…Policemen, soldiers storm Lekki toll plaza
…Protesters heed Police warning in Lagos, stay off protest venues
…Lagos Police debunk viral video
…Tension as #EndSARS protests hold in Abuja
…Protesters storm streets in Osogbo, demand disbandment of brutality panel
…Protesters’ll be dealt with decisively in C-River, CP warns, says memories of devastating destruction still fresh
…Protest failed to hold in Ogun
…You’re free to protest, but hooliganism won’t be tolerated, Buhari warns
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Bose Adelaja, Luminous Jannamike, Ike Uchechukwu, Shina Abubakar & James Ogunnaike
As the nation still rues the debilitating fallouts of the recent #EndSARS protests nationwide, attempts to stage another protest by promoters across the country were pre-empted by the Federal Government yesterday, deploying armed policemen and soldiers at the epicentre of the last exercise, the Lekki toll plaza, Lagos.
However, some members of the #EndSARS movement in Osun State stormed the streets of the state capital, Osogbo, demanding disbandment of the State Panel of Inquiry against police brutality.
In Ogun and Cross River states, the police warned that it would not hesitate to deal with any trouble maker, especially as the nation is yet to recover from the carnage that trailed the last protests.
Apparently referring to the planned new protests, President Muhammadu Buhari said citizens are at liberty to freely express themselves in a democracy but warned that he would not tolerate any act of hooliganism.
However, it was gathered that the armed policemen and soldiers were deployed to the Lekki toll gate around midnight.
Following warnings by the state police command, there appeared to be total compliance as #EndSARS protesters were conspicuously absent at the various proposed venues in the state, while the Police debunked a viral video about protest gatherings in the state.
Social media was busy yesterday with information that some youths had stormed the streets of Lagos to protest the immediate release of all detained protesters and de-freezing of their bank accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
To buttress this, series of photographs and video clips were posted to social media platforms.
This information further heightened tension and apprehension in some quarters as many stayed away from major roads to avoid anything untoward.
Security men on guard in Ikeja, Alimosho, Lekki, others
Checks by Vanguard also revealed the presence of security operatives at some protests venues such as Ikeja, Alimosho, Iyana-Ipaja, aside from Lekki tollgate, while protesters stayed off the venues.
Reacting to the development, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer SP Muyiwa Adejobi, said contrary to the speculations on the social media, the command did not give room for protest gatherings in the state.
The PPRO in a statement debunked the viral videos on the protests in social media, saying the command was out to forestall breakdown of law and order in the state.
“The attention of the Lagos State police command has been drawn to a viral video of a protest at Lekki Tollgate, Lagos State, purported to have been staged today (yesterday), December 7, 2020.”
Tension in Abuja as protesters gather
In Abuja, there was tension as some youths staged a second round of the #EndSARS protest in the nation’s capital.
According to the protesters, nothing will deter them from continuing with the street demonstration until the federal government addresses the nagging issue of police brutality.
One of the co-ordinators of the protest, who spoke to Vanguard on the condition of anonymity, said they had sufficient reasons to believe that the state judicial panels amounts to mere window-dressing of the sufferings by victims of police brutality
He said: “Protesters were out today. Gradually the streets will be filled again. The issues that brought the youth out in the first place have not been addressed.
“The police has shown Nigerians that the state judicial panels are merely window-dressing the sufferings of the victims of police brutality.
“The government should prepare for more protests because, as far as #EndSARS protesters are concerned, there is no alternative to justice.”
However, the renewed protests sparked tension as some parents hurriedly went to schools to bring their children back home, while shop owners shut down to prevent them from being looted.
But the FCT police command dismissed the claims of a renewed #EndSARS protest in the nation’s capital.
Spokesman of the command, Mariam Yusuf, told journalists: “There is nothing like #EndSARS protest going on in Abuja as it is being alleged.
“It’s all lies; the city is peaceful and the police are working in conjunction with all the security agencies to the ensure the safety and security of all.”
However, during a ride through the city centre, security agents were seen on high alert, going round the city in trucks to show their presence.
At the popular Berger junction in the FCT, about 10 trucks with a combined team of security personnel were sighted patrolling the streets.
Osun EndSARS protest
In Osogbo, some members of the #EndSARS movement in Osun State stormed the streets, demanding disbandment of the State Panel of Inquiry against police brutality.
The group, led by Emmanuel Adebisi, protested through Olaiya junction to Ogo-Oluwa area and terminated at the State House of Assembly around 9am.
The protesters were blocked at the entrance of the Assembly complex where they demanded to see the speaker of the House of Assembly, Timothy Owoeye.
They also insisted they won’t leave the Assembly complex unless the speaker addressed them. The speaker later addressed them.
Part of the reasons, the group sought the disbandment of the panel, included the non- inclusion of #EndSARS protesters in the panel.
Speaking with journalists at the House of Assembly, Adebisi said the state government did not fulfill its promise to organise an all-inclusive town hall meeting, saying genuine protesters are not allowed access into the venue.
While calling for the release of an #EndSARS protester, identified as Segun, who was remanded in prison, Adebisi also demanded that the Federal Government unfreeze the bank accounts of some protesters.
According to him, the panel lacks the will to ensure justice since during one of its sittings, the police officer in charge of legal matters, said before the panelists that the life of one Rasheed Ismaila, who was allegedly killed in a hotel at Iwo by an officer of the disbanded SARS was not worth more than N1.3million paid the family by the police.
“One of the promises they made to us that led to the suspension of the protest was to set up judicial panel of inquiry, but later they formed the panel which I regard as ‘Political Panel of Inquiry’.
“The panel of inquiry should be disbanded because non of our members was included. Another promise was to organize a town hall meeting but it was not done. They did not allow any of the #EndSARS movement to enter the venue of the panel.
“They should release Segun, one of us who was arrested and remanded in Ilesha prison after the #EndSARS protest. We want the FG to unfreeze the accounts of #EndSARS protesters. We are peaceful protesters and we know our rights and we won’t give in to any intimidation.
“We can not sit down in a country where a police officer will say a life is not worth more than N1.3million. He even said the lives of some were not worth N100,000. This was what the OC Legal, Osun State Police Command said during the sitting of the panel of inquiry and none of the members of the panel said anything about it.
“When I stood to object it, they said I had passed my boundary. We want government to call the OC Legal to explain what he meant in public,” he said.
Addressing the protesters, speaker of the state Assembly, Timothy Owoeye, said the four issues raised by the protesters would be sorted out
“They are talking about the composition of the panel of inquiry, the statement made by OC legal during the sitting of the panel, issues of youths empowerment and town hall meeting are the four demands by the protesters.
“As representatives of the people, we are going to engage those involved, that is the OC legal, the Commissioner for Youths and Sports.
“We will also look into the composition of the panel by the time we get to the office. I will communicate with my colleagues and I believe that by Monday, we will come up with a decision. We are into it together, we can not run away from them as a responsible government,” the speaker said.
Ogun police warns
In Ogun State, the police command warned any persons or group of persons planning to stage any form of protest in the state to desist from such action or face the full wrath of the law.
The command spokesperson, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, gave the warning in a statement he made available to newsmen in Abeokuta.
Oyeyemi said: “It has come to the knowledge of Ogun State police command that some misguided individuals are planning to stage a violent protest, tagged “#ENDSARS Phase II” today (yesterday), December 7, 2020, in Ogun State.
“While the command recognizes that it is the right of citizens to employ protest to express their grievances over issues of governance, there is, however, nothing at present that calls for such protest in the Gateway State, except for those who see trouble-making as a lucrative business.
“No reasonable person, after the massive destruction of properties and loss of lives occasioned by the recent #EndSARS protest, would again be contemplating another violent protest so soon. It is the most callous thing to conceive and do.
“In Ogun State, we have since the end of #EndSARS protest been enjoying well-deserved peace. Socio-economic activities have resumed fully.
“Schools have also resumed, and the children in particular can be seen happily resuming and closing from schools. Only an enemy of the people, therefore, would wish to re-enact the #EndSARS mayhem.”
He noted that “contemplating the second #EndSARS stands logic on its head as the SARS for which reason the unprecedented violence was perpetrated in the country has since been banned.
“SARS is now history. It is mischievous, therefore, for anybody to protest against a non-existent outfit or any issue.
“In view of this, the command wishes to appeal to members of public, especially our adorable youths, not to allow themselves to be used for any act capable of undermining the peace of the state, as such will be viewed with all seriousness.’’
Police warn against gatherings in C-River
A similar warning by the police in Cross River State stopped the protest from taking place, as the command vowed to deal decisively with any person or group of persons who gathered with the intent to protest or carry out any procession in the state.
The Commissioner of Police, Abdulkadir Jimoh, in a statement issued by the Police Public Relations Officer ,DSP Irene Ugbo, yesterday warned that no form of gathering, protest or procession would be allowed.
He said: “The Cross River State police command wishes to draw the attention of the general public against any gathering, procession or protest in Cross River as some unscrupulous individuals or group of persons are planning to embark on another similar destructive and fierce #ENDSARS protest that left unsuspecting and law abiding citizens into a repeated wanton destruction in the state.
“The command has actionable intelligence that certain individuals or groups have concluded plans to entice innocent citizens, especially youths, into their planned protest which is proposed to commence today (yesterday), December 7, 2020, at strategic locations in the state.
“Consequently, the command wishes to reiterate that the government of Cross River State, private entrepreneurs and security families still lament losses recorded on the occasion of the recent #ENDSARS protesters which was highly condemned.
“It’s on the above, the Cross River State police command, therefore, cautions those who might want to hide under #ENDSARS protest to spark another catastrophic impact with intent to cause chaos in the state.
“They must refrain from such unprofitable evil venture as the Police and other security agencies will not fold their arms, while individuals or groups mastermind another violence and absolute freedom of individuals in the state.
“In the same vein, the command warns parents and guardians to caution and discourage their children/wards from being used for any act, gathering or protest capable of causing mayhem in the state.
“At this juncture, the command wishes to state crystal clear that any unlawful assembly, procession or protest will be ethically subdued in line with the provisions of the extant laws.’’
It will be recalled that three senators lost their houses to fire set by the hoodlums who hijacked the protest in Calabar, while several public buildings were also torched.
Protests, yes, hooliganism, no — Buhari
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that citizens are at liberty to freely express themselves in a democracy, but warned that such latitude does not include any acts of hooliganism.
He said those hiding behind lawful and peaceful protests to cause mayhem would be dealt with decisively to ensure peace and stability in the country.
The President’s warning came on the heels of the second wave of #EndSARS protest allegedly planned by youths in the country.
Declaring open the Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2020, President Buhari, who spoke virtually, commended the Nigerian Armed Forces for their efforts at swiftly restoring law and order in various states during what he described as “the large-scale criminality” that ensued in the wake of the #EndSARS protests.
The President, who reiterated government’s commitment to the rights of citizens to embark on peaceful protests responsibly and in accordance with the laws of the land, recounted that the #EndSARS protests were sadly hijacked by hooligans to cause wanton damage to lives and property in many cities across the country.
He described 2020 as a very challenging year, citing the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on almost every aspect of national life.
“Despite this, I am pleased to note that the Army remained resolute in the discharge of its Constitutional roles and in keeping the wealth and welfare of our soldiers a priority.
“The Army’s support of civil authorities in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point.
“Also, the peaceful elections conducted in Edo and Ondo states would not have been achieved without the high level of professionalism displayed by all security agencies, including the Army,” he said at the conference, with the theme “Human Capacity Development in Sustaining Professionalism and Responsiveness of the Nigerian Army in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles.”
Buhari commended the Army for its unwavering commitment towards curtailing the activities of insurgents, armed bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and other violent criminals through ongoing exercises and operations in different parts of the country.
Notably, he said Exercise SAHEL SANITY launched a few months ago in the North-West states to rid the Katsina-Zamfara corridor of marauding bandits, had recorded commendable progress.
“I have also been briefed about the tremendous successes achieved by troops during the ongoing Operation FIRE BALL in the North East.
“I charge you all to sustain these efforts until the full restoration of peace and security in the nation is achieved,’’ the President said.
The President paid tribute to men and women in uniform who have paid the supreme sacrifice in the defence and security of the nation, commiserating with their families, comrades and friends.
He said: “As we pray for the repose of their souls, we must strengthen our collective resolve to address those issues that will make every part of our country a safe and secure place to live and carry out our normal business.”
He pledged that his administration will not relent in its efforts to take adequate care of families of fallen heroes who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the fight against insurgency and other forms of crimes across the country.
President Buhari at the conference, launched the Housing scheme for Next of Kin of personnel of the Nigerian Army killed in action.