic areas in the state capital, climaxing at the Oyo State Secretariat Complex.

Oyo State Coordinator for the Coalition of #Revolution Now, Solomon Emiola who mobilised members of his group from Bodija Housing Estate, joined others at the Oyo State Secretariat and told The Guardian that:”We demand: #SARSMUSTEND, #EndPoliceBrutality, #JusticeForJimoh and Release of arrested innocent youths.”

Lawmaker representing Ibadan North 11 in the Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Adebayo Babajide, was among the protesters. He said he was once a victim of SARS in 2018.

The sea of protestors who besieged the Oyo State Secretariat Complex re-echoed their demands.
The Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan who was accompanied by some top political leaders such the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mohammed Fadeyi; Deputy Chief of Staff, Abdulmojeed Mogbojubola and others, addressed them.

Engr. Olaniyan, who called for calm, said he had been victim of SARS twice. He said:” Me, the man standing before you, I have been a victim of SARS brutality twice and I know what I faced. I know your grievance but I enjoin you all to let our protest go peacefully without any attack.”

The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) yesterday threw its weight behind calls for end to police brutality and urged Federal Government to prosecute erring officers. It also demanded compensation for victims and their families.

It lamented that the Force under President Muhammadu Buhari had failed to shed the brutal character it exhibited under the repressive regime of the Late General Sani Abacha, and revealed plans to demand compensation after compiling the victims list of OPC members killed and maimed by police and other security agents in the last 26 years.

“In the past 26 years, OPC members have been tragic victims in the frontline of police brutality,” Afolabi said. “And our organisation has only shown excessive self-restraint in such provocative and tragic incidents because Dr. Fasehun was a peace-loving citizen and we wanted to avoid disturbing the public peace in a South-West zone whose interest we swore to protect.”

“OPC shall be sending its own victims list to the IGP, Amnesty International and other Human Rights bodies, as well as the Yoruba South-West governors of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Edo, Kwara and Kogi,” Afolabi said.

According to him, since OPC’s formation by Fasehun in 1994, the group had lost thousands of members during demonstrations for the revalidation of the June 12 election won by Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Abiola and annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1993.

“Several OPC members were randomly killed by the Nigerian State and its satanic agents, some on the streets, some in detention and some during police raiding of otherwise peaceful meetings of our group,” Afolabi said.

SEVERAL parts of Enugu metropolis were grounded yesterday as youths in their numbers joined the protests to demand an end to police brutality.

The protesters chanted “End SARS now”, “Reform the Nigeria Police Force”, “Fine Boy no be Criminal,” among others, while marching through different parts of the state.

They took off from Michael Okpara Square and headed for the Enugu State Police Command where they were received by the Commissioner of Police, Ahmad Abdurrahman.

The Guardian, which monitored the protest, observed that vehicular movement and business activities were totally grounded by the protesters within major roads.

Accompanied by popular musician, Chinedu Izuchukwu Okoli, aka Flavour, and many other celebrities, including Chibuzor Nelson Azubuike, aka Phyno, another Igbo rapper Zoro, and Nollywood Actor, Ken Erics, they had, from the police headquarters, marched to the Government House, where they were received by the Deputy governor, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo.

Troops deployed by government to tame #ENDSARS protesters in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO

They later marched to the Enugu State House of Assembly where they were received by the Speaker, Hon. Edward Ubosi.
At the Enugu State House of Assembly, popular Nollywood Actor, Ken Erics, who spoke on behalf of the youths, said the youths were demanding an end to brutality by men in uniform.

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He said it was not a crime for Nigerians to appear in good outfit, adding that all forms of molestation must stop.
Responding, Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Edward Ubosi, said the House was totally against acts of brutality against citizens.

He commended the youths for the peaceful manner they had conducted themselves during the protest.
While noting that the matter was subject of discussion during plenary, he said “we are with you on this; we don’t want SARS any longer.

“We are looking forward to a totally reformed Police that will be lawful in its handling of citizens”, he said.

Kaduna CAN, YCE, Yoruba Ronu differ on persistence in #EndSARS protests
AS the protests persist, Southwest socio-cultural organisations, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum and Kaduna State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) held divergent views on the endless agitations.

In separate encounters with The Guardian yesterday, the three bodies praised protesting youths for summoning the courage to stand up to the excesses of SARS, who have been accused of extra judicial killing of innocent people and other vices.

They however differed on the ground that since the Federal Government had met their demand by disbanding SARS and President Buhari himself addressing the nation according to the demand of the protesters “the civil unrest should have stopped to allow government take necessary steps.”

But a contrary view insisted that the protests must be taken to logical conclusion to ensure that all indicted officers are prosecuted and panel of inquiry set up by government to investigate extent of human rights abuse perpetrated under SARS. Another view also insisted that such action must be taken into electioneering years to send critical message to Nigeria’s political leaders that “we the citizens are not as docile as they perceived us.”

In a statement yesterday, President, Yoruba Ronu, Mr Akin Malaolu said, while there is no doubt that SARS has contributed to addressing the menace, it is equally true that the outfit has been abused from the many tales of extortion, intimidation, overzealousness, and cruelty that citizens have experienced in the hands of SARS operatives.

Although, the group commended President Muhammadu Buhari for responding promptly to the development and for sanctioning the disbanding of SARS and promising reforms, it suggested the need for the administration to set up a committee of eminent citizens, including, past Inspector Generals of Police, retired DIGs, legal practitioners, civil society representatives to probe cases of police-civilian clashes and excesses of SARS.

The group also called on government to direct the Police Service Commission to audit police personnel with a view to delisting those with terrible records, retraining all cadres of personnel, just as it said it was time for the country to come to terms with the reality that a centralised police command for a federation is an anathema. It said that “a centralised policing system in a federal system like ours cannot be effective or efficient and is in need of an urgent replacement for something more compact, contemporary, and confidence-building. Much of policing should be local, whilst big crimes like kidnapping, currency forgery, and insurrection should attract federal attention.”

The group warned that this is not the time for foot-dragging but timely action to douse tension. It admonished the president to learn from history, and do the needful.

However, Secretary General of YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide said the continued protests despite Federal Government’s disbandment of SARS was an indication of high level of frustration among Nigerians.

But in a contrary view, Chairman Kaduna State chapter of CAN, Reverend Joseph John Hayab appealed to protesters to stop and give government the benefit of doubt to take decisive steps on the issue.

He tasked all media organisations and other well meaning Nigerians and institutions to step out and appeal, if need be, to beg the protesters to leave the streets and allow peace to reign, saying, “this is our nation, we have no other one.”

Hayab pleaded with the protesters not to allow evil elements in the society hijack the good intention behind the call to end SARS, which the government has heeded.

IGP ADAMU, in response to the ongoing protests, convened a meeting with stakeholders yesterday. It was a move to meet sundry demands, including halting use of force against protesters and unconditional release of arrested citizens.

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This came following directives by President Muhammadu Buhari on dissolution of Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Police and immediate response by the authorities to the yearnings of citizens, according to a statement signed by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

The meeting, organised by the Office of the Inspector General of Police and National Human Rights Commission, was a multi-stakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organisations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry and the ENDSARS movement and development partners.

The Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting that affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement was genuine concerns and would be addressed by government.

A communiqué of stakeholders’ meeting on implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), said:

“Following the public protests regarding various forms of human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the consequent disbandment of the unit by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, there arose the need for stakeholder engagement to build trust and restore public confidence in law enforcement.

“The agitations also brought to the fore, the need to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).”

Lawyers join protests, warn against use of stray bullets
THE Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had, yesterday, warned security operatives against use of life bullets on #ENDSARS protesters across the country.

Noting that it has become imperative to openly wade into the matter, the association held that the use of life bullets on innocent protesters could only aggravate the already tensed atmosphere in the country.

National President of the Association, Olumide Akpata, who spoke in Abuja, also urged the Police Force to dismiss and prosecute officers already indicted of brutality against citizens.

On its part, Akpata announced that NBA would make its human and other resources available to the independent investigation panel to be established by the police and National Human Rights Commission to probe the violations of human rights by the disbanded SARS and other segments of the Nigerian Police.

The NBA also demanded an expeditious audit of the various SARS detention centres across the country, especially the notorious facility in Awkuzu, Anambra State, the infamous human abattoir in Abuja and others in Lagos, Port Harcourt and the rest part of the country.

The Association equally demanded an immediate audit of detainees in such detention camps to ensure that all Nigerians unjustly and unlawfully taken into detention are immediately released, while those who have case to answer are prosecuted in accordance with the law.

IN the same vein, a group of lawyers in Lagos joined the ongoing protest. The legal practitioners who marched out in their numbers with placards warned the police force against extra-judicial killings and attacks on unarmed protesters.

They vow to seek justice for SARS victims of brutality.

Also, the lawyers warned against harassment of legal practitioners by the force and urged government to provide better welfare and funding for the police to stop them from taking bribe from citizens and harassing them on roadsides.

Their placards read: “Nigerian lawyers demand police reform”, “end police brutality”, “prosecute corrupt officers” “stop extra-judicial killings”, “stop attacking protesters”, “stop malicious prosecution of citizens”, “Bail must be free, no more extortion” and “stop killing unarmed protesters.”

One of the leaders of the protesters, Inibehe Effiong told The Guardian that lawyers could not sit back and watch while Nigerians were protesting the brutality, corruption and impunity that has characterised the Nigeria Police Force.

“Legal practitioners are also victims. Our protest is meant to highlight how the decay in the police affects lawyers and citizens generally.

“Bail is supposed to be free, but as I told the Commissioner of Police, bail is not free. Lawyers have been subjected to all forms of harassment and extortion by police officers. To visit suspects or clients, many lawyers have been forced to part with money.

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