By Nicholas Kalu, Abuja/ Toba Adedeji,Osogbo/Elo Edremoda,Warri/Okungbowa Aiwerie,Asaba/Polycarp Orosevwotu,Ughelli/Oziegbe Okoeki/Kolade Adeyemi, Jos/Yinka Adeniran, Ibadan/Sanni Onogu, Abuja/Alao Abiodun
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday night sent a directive to the police authorities to sanction officers found stepping out of bounds. Buhari spoke as violence erupted in Abuja and Osogbo on the second day of the #EndSARS protests after armed policemen teargased protesters. The protests spread to more parts of the country and with more intensity especially on the social media.
Apart from #EndSARS there were also “#EndSarsNow #EndSarsProtests #EndSARSProtest #EndSARSImmediately” attracting over ten million tweets.
Meanwhile, Nigerians in diaspora especially in US, United Kingdom, Canada, UAE have also showed solidarity to join the campaign against police brutality by protesting at various embassies. The protesters insisted that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad must be “completely disbanded”.
No fewer than 14 men were arrested in Ughelli, Delta State over Thursday’s bloody protest in the city.
The police described the arrested persons as hoodlums who masterminded the Thursday attack on security men during which a policeman was killed.
Police Inspector General Mohammed Adamu and Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege yesterday condemned the attack on the police in Delta State.
But the police ruled out scrapping SARS.
President Buhari received briefing from Police Inspector General Mohammed Adamu for the second time in as many days on the #ENDSARS protests.
The president with whom was Vice President Yemi Osinbajo directed the IG to “conclusively address the concerns of Nigerians regarding these excesses, and ensure erring personnel are brought to justice.”
He appealed for “patience and calm, even as Nigerians freely exercise their right to peacefully make their views known.
Buhari who wrote on Twitter said: ”The vast majority of men and women of the Nigeria Police Force are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, and we will continue to support them to do their job.
“I met again with the IGP tonight. Our determination to reform the police should never be in doubt.
“I am being briefed regularly on the reform efforts ongoing to end police brutality and unethical conduct, and ensure that the Police are fully accountable to the people.”
Presidential aide Bashar Ahmed first dropped hint of the briefing when he said on Twitter earlier in the day that the IG brief Buhari on Thursday.
He said: “Good people of Nigeria have every right to protest the #PoliceBrutality or anything they see is not going on well.The President was briefed yesterday (Thursday) by the IG of Police. I am very sure action will be taken and in the best interest of Nigeria.”
Police, protesters clash in Abuja
Policemen in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) fired shots in the air and canisters of teargas at protesters of the #ENDSARS campaign.
The ensuing pandemonium sparked a massive traffic jam in several parts of the city.
A similar confrontation between the police and protesters played out in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
The protesters who had converged on Shasha market, Oke-Baale around 9 am marched through Testing ground to Stadium, Ayetoro, Old-Garage, Ola-Iya, Africa and ended up at the Osun State House of Assembly where they were addressed by the Chief Whip, Hon. Babatunde Olatunji who called for calm.
He promised that government was looking into their grievances.
From there, they moved to the headquarters of the State Police Command.
Some of them inscribed “#EndSARS” on the perimeter fence of the complex.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Yemisi Opalola appealed to them to be peaceful, saying the Commissioner of police had complied with the Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Adamu’s directives to suspend SARS operations on the streets.
The protesters returned to the Ola-Iya, junction only to start pelting policemen at the scene with stones and sticks.
The policemen took cover beside their Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) parked at the junction.
When it appeared that the protesters would not relent in attacking them, the policemen fired into the air to disperse the youths.
#EndSARS protests hit Warri, Effurun
The EndSARS protests yesterday spread to Warri and Effurun, Delta state.
The protesters in their hundreds took off from the Effurun Roundabout, moving to PTI Junction and Enerhen Junction and Warri metropolis. They carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘End Police Brutality’, ‘iPhone, laptop, hair styles and living fresh isn’t a crime’, iPhone no be gun’, ‘Police station no be bank’. The protest has caused heavy traffic across major routes in the town but here was no violence.
Police arrest 14 over violent protest
The Delta State Police Command said yesterday it had arrested 14 suspects following Thursday’s violent protest in Ughelli, Ughelli North LGA that claimed the life of police corporal Stanley Etaga.
Another sergeant Patrick Okuone was severely injured.
Police spokesman DSP Onome Onowakpoyeya in a statement, yesterday, accused internet fraudsters of being behind the #ENDSARS protesters, said that seven vehicles and six mobile phones belonging to the hoodlums were recovered.
He said hoodlums stole the rifle belonging to the slain policeman including 25 rounds of ammunition.
He said: “On the 8th of October 2020 in anticipation of violent protest by hoodlums sponsored by internet fraudsters ‘Yahoo boys’ masquerading with #ENDSARS PROTESTERS, several patrol teams were deployed to Otovwodo junction in Ughelli to prevent breakdown of Law and Order and allow free movement of Law abiding Citizens/ traffic.
“At about 1530hrs, Police Patrol team came under attack by these hoodlums. Consequently, one Corporal Etaga Stanley attached to ‘A’ division Ughelli was attacked and killed and his service Rifle AK 47 with 25 rounds of ammunition stolen.
“In a similar circumstance, Police Sergeant Patrick Okuone attached to Eagle-net squad was shot and injured and Police Patrol vehicles equally damaged as a result of gunshot targeted at the police men by the protesters.”
“The Police team responded and arrested nine (9) suspects, impounded seven (7) vehicles and six (6) mobile Phones belonging to the Criminal elements were recovered from the scene. The injured officer is now on admission in hospital, while reinforcements sent to deal with the situation.”
Delta police boss, Hafiz Mohammed Inuwa described the attack on security agents “as provocative, cruel and unwarranted,” warning that the police will not tolerate any further attack on its personnel by any individual or group protesting under any guise.
Inuwa noted that while protest by citizens remains a legitimate means for airing their concerns and views, protests must be carried out within the ambit of the law.
He warned that any attack on policemen will be resisted with minimum force, stressing that the organizers of such a protest will be held liable and made to face the full wrath of the law. Some residents alleged that policemen moved from house to house arresting people at random. The development caused tension in the state
A yet-to-be identified protester also reportedly died in the clash, while a young boy is said to have sustained bullet wound on the leg.
Sources claim that no fewer than five cars belonging to the suspects were impounded during the operation.
Onovwakpoyeya, added that “they have been charged to court”.
I-G condemns attack on policemen in Delta
Police Inspector-General Mohammed Adamu yesterday condemned the attack on policemen and destruction of operational vehicles and other assets by “ENDSARS” protesters in Ughelli.
Adamu said the incident resulted in the unfortunate death of Cpl. Etaga Stanley, attached to ‘A’ Division, Ughelli and also left Sgt. Patrick Okuone with injury from gunshot by the protesters.
According to him, the protesters also carted away one service AK47 rifle with breach no 56-2609008 and 25 rounds of live ammunition with the deceased at the time of the incident.
The I-G described the incident as cruel and unwarranted, and warned that the force would no longer tolerate any attack on its personnel or any member of the law enforcement community.
He said that although protest by citizens remain legitimate means for airing concerns and views, it “must be carried out with all sense of responsibility and within the confines of the law”.
The I-G condoled the family and friends of the late policeman who paid the supreme price in the service of the country.
Adamu commended the personnel of the Police Command in Delta for exercising restraint in the face of the immoral and unjustified provocation
He directed the Commissioner of Police in the state “to carry out investigation into the unfortunate incident, root-out the perpetrators and bring the killer protesters to book.’’
Omo-Agege seeks thorough investigation
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, also condemned the killing of Corporal Etaga Stanley.
He called for thorough investigation of the incident.
Omo-Agege in a statement by his media aide, Yomi Odunuga, in Abuja, described Etaga Stanley as an indigene of Ughelli South and a constituent of the Deputy President of the Senate.
He said Stanley lost his life in circumstances that appeared quite avoidable, and cannot be encouraged by peace-loving people.
While calling on the police to exercise restraint and follow due process in fishing out the alleged killers, he condoled with the family of the deceased, the entire police and his Delta Central Senatorial District for the sad loss.
He said: “I humbly call on our highly regarded traditional rulers to continue to urge our people to maintain the peace that we are known for in their various kingdoms and domains.
“Our Royal Fathers are a great force for peace at moments like this and we trust that they would help to ensure that those who wish to tear our communities apart do not succeed.
“We also call on our religious leaders to pray for our land. God will not allow the evil of bloodshed to reign in our land. Violence is never an option.
“No meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere devoid of peace. Let us embrace all peace initiatives by all stakeholders as Delta State is not known for violence and jungle justice.
“In dealing with this very serious and unfortunate matter and bringing those responsible to book, I have assurances of the Delta State Police Command that due process as dictated by the law would be strictly followed and there will not be indiscriminate arrest of innocent citizens as they go about their lawful businesses.”
Reacting to the protests, the Lagos State Government said it knew “how painful it is to be victims of police brutality.”
“It is not good. The message of the protests is clear – such acts of brutality must stop. We agree,” Information and Strategy Commissioner Gbenga Omotoso said in a statement.
He said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was discussing the issue with the Police authorities and hoped that the matter would be “resolved in the interest of our teeming youths and in the spirit of democracy.”
He added: “The government, therefore, seeks the patience and understanding of all those concerned. Steps are being taken to correct the wrongs that have been identified. Let us remain peaceful as the authorities are addressing the issue. The Lagos State Government will do everything possible to ensure that human rights of all Lagosians are protected at all times.
“The Inspector-General of Police should be allowed to handle the matter, having intervened and issued directives that address the major causes of the infractions that have pitched the people, especially youths, against SARS.
“Our appeal is predicated on the need to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the protests and disrupting our businesses and social lives, which are just picking up following the lethal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. That, in the interest of peace and security of the State and the nation at large, should not be allowed to happen as it will defeat the purpose of the protests. Two wrongs do not make a right.”
Government commended the protesters for “the peaceful way they have conducted themselves. The State Government will work with the relevant authorities to ensure that their grievances are dispassionately examined.”
Earlier in the day Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamsat had addressed hundreds of protesters at the State Government Secretariat, Alausa, charging the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) to put a stop to the incessant harassment and brutalising of Nigerians by some officers of the anti-robbery squad.
He recalled his own experience in the hands of SARS operatives some years back.
His words: ”Every decent Nigerian will be upset. This happened to me four years ago. I was going to Amuwo Odofin…they (SARS operatives) were not in uniform, they had guns, they just double crossed us and said we should get out.
“It’s okay to protest but I say clearly that it is wrong for any law enforcement agent to maim or criminalise another Nigerian without reasonable course.
“The police or the law enforcement agents must do their job. In doing that job, you cannot trample on the right of the citizens. You cannot say our youths, because of their looks or they are carrying computer are guilty of a crime. The police job is to arrest people and send them for prosecution if they do something wrong. That tenet must be adhered to.
“We are not against police fighting robbery but we are saying do not unjustifiably hurt our children because of their looks. Whoever is responsible should be arrested and prosecuted.”
He appealed to them not to block the roads.
The protesters had blocked the Alausa Secretariat expressway which serves as a major route for commuters. Hundreds of commuters were stranded on the ever-busy highway.
Lagos Assembly supports #EndSARS protests
Simultaneously, the Lagos State House of Assembly threw its weight behind the #EndSARS protest and called for the introduction of a new and well-structured security outfit to replace SARS..
The House also called on the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, to provide protection for the protesters while they express their grievances.
The call was made at an emergency sitting presided over by the Speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, to add a voice to the current call across the nation for an end to the widely reported alleged inhuman activities of the body.
Late Thursday, Obasa and some lawmakers had addressed some residents of Lagos who protested to the House of Assembly demanding for an end to F-SARS with some of them alleging that innocent people had become the major victims of the body.
Among the seven-point resolution passed after an extensive deliberation was also that the Senate and the House of Representatives should carry out a probe of the allegations against F-SARS including killing, maiming and dehumanising of Nigerians.