Fear of another #EndSARS protests grips Abuja, Lagos

Police are set for a showdown with youths over the second phase of the #EndSARS protests.

The protests are billed to begin on Monday in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other cities.

There was anxiety as various police commands yesterday warned against such gatherings.

The organisers, who raised awareness on the social media, said the second phase was to demand the release of all protesters detained following the first phase.

They also want restrictions on all accounts of #EndSARS leaders at the instance of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) lifted.

Destroyed, vandalised or looted were 269 private and companies’ assets during the #EndSARS protests.

No less than 243 government facilities were burnt or vandalised and 81 warehouses looted.

In Edo, Lagos, Abia, Delta, Ondo and Ebonyi states, 1,957 inmates were set free from eight Medium Security Custodial Centres and 31 employees of the Prisons Service injured.

There were about 196 injured policemen, 164 destroyed police vehicles and 134 burnt police stations.

Supporters of the planned protests, which have remained a trending topic across social media platforms since last week, said they were undeterred by the threats by security operatives.

Some asked the police and government to go after those who wreaked havoc, during the first phase of the #EndSARS protests and bring them to justice.

They said labelling #ENDSARS protesters as criminals will not demoralise them.

THE FRESH DEMANDS

  • Release of all detained protesters

  • Defreezing of accounts by CBN

Bisi Oluwagbemileke wrote: “#EndSARS, where are we meeting tomorrow (today)? I just want us to keep applying pressure and retweeting aggressively. I am ready with my joggers and canvas. Let’s hit the road.”

Ayobami Olunloyo said: “To label #EndSARS as simply being about police reform, is a grave error. It (was) is about societal reform. Police brutality was merely a trigger and the final straw for too many citizens who do not deserve to be brutalised randomly or to live in fear and terror.”

Wondering why the police banned protests, Abayomi Agbomire asked why the service was not going after its operatives that protested in Katsina over alleged unpaid salaries.

“When will @PoliceNG understand that #EndSARS is a positive thing for them as well?” he queried.

Dave said: “Expect the worse from soro soke generation. Enough is enough. Our movement is solid and our energy is unmatched.”

Police issue warnings

Spokesman for the police in Lagos, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said no such gathering would be permitted.

He said in a statement that some unpatriotic individuals and groups were planning to embark on the replica of the recent destructive and violent protests that unleashed pains and agony on Lagos.

The statement reads: “The command has reliably gathered intelligence that certain individuals/groups have concluded plans to lure unsuspecting Lagosians, especially youths, into their planned protest which is proposed to commence December 7 (today) at designated locations in the state.

“The Lagos State Police Command wishes to re-echo and remind the public that the Government of Lagos State, businesses, individuals and security families still groan in losses and pains that the last violent #EndSARS protest occasioned.

“Lagos State is still nursing the wounds orchestrated by some violent #EndSARS protesters and not fit to accommodate such protest for now.

“In the light of the above, the Lagos State Police Command, therefore, warns those who might want to disguise under #EndSARS protest to cause another set of mayhem, brouhaha and violence in the state, to desist from such plans as the police and other security agencies will not fold their arms seeing individuals or groups orchestrating another violence and anarchy in the state.

“The command also warns parents and guardians to warn and discourage their children and wards from being lured into any act, gathering or protest capable of causing violence in the state.

“The command wishes to reiterate that any unlawful gathering, procession or protest will be suppressed professionally in accordance with the provisions of the law.

“The police command encourages Lagosians and those who are in Lagos for their genuine engagements to go about their lawful businesses as all hands are on the deck to maintain law and order within the length and breadth of Lagos State.”

In Abuja, the police said arrangements had been concluded to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order.

The Command’s spokesman, Yusuf Mariam, could not be reached, but a senior officer, who preferred not to be named, said policemen  have been mobilised.

He said: “Adequate men have been deployed. We will perform our constitutional responsibility as expected of us and ensure there is no breakdown of law and order.”

At a meeting with Commissioners of Police across the country in Abuja a couple of weeks ago, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said the force would not allow another #EndSARS protests.

The Abia State Police Command, however,  said any protest must be with the approval of the Commissioner of Police, Janet Agbede.

The spokesman, Geoffrey Ogbonna, told our correspondent that anyone who plans to stage a protest must notify the police, stating time, place of convergence, routes and duration of the protests.

The letter should get to the command at least 48 hours before the exercise.

Ogbonna said the essence of the notification was to provide security for the protesters to avoid its hijack by hoodlums.

The Anambra State Police command said there was no cause for alarm.

The command’s spokesman, Mohammed Haruna, said: “We are fully on the ground. There is no cause for alarm. The Police command with its sister agencies is not going to sleep on duty. We are ready.”

The Police in Rivers State said its officers and men were ready to curtail any second wave of the #EndSARS protest in the state.

The spokesman, Nnamdi Omoni, said though there was no sign of an imminent protest, the command intercepted some intelligence about its possibility and was ready to curtail it.

He said: “We uncovered intelligence of the likelihood of the protest and we have put measures in place to curtail it”.

Bello: Nigeria yet to recover from protest

Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello urged youths to shelve any plan for another round of #EndSARS protests.

He said such a move would do further harm to the economy and stretch the already overwhelmed security architecture.

The governor, in a special broadcast yesterday, said: “I deem another round of #EndSARS protests to be premature and counter-productive at this time.

“Apart from the higher likelihood of conflict with the police earlier canvassed, we must also admit that the security situation in the country is very precarious at the moment.

“All patriots must therefore make a conscious effort not to degrade a parlous security situation further.

“Nationwide protests at this time will only overburden the load-bearing capabilities of our security architecture increasing the likelihood of total collapse.

“No matter the narrative, I doubt that out-of-control anarchy is an objective of the #EndSARS protests.

“It is also true that we live in an economy that is bleeding badly right now. Traditional responses to Covid-19 have hurt, not just Nigeria, but all other countries of the world. Many have fallen into recession.

“To worsen matters, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) predicted three days ago that the pandemic could push the number of people living in extreme poverty to over one billion by 2030. Thank God they are owning up to my earlier prediction, warning and caution.

“Nigeria’s earning and foreign exchange situation is too fragile as we speak, to resist sustained shocks.

“Another nationwide protest will worsen the multidimensional poverty indices all over our country and work greater hardship on the ordinary Nigerians we claim to be advocating for.”

He warned that the protests might also disrupt many planned social events this yuletide.

Minister: protests must be well-thought-out

Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola attributed parental neglect as a cause of the violence that trailed the #EndSARS protests.

According to him, the protests were justified until they were hijacked, with “shameful” consequences.

He spoke at the St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, where he was honoured with the Episcopal Ecumenical Award.

Aregbesola said: “The youth must be commended for organising a protest that awakes the nation from its lethargy and arouse our consciousness to the state where we find ourselves.

“We must also commend the governors for prompt action to yield to the demands of the youths.”

He noted that youths are a blessing to any society as they can also be a purveyor of evil if their energy is not properly channelled.

Aregbesola added: “Youths are very intelligent which we must all seek to re-channel for positive modelling, mentoring retraining and ultimately gainful employment.

“The report and pictures of assault, killings, looting, arson and bare face robbery and even cannibalism should fill us with shame and very embarrassing.

“It seems as parents we have neglected our responsibilities to our children. We must train our youths to be God-fearing and capable of loving one another.

“We have regrettably seen that the effort of a century can be wiped in a day and it would take time to rebuild, that’s why security, coordination and management of protest should be well-thought-out and moderated.”

Group seeks justice for slain officers

A non-governmental organisation, Foundation for Peace Professionals, called for justice for officers of the Police who were killed during the hijacked #EndSARS protests in October.

It noted that justice and peace-building cannot be done without giving the slain officers and their families justice.

Rivers and Lagos are among states that have compensated families of such officers to the tune of N10milion each.

In a statement by its Executive Director, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, the group said: “We must not shut our eyes to the violence suffered by police during the protest.

“Perpetrators of the violence must not be left to go unpunished and the family of victims must be supported to get justice.

“Police cannot be made to feel unwanted in our society, their lives cannot be made to seem unimportant and perpetrators of violence cannot be made to feel that they can get away with the cruellest human rights violation against police officers.”

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