Protests in Lagos, FCT, Ibadan, Osogbo, Benin, Jos, Akure, Enugu, Ilorin

THE NATION newspaper

Youths and activists on Wednesday defied the presence of security operatives to mark the one-year anniversary #ENDSARS protests in Abuja, Lagos, Oyo, and seven other states.
Unlike last year’s demonstrations that were marred by killings and destruction of public properties, yesterday’s recorded no known casualties.

But protesters and passersby were arrested by the security agents.

A journalist and an Uber driver were brutalised. As of 7.35 pm, The Nation gathered that nearly all the arrested persons had been freed except for 10 others described by the Police as “miscreants”.
Activists also marched on Osun, Ondo, Kwara, Rivers, Edo, Abia, and Plateau states.

Among the prominent persons at the Lagos and Abuja protests were musicians like Charles Oputa (aka Charlie Boy), Folarin Falana (aka Falz); comedian Adebowale Adedayo(aka Mr. Macoroni; the 2019 Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore and an activist, Deji Adeyanju.

The youths and activists on October 20, last year took to the streets of most state capitals across the country demanding the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force for abuse of human rights. Many people died scores injured and public, as well as private properties, destroyed.

Lekki Toll Gate in Lekki, Lagos which was the centre of the demonstrations remains shut till today after soldiers reportedly dispersed the protesters with live bullets.

Yesterday, flag-waving protesters and activists returned to the toll gate but were confronted by security operatives comprising men of the police’ Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Taskforce, and Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC).

The car procession had barely gathered full steam around 8 am when it turned rowdy following indiscriminate arrests of some of the protesters and assault on journalists.

The arrested Uber driver, Clement Adedotun, one of the journalists, Bisola Alawode, a young woman, Blessing, and several others were forced into a waiting Black Maria by the operatives.

Adedotun was manhandled, pepper-sprayed, and tear-gassed directly on his face for resisting attempts to force him into the Black Maria.

Commissioner of Police, Lagos Police Command, Hakeem Odumosu, however, said 10 people he described as “miscreants’ are still being quizzed.

Before the clampdown by the security operatives who claimed that hoodlums infiltrated the protests, the procession was largely peaceful.

The Nation reports that the youth-led by Falz, Macoroni, Charlie Boy, among others moved in scores of vehicles waving the Nigerian flag and chanting #EndSARS through the tollgate several times.

The organisers intermittently urged the participants to stay in their vehicles to prevent harassment by the operatives.

But as the protesters were wrapping up their procession by dropping their flags as they drove past the tollgate for the last time, more youths, who joined refused to vacate the scene.

It was observed that this group of protesters did not adhere to the agreed guideline of staying in their vehicles and no obstruction of traffic.

They were said to have parked their vehicles on the road, causing massive congestion while also converging physically at the Tollgate.

To ensure flow of traffic, the police blocked the tollgate and diverted motorists going into Lekki through Oba Oniru Road.

It was at this point that the security operatives used teargas to disperse the crowd and towed away vehicles parked on the road before reopening the tollgate.

In the ensuing melee, it was alleged that a thug stabbed an LNSC official and fled, a development that led to the arrest of some persons with cutlasses, hammers and charms.

Commissioner of Police Odumosu, later explained that he ordered the release of those that had earlier been wrongfully arrested. He also apologized to those brutalised.

Odumosu insisted that the ban on street protest was to prevent the destruction of lives and properties as witnessed in 2020 across the state.

He added that the operatives had to use minimal force when they discovered that miscreants had infiltrated the crowd.

He said: “It was agreed they will do a car procession between 8 am and 10 am and I provided adequate security for them.

“No one stopped the car procession. I told them that no one will harass them as long as they do not obstruct traffic

“I put a call across to one of the organisers to know if they were done and he said yes… and that they had dispersed.

“So, those ones who came to block the road are not known. We arrested 10 persons with machetes, are the protesters? Those are miscreants.

“Two journalists were arrested because they could not identify themselves but when I was called, I ordered their release. All those who were wrongfully arrested have been released. Those we are keeping are those we found with weapons or have reasons to keep them. We will conduct further investigation on them.”

There was however fisticuff by urchins over sharing of money given to them by an unnamed celebrity.

As soon as the celebrity handed the money to two men, the rest of the urchins surged towards them, causing an upheaval. .

In no time, charms and cutlasses were brought out by the hoodlums who engaged themselves in free for all before security operatives raced to the spot to restore peace.

*Abuja: There were however two separate protests in the Federal Capital Territory to mark the anniversary.

One was led by Sowore and Adeyanju while the second tagged Pro-Buhari was coordinated by Okpokwu Ogenyi.

The Sowore and Adeyanju group had barely left the Unity Fountain in Abuja when the pro-Buhari group arrived.

As members of the Sowore-Adeyanju group headed towards the National Assembly Complex, they were pushed back by security operatives.

Sowore claimed that the security operatives acted on the orders of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The protesters had caused mild traffic gridlock along Shehu Shagari Way, Central Business before they were forced to retreat to Unity Fountain, along Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama, where they continued the protest that was largely peaceful.

Most of the protesters were clad in black outfits that reflected the mood of the occasion.

The slogan: “We will Not Forget 2010 20 Lekki Massacre” was boldly inscribed on their outfits.

They also carried placards with inscriptions like: “The Liberator Generation is Here”, “Young Not Criminal”, “Why Does It Look Like it is a Crime to be a Nigerian”, “You Can’t Kill Nobody”, “We Can’t Be the Future of the Nation if We Are Dead.”.

Sowore told reporters that Nigerians were sick and tired of the fake type of democracy in the country which he likened to ‘morontocracy’.

“We are here to remind the Nigerian people that the biggest rebellion is yet to come but this day must be commemorated because it was the day the worst atrocity was committed against Nigerian youth who fought against police brutality,” he said.

A few metres from the EndSARS protesters, the pro-Buhari group also unfurled a banner, describing the shooting of protesters at Lekki as a hoax.

They carried banners with inscriptions like: “EndSARS was an insurrection against the state”.

The Pro-Buhari protesters berated the #EndSARS anniversary protesters for being too critical of the Buhari government..

They also accused the #EndSARS protesters of projecting Nigeria in a bad light before the world through their mass action in Lagos, Abuja, and other major cities in the country.

Ogenyi, leader of the pro-government protesters, said the #EndSARS protesters were mobilised to blackmail the Buhari administration.

“We shall no longer keep quiet while unscrupulous elements are trying to blackmail the Buhari government,” he said.


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