As the #EndSARS protest which began on October 8th, 2020 in some parts of the country continues, police in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja today, dropped teargas canisters to disperse pockets of protesters who had converged at the Unity Fountain location where protesters had converged.
It was a peaceful protest devoid of rancor. Protesters carried posters and banners asking for the disbanding of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) that is notorious for illegal use of force and unconventional way of dealing with the public it was supposed to protect. Many have accused the squad of extra judicial killings. Very much like the protests at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, it was peaceful.
There were however indications that government agents in an attempt to break the protests sent thugs to infiltrate the peaceful protests. Eventually in Abuja, no fewer than 50 protesters were reportedly taken away in police vehicles to an unknown destination.
The protest which was later hijacked by alleged government paid agents became violent yesterday in Lagos and has spread to Abuja. Law enforcement agents were out to prevent further protest. But the protesters were resolved to exercise their rights to freedom of speech, expression and movement.
Details of protesters that were picked up at Unity Fountain, Abuja could not immediately be ascertained but four of them who appeared to be coordinating the protests spoke to us earlier. One of them, a woman among them ,simply introduced herself to our correspondent as Ms Amina.
Information at our disposal revealed that many of the organizers used fake names to avoid being arrested by law enforcement officers. Another coordinator of the protesters identified as Jerry Musa, who handled food and refreshment ,claimed his brother was abducted by SARS operatives over a year ago and had never been seen. He said the protest was his only way to show that the family missed him. There was also Ado and another one who goes by the name Benbe. It is difficult to get the names of those arrested because journalists were not allowed to speak with them.
In fact, journalists are at great risk because we report to the public and the SARS operatives detest us for that. A journalist who was found filming SARS operatives was brutally and mercilessly beaten, his camera smashed and shot in the leg as a lesson to other reporters.
The EndSARS protest had begun on a peaceful note a fortnight ago by youths who wanted an end to police brutality across states of the Federation before it was hijacked by some unknown elements in other parts of Lagos. The protests at the Lekki Toll Gate were peaceful. However, it is widely known that hooligans believed to be working for security forces, to give pretense for security, were responsible for the resultant violence in some areas.