Nigeria: #EndSARS - Chaos in Abuja, States

20 October 2020

Protests by #EndSARS advocates turned violent on Monday in many parts of the country despite repeated calls for calm by relevant authorities.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of major cities in Nigeria chanting #EndSARS slogans.

They barricaded major highways with the procession turning violent in places like Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Edo, Lagos, Ekiti, Kano and other states.

Some people were reportedly killed in Abuja, a jailbreak recorded in Benin and thugs invaded the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

Buhari Cautions

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday cautioned the protesters not to allow thugs to hijack the process.

The 36 state governors also called for caution, saying there was the need to end the protest.

The Northern Elders Forum also released a statement saying the protest has been taken over by those who do not mean well for Nigeria.

Police open fire on protesters in Abuja

Daily Trust reports that policemen deployed to maintain law and order as the #EndSARS protests continued in all areas in Abuja, allegedly opened fire on the protesters who led a procession to AYA.

Sources said at least five people have been killed and several others injured as riot police fired bullets and threw teargas at the protesters.

Our correspondents gathered that one of the female protesters carrying the Nigerian flag was particularly assaulted by at least three armed policemen.

Cars Set Ablaze in Apo

Also, there was chaos in Apo Mechanic Village, Gudu District, as thugs clashed with traders, burning at least 13 vehicles.

Some thugs reportedly took advantage of the protests and set ablaze over 50 cars at car sales stand around the mechanic village.

Dozens of vehicles belonging to the #EndSARS supporters were reportedly set ablaze by thugs allegedly hired to attack protesters around Apo.

Daily Trust gathered that the thugs first set fire on the truck conveying the Disco Jokey (DJ) who was playing music for the protesters.

A video of the attack which went viral on social media showed numerous car burning.

When contacted, the FCT Police Command's Spokesperson, ASP Mariam Yusuf said she could not confirm the story, saying, however, that she doubts if officers of the command would go against the order by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the Commissioner of Police for FCT, Bala Ciroma, who directed them not to use force on the protesters.

Soldiers Deployed

A heavy deployment of soldiers and police was also witnessed across the FCT and environs.

Soldiers reportedly from the Abacha Barracks at Asokoro were seen barricading the service lanes of the Abuja-Keffi highway around the barracks axis.

At the popular AYA section of Asokoro, the soldiers and policemen were seen preventing the protesters from blocking the highway, using whips.

Some of the protesters that "proved stubborn" sustained injuries during a pandemonium after security operatives fired teargas to disperse them.

Also, troops were stationed under the bridge from AYA-Kubwa Expressway to forestall security breach.

Some of the protesters and suspected thugs ran for cover under tree shields by the service lanes to avoid lashes from the riot-ready soldiers.

On Airport Road, troops were seen in trucks driving against traffic, patrolling the full stretch of the road.

Our correspondents report that while the Federal Secretariat axis was free, the protesters carrying placards with signage of #EndSARS, #ENDBadGovernance, holding the Nigerian flag moved freely on the Ibrahim Babangida Way, moving from Zone 4 in Wuse towards Wuse 2.

They also blocked the Kuje-Airport Road for hours impeding movement and stopping many workers from coming to the city.

Commuters experience a similar thing along the Dutsen-Alhaji-Bwari Road.

Also, soldiers were deployed to some strategic locations across the city including the Presidential Villa gate.

Police operatives equally took positions in front of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) headquarters with Armoured Personnel Carrier and water cannons.

They also blocked the #EndSARS protesters in Karu, a border town between Abuja and Nasarawa State.

CSOs Speak

Over 30 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Sunday asked the Nigerian Army not to go ahead with its Exercise Crocodile Smile, alleging it was meant to clampdown on EndSARS protesters.

While countering the claim, the Acting Director Army Public Relations of the Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa said the exercise, which commenced on Sunday was a yearly activity.

Protesters should give Buhari time to address their grievances - Dare

President Muhammadu Buhari is worried by the turn of events in respect to the ongoing #EndSARS protests in different parts of the country, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, disclosed this to State House reporters at the end of a meeting with the president at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Dare, who said the team constituted by the federal government had already gone to work, added that the president recognised that Nigerians had the right to protest.

He said the president assured that the demands of the protesters were being met in a timely fashion, while some had already been met.

Dare, while speaking on his engagement with President Buhari, said: "First, Mr President said that as far as he is concerned, it is important to allow the younger generation to exercise the freedom to protest but he did say that such protests must be in a peaceful manner.

"Of course, he is worried about some of the exceptions to the peaceful nature of the protest. And for him, it is important that these protests are properly guided; he said part of the demands that were made was to ensure those protesting are protected and any police officer that has in one way or the other attacked any protester be brought to book."

Dare, while speaking as the minister of youth, urged the youth to be security conscious in view of the infiltration of the protests by miscreants.

He said: "In the face of infiltration by miscreants trying to hijack these protests and give the entire protest a bad image, it is important that I make this appeal that consideration is given by moving this protest from protest to action."

Northern elders want end to protest

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Monday said there is the need for the ongoing protest across the country to stop.

In a statement signed by the Director, Publicity and Advocacy of the group, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the elders said it appeared the protest had been hijacked by some people for selfish reasons.

According to Baba-Ahmed, "The Forum had released a statement a week ago in which it drew attention to the fact that there were genuine grounds for anger at accumulated grievances around the security and welfare of Nigerians, especially in the North.

"We had advised that governments must embark on far-reaching changes and reforms, and introduce policies that should improve security and the economic well-being of Nigerians.

"These protests have registered tremendous success, including acceptance of responsibility for the federal government to abolish SARS and undertake further action towards improving accountability of operatives and institutions.

"Unfortunately it now appears that other interests have taken over these protests and are compounding our collective security. Like most Nigerians, the Forum is alarmed at criminal acts such as attacks on specific persons, emptying prisons, molesting innocent citizens and attacking policemen.

"We are very concerned that these acts of criminality suggest that other interests with criminal intent or subversive goals have taken over these protests.

"If these acts continue, as they will unless we bring these protests to an immediate end, every law-abiding citizen, including protesters who are pursuing legitimate goals, are in danger. The Forum does not believe that this is part of the agenda of the overwhelming majority of protesters," he said.

The northern elders also called on all leaders to take steps to lower tensions, engage young people to give them assurances that their cause was not lost, and close ranks to stop subversives from plunging the nation into deeper crises.

Northerners in Canada condemn growing violence

Indigenes of Northern Nigeria based in Canada on Monday frowned at the growing violence across the country, saying life is fast becoming cheap and worthless.

The Canada-based persons under the aegis of the Association of Northern Nigerians in Canada (ANNIC), called on President Buhari and Nigerians to embrace dialogue in solving police brutality and series of carnage in some Northern states.

Samira Golo, who is the president of the association also urged federal and state governments to intensify their efforts in addressing the security challenges.

"These various forms of violence characterised as communal, religious, ethnic, said to be perpetrated through farmers/herders clashes or banditry, seem to be engendering the eye-for-an-eye syndrome, which will surely leave everyone blind.

"ANNIC deplores the current situation in which life is fast becoming cheap and worthless, to be wasted at will by obviously sponsored criminals, and where communities that have existed for hundreds of years are dislodged and decapitated with abandon.

"We deplore especially the carnage that has either occurred or is currently occurring in places like Kaduna, Taraba, Borno, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara states. These wanton killings are generating serious humanitarian crises in the region," Golo said.

Governors want #EndSARS protests stopped

Governors of the 36 states under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have appealed for the call-off of protests, saying a continuation grossly exposes the fragile economic fundamentals of the country.

A communiqué issued on Monday by NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, at the end of the 20th emergency Teleconference Meeting held on Sunday said criminal elements and hoodlums had hijacked the protests by maiming innocent citizens, looting and destroying properties.

The governors encouraged the protesters to engage with the government appropriately at both the national and state level to ensure that the protests were not taken over by hoodlums who were instigating a breakdown of law and order in many parts of the country.

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