Nigeria: #EndSARS - Police Disperse Protesters At Former Anambra Office With Teargass, Gunshots

An #EndSARS protest in Lagos.
17 October 2020

The incident happened in the evening after notable celebrities who led the protests had left the venue.

Police on Friday teargassed #EndSARS protesters in front of the defunct SARS Anambra head office at Awkuzu.

The incident happened in the evening after notable celebrities who led the protests had left the venue.

According to videos obtained from sources at the time of the event, the protesters attempted to force themselves through to the office but police officers on duty fired teargas canisters at them while others shot into the air.

This forced the protesters, who were already gaining access into the facility from the gate, to scamper back out of the building, while those outside ran and left the venue.

Police spokesperson, Haruna Mohammed, said the police simply dispersed the crowd after they allegedly damaged properties and injured some police officers.

"Nobody was shot, the police applied professionalism and absolute discretion to disperse the protesters when they attempted to break into the CID Annex Awkuzu premises after destroying vehicles, signposts and injuring police men with stones and other offensive weapons," he said.

The protesters had marched from Awka, the state capital, for hours to the office, enduring difficult weather conditions including blazing sun and later torrential rainfalls, to get to the station.

There, they found the place occupied by police officers, most of whom were plainclothed.

The officers refused to allow the protesters access into the premises of the facility.

It was observed that the signpost of the office has changed to now read Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Some celebrities including musicians Phyno, Flavour, Zoro, KCee and top Nollywood star, Yul Edochie were part of the protesters.

Addressing the protesters in front of the facility, Phyno said the youths reject the new unit, Special Weapons and Tactics, formed by the police to replace the defunct SARS.

Some of the protesters on reaching the facility wept, probably remembering the past experiences they or their loved ones must have had at the place.

Mr Mohammed confirmed that the place has been converted to a CID annex.

Mr Mohammed said those in detention at the centre, prior to the scrapping of SARS, are undergoing profiling.

"They are being profiled, investigated to ascertain the allegations levelled against them. Those found wanting would be prosecuted, while those cleared would be released unconditionally," he said.

He did not however disclose whether such persons are being kept in the facility or moved to another facility in the state.

Meanwhile, Nollywood actor, Zubi Michael, has claimed that the office does not have any arrested protesters or illegal detainees being kept there.

Mr Michael posted a video on social media after he visited the facility.

In the video, he was seen moving into different offices and cells in the facility.

He later interviewed an officer who introduced himself as SP Obi, a legal officer attached to CID in the state.

Mr Obi, in the video, told Mr Michael that there are no protesters or illegal detainees at the facility anymore.

It was however not clear whether the visit was before or after the #EndSARS protesters arrived the facility.

The protesters will move to Onitsha on Saturday in continuation of the protests.

The state government has set up a panel of enquiry to probe the activities of SARS in the state.

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