#EndSARS Protest Turns Bloody in Benin, Two Feared Dead as Thugs Attack Protesters
*Obaseki mourns, tasked police to bring culprits to justice
By Adibe Emenyonu
No fewer than two people were feared dead Friday when hooldums attacked peaceful #EndSARS protesters in Benin-City, capital of Edo State.
The state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, swiftly condemned the attack on the #EndSARS protesters by the unidentified hoodlums, noting that a thorough investigation would commence immediately to bring the culprits to justice.
Obaseki charged the Police Command to come out in full force to provide adequate security to the protesters, as they were exercising their rights as concerned citizens of Nigeria.
“I have just learnt that hoodlums have attacked #ENDSARS protesters, who have conducted themselves peacefully in Benin City. I extend condolences to the victims of the attacks, including those who lost their lives and others who were injured by the thugs,” Obaseki said in a statement.
The governor also tweeted his condolences from his official twitter handle @GovernorObaseki.
Armed with a white coffin and placards of various shapes and inscriptions, the protesters moved from the Kings Square, major roads and streets and Osadebay Avenue Government House Benin City.
They also chanted anti government slogans such as “Buhari Must Go and EndSARS”
Some hoodlums suspected to be boys from popular quarters in Oredo council area of the state were said to have been miffed by the disruptive actions of the #EndSARS protesters which according to them, disturbed their daily businesses.
They were said to have hauled stones at the protesters and also shot into the air which reportedly left two dead and caused several of them to sustain injuries in the process.
But irked by the ugly development, the protesters, in a reprisal, took the fight back to where the suspected thugs converged at the National Museum ground at the King’s Square (Ring Road) where they engaged in a bloody fight.
One of the victims who was caught in the crossfire during the free-for-all, Godswill Abere, had his forehead broken and soaked in blood.
Mr Abere told newsmen that he was not part of the #EndSARS protest, but was given the beating of his life over alleged claims that he was taking pictures of the fracas.
“I was just on my way from the bank. When I got to the Airport Road, some boys just attacked me because I was holding my phone. They claimed that I wanted to take pictures and videos of them. So, they snatched my phone and started hitting me from different angles,” he said.
“I am yet to recover the phone. They have my phone. The make is Tecno Camon 12. I was not part of the protest,” Mr Abere stated.
Also, one of the #EndSARS protesters who gave his name as Dennis Osaretin, said their action was in solidarity with the protest that is currently going on across the states of the country.
He said, “I am here to show solidarity to the Nigerian youths on their recent call for the end of SARS and not just the end of SARS but for a total overhaul and reform of the Nigeria Police and the entire Nigeria security architecture and to a larger extent, a total reform and overhaul of the Nigerian states.”
“All we are looking for now, is a state that works for all, a state that works for the youth, provides employment, provides safety and security for our people beyond the lips service.
“We have come out here to show that we are tired of the way the country is and we want something for a change at least for once,” Mr Osaretin said.
The protesters had also called for a total end to SARS and SWAT and for drastic measures towards ending impunity and brutality by operatives of the country’s police force.
However, the siege mounted by angry protesters caused endless hours of traffic gridlock along Sapele road, Akpkpava, New Lagos and New Benin roads, Sakponba and All the link roads leading to the Government reservation Areas (GRA).
Commuters were stranded in traffic while the protest lasted.