By Shina Abubakar
Mobile policemen at Olaiya junction, Osogbo on Friday shot sporadically into the air to disperse daring youth protesters who stormed major streets of the state capital calling for an end to the brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protesters thronged the roads as early as 10am singing solidarity songs against the illegal activities of the squad.
To further display their displeasure with the activities of SARS operatives, the protesters headed to the State Police Command Headquarters to register their grievances to the Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr Undie Adie and inscribed #ENDSARS on the Command’s perimeter wall.
However, while they were returning, the protesters clashed with the mobile policemen stationed at the Olaiya junction while the security personnel attempted to forcefully disperse them.
The youths in an attempt to resist the gun-wielding policemen pelted sachet water at the security personnel and began to mobilise more members to the scene.
The security operatives then began to shoot sporadically into the air to disperse the protesters and in the process created panic among traders at the area, forcing many shop owners to run for safety.
Meanwhile, the protesters, who had earlier scampered for safety regrouped to secure the release of some of their colleagues arrested by the mobile policemen, who were attached to the Armoured Personnel Carriers at the area.
The protesters who commenced their procession at Shasha area of Oke-Baale to Ayetoro through Old-Garage, Olaiya to the State Secretariat at Abere had been to the State House of Assembly, where they were addressed by the Chief Whip, Babatunde Olatunji.
Many of them were on commercial motorcycles while others were in vehicles throughout the protest, which resulted into a gridlock along Ogo-Ogoluwa area of the state, as some of them blocked the road with their motorcycles and vehicles.
Some members of the Revolution Now movement were also sighted among the protesters, especially at the House of Assembly.
Addressing journalists at Ogo-Ogoluwa, one of the conveners of the protest, Ayedokun Abolore, a student of Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, condemned the brutal acts of the SARS operatives against the people, whose tax is used to provide the operatives ammunition, as well as for paying their salaries.
“We are here on the street to register our grievances to the government. There must be an end to the brutality of SARS in the country, many youths have been killed by these officers with the gun that was bought by taxpayer’s money. It is unreasonable for those officers to kill Nigerians and at the end, nothing will happen.
“Some of my colleagues were killed last year and till today, nobody was prosecuted. No justice in this country.
“Our own voice is our weapon. We can’t carry arms against the government we are only pleading for them to end brutality and extortion by officials of SARS as soon as possible”, he said.
While calming the protesters, the Assembly’s Chief Whip said since SARS is a creation of the Nigeria Police, the team can better be engaged by the institution rather than allowing its operatives to engage in extrajudicial killings.
“Just some weeks ago we lost youth in this state as a result of the action of some security operatives. It could be anybody. Several lives have also been lost in this regard. We owe Nigerians duty to protect lives and property. SARS is a creation of the police and we also believe that they can be engaged else they will continue to sniff lives out of innocent Nigerians”.
Speaking with Newsmen, the Police Public Relations Officer, Yemisi Opalola appealed to the protesters to be peaceful, saying the Commissioner of police had complied with the Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Adamu’s directives to stop SARS operatives from the streets.