•Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, Imo, Plateau impose curfew
Many protesters were feared dead last night as soldiers deployed by the federal government stormed Lekki Tollgate in Lagos, where thousands of demonstrators had held their ground for 13 days in protest of police brutality.
A deep sense of outrage greeted the deployment of the soldiers who came as a sequel to the imposition of a 24-hour curfew by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who said he was shocked at the turn of events as the peaceful protests became infiltrated by hoodlums that torched a divisional police headquarter and a local government secretariat in the state.
Former US Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilary Clinton; former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili; an international artist, Gabrielle Union; Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took the lead in censoring the armed deployment, saying it was overkill against peaceful protesters demanding a stoppage to police abuse of their rights.
Sanwo-Olu had by 12 pm announced a 24-hour curfew that was to begin at 4 pm but was afterwards extended to 9 pm.
Hours after the announcement, staff of Lekki Concession Company (LCC), was seen on tape removing all the CCTV mounted on the tolls.
When dusk arrived, some unknown persons turned off all the street lights, throwing the toll-gate into pitch darkness.
Soon afterwards, the military arrived and ordered protesters to go home even with some few hours before the curfew would begin.
Led by one Gen F.O. Omata, formerly of Special Task Force Operation SAFE HAVEN and currently 81 Division Training Officer, Lagos, soldiers were seen on camera ordering the protesters to leave the tollgate.
Minutes after, they said: “This is your last warning, go home. We are warning you, go home.” Then, gunshots were heard.
A viral video showed that as people ducked or scampered to safety, a bullet hit one of the protesters and she died on the scene, while two others sustained bullet wounds on their leg and buttocks.
Many others were feared dead.
When the buzz died down, the protesters began to attend to the injured persons while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
The incident has drawn global and local condemnation.
Clinton joined the world to condemn the attack on unarmed protesters.
She wrote on her Twitter page, “I’m calling on @mbuhari and the @hqnigerianarmy to stop killing young #EndSARS protesters.
Hollywood actress, Gabrielle Union wrote, “#EndSARS. We need everyone’s voice to amplify what is going on as we speak!! The world is watching.”
According to SERAP, “We condemn reports that security agents are shooting at #EndSARS peaceful protesters at the Lekki gate, Lagos. This must stop immediately.
“Nigerian authorities have a duty to protect the rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly of everyone.
“Under the Nigerian constitution, 1999 [as amended] and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party, @NigeriaGov is obligated to respect and protect the right to life and security of the person, the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.”
Ezekwesili, while condemning the attack appealed to protesters to go home.
She said: “Friends, we are in absolute solidarity with all our young protesters of #EndSARS. Please do everything possible to move out of the line of fire of the murderous armed forces supervised by @NGRPresident @MBuhari. Please move out of your protest grounds. Please.”
Japheth Omojuwa, a social advocate said: “You extended your curfew to 9 pm but you are already murdering your own citizens at 7 pm?
“This has crossed into the lines of international crimes and crimes against humanity #ENDSARS @UNHumanRights @UNHCRNigeria @UKinNigeria @USinNigeria.”
The #EndSARS protesters had continued their protests yesterday with hoodlums taking advantage of it to unleash more violence on Abuja, Kano, Gombe, Jos, and Lagos, where armed thugs laid siege to different police divisions and set some ablaze.
The increasing violence in their states forced Governors Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, and Simon Lalong of Plateau State, and Hope Uzodinma of Imo State to impose 24-hour curfew to forestall breakdown of law and order.
While five persons were feared killed by hoodlums armed with guns, machetes, clubs and other dangerous weapons in Abuja, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has also extended the 24-hour curfew in the state, following the escalation of violence and the killing of two persons by thugs.
Jolted by the escalation of violence, Akeredolu, Fayemi and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State closed down schools in parts of their states to ensure the safety of students and their teachers.
However, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, ordered nationwide deployment of anti-riot policemen to check the activities of the hoodlums who have infiltrated the ranks of the genuine protesters.
As rage went on, the federal government told the international community that the protesters were making unreasonable demands after their initial five-point demands.
At the end of the violence in Lagos, no fewer than nine persons were feared dead – three in Ketu, Mile 12 area; two others in Orile Iganmu (including a policeman); one in Lamgbasa, Ajah; two in Mushin and one other shot at Tin-Can, Apapa.
The affected areas under attack by hoodlums include Orile Iganmu, Amukoko, Layeni, and Ijora areas of Lagos.
Also for allegedly rejecting the gunshot victim that was brought in from Tincan Island, Apapa, some hoodlums were said to have attacked the Lagoon Hospital at the Liverpool area of Apapa and set the frontage on fire.
The victim, who was shot by policemen during protests at Tincan, was said to have been rushed to Lagoon Hospital where he was allegedly rejected at the gate.
In a fit of rage, the hoodlums were said to have attacked the hospital.
But reacting to the incident, the hospital debunked claims that they rejected the gunshot victim.
“We attend to all emergency cases. He was brought in dead and the Okada (commercial motorcycle) man tried to abandon him.
“The Okada man drove away and dumped the dead body outside the hospital. We did not know he was left on the road. We are committed to assisting all those injured. Thank you to everyone supporting healthcare workers,” the hospital management said in a statement.
It clarified that the entire hospital was not set on fire.
“The ER entrance was damaged and they burnt tyres at the car park.
Thankfully, no staff was injured and though badly shaken, all are home now,” it said.
In Orile, the divisional police headquarters was razed by hoodlums and angry residents over the death of a young man, who was allegedly shot at close range by a policeman attached to the station.
In a reprisal, they set the police station ablaze, allegedly killed an officer, while other policemen fled for safety.
The irate mob invaded the station and made away with guns from the armoury and other police accoutrements, including uniforms.
The policemen who also jumped the fence in order to escape being caught in the inferno was said to have landed in the hands of the hoodlums who allegedly stabbed him to death.
The division, which is one of the few modern police stations in Lagos, was constructed in line with the UN model by the Babatunde Raji Fashola’s administration in 2012.
Sensing danger, the divisional police officer fled the station as initial attempts by the policemen to wade off the attack proved abortive.
The policemen were forced to abandon the station when the hoodlums procured fuel, sprinkled it at the backyard of the building and lit the fire.
Other coordinated attacks were carried out at Amukoko, Layeni, Ijora and Mushin.
In Mushin, the divisional police officer and his men were forced to defend the station with their guns and a young man was shot dead in the process.
Following the violent attacks, the Lagos State Governor, Sanwo-Olu, imposed a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the state from 4 pm (later 9 pm) on Tuesday, October 20.
The governor clarified that nobody, except essential service providers and first responders, must be found on the streets.
Sanwo-Olu said: “I have watched with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that is threatening the well-being of our society.”
“Lives and limbs have been lost as criminals and miscreants are now hiding under the umbrella of these protests to unleash mayhem on our state.
“As a government that is alive to its responsibility and has shown a commitment to the movement #ENDSARS, we will not watch and allow anarchy in our dear state”.
“I, therefore, hereby impose a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the state as from 4 pm today, 20th October 2020. Nobody, except essential service providers and first responders, must be found on the streets.”
In a follow-up action, the Lagos State Police Command also placed a ban on all gatherings and protests across the state henceforth.
According to the Police spokesman, SP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the command has deployed its anti-riot policemen to enforce the curfew.
He said: “In the light of this, all security agencies have deployed adequate personnel to take charge and enforce the curfew across the state.”
Confirming the incident at Orile, he said some policemen were critically injured and “unconfirmed reports state that one of them is dead.”
Adejobi said it was in the sustenance of their stance on managing the crisis professionally that the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, was forced by protesters to trek 10 kilometres at the Okota area to visit an octogenarian assaulted by the police.
The CP had gone to apologise to Mrs. Durojaiye Olaleye, who was assaulted by SP Tunji Ajakaiye, the second-in-command at the disbanded Anti -Kidnapping Unit, Surulere, when he was denied right of way by protesters.
Adejobi said in adherence to the professional manner in tolerating and managing several harassments, intimidations and provocations from the protesters, the CP obliged and trekked with his entourage for peace to reign.
He said the CP had earlier been denied access at the Murtala Mohammed Airport tollgate in Ikeja by another crop of protesters.
Meanwhile, those championing the EndSARS movement have reiterated calls for the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to resign if the government is serious about meeting their demands.
One of the protesters, Mr Debo Macaroni, an actor and content creator, said “By announcing that all our concerns have been taken care of, we must also see actions! The IG should resign!
“Officers involved should be prosecuted immediately!! But like I have said earlier, we must also take responsibility! We can’t continue to allow thugs to have their way.”
Meanwhile, the protests held for the 13th day at Allen Roundabout/ Awolowo road; Agidingbi Road/ Lagos Radio/LTV; and Alausa, all in Ikeja.
Areas also affected by the roadblocks mounted by protesters were Isheri Olowora, Magodo, Agbara, Lagos- Badagry Express Way, Lekki Toll gate, Ikotun Roundabout, Arepo, Lagos- Ibadan Expressway and Mushin Bus Stop.
The protest also held in areas like Sadiku Ilasa, Apapa Oshodi Express Way, Ojuelegba inward Shitta Roundabout from National Stadium, Costain, Iyana-Ipaja, Ojota, Mile 12, Ketu and Okota.
Flights at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport were disrupted as domestic and international airlines were forced to cancel their Lagos- bound flights following the 24-hour curfew imposed by the Lagos State Government.
Although the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) did not close the airspace, airlines had to cancel flights because of the restriction of movement.
Fayemi, Akeredolu, Lalong, Oyetola, Uzodinma Impose Curfew
Meanwhile, as part of the efforts to curtail the violence associated with the EndSARS protest in Ekiti State, Fayemi has imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state.
The curfew became effective from 10 pm yesterday and would last for 24 hours.
This was contained in a statement issued yesterday by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji.
Justifying the curfew, Fayemi, in the statement said that: “In the past 48 hours there have been incidents of gang-rape, robberies, and physical assaults on innocent people, looting and burning of a police station. These acts of brigandage are not in consonance with the legitimate aspirations of the protesters. It cannot be logical to seek to remedy impunity with impunity.”
The governor, through the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Kofoworola Aderiye, also directed the closure of all private and public schools in the state for the rest of the week.
Osun State Governor, Oyetola, also imposed a curfew on all parts of the state, effective from 11.59 pm yesterday until further notice.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji, the state government noted that the events of the last 48 hours had shown clearly that the protests had been hijacked by criminals and hoodlums.
“As a responsible and responsive government that took the sacred oath to protect the lives and property of our citizens, we will not sit and watch criminals unleash terror on our state,” he said.
Ondo State Governor, Akeredolu, last night announced the imposition of a 24-hour curfew on the state.
The curfew, a sequel to the protests, which had grounded commercial, social and economic activities was declared during a broadcast to the people of the state.
Akeredolu, in a statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, directed that all schools should be closed for the meantime from today.
Plateau State Governor, Lalong, also imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state to forestall further escalation of the protest that has snowballed into a full-blown riot in the state.
Addressing the state in Jos, the state capital yesterday, Lalong said: “I have directed the imposition of a 24-hour curfew in Jos South and Jos North Local Government Areas with effect from 8:00 pm today Tuesday, October 20, 2020, till further notice. By this directive, all forms of protests are hereby banned in the two Local Governments Areas of Jos North and Jos South.”
Three persons were feared killed and properties including cars, houses, shops, among others, destroyed in Jos yesterday as hoodlums hijacked the protest, turning it into a bloody riot, attacking and maiming citizens, and burning properties.
No fewer eight cars and six buildings were reportedly torched as the hoodlums went wild barricaded the roads leading into and out of the city centre.
In Gombe, the protests turned violent as the youths trooped out wielding various dangers weapons on the streets.
The State Correspondent of The Nation newspapers, Mr. Shola Shittu, as well as the crew of NTA in the state and other journalists were attacked in the violent protest.
In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, no fewer than three persons were allegedly killed in Ojo area of the state capital, as policemen opened fire on hoodlums who allegedly attacked a police station.
Sporadic gunshots rent the air for almost an hour which made people scampered for safety.
Following the incident, the Oyo State Governor, Makinde, has ordered the closure of schools in the state from today.
Makinde announced this in a broadcast yesterday.
The governor said schools will remain closed for the rest of the week while efforts are made to douse the tension in Ibadan, the state capital.
In Edo State, the state government said that the 24-hour (round-the-clock) curfew imposed in the state on Monday, October 19 subsists and is active till further notice.
As such, it said everyone is expected to remain indoors, noting that security agencies have been deployed in the streets to ensure full compliance as anyone found contravening the directive will be dealt with according to the law.
The statement signed by the Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, urged parents and guardians to restrain their children, wards and youths from flouting the order, as security agencies will not spare any errant individual.
Two people were reportedly shot to death yesterday at Santana Market along Sapele Road in Benin City as hoodlums engaged policemen who were trying to maintain peace in the area.
The youths according to eyewitness account met their deaths when they in conjunction with others opened fire on sighting a Mobile Police patrol van that came out to enforce the state government’s 24-hours curfew.
Violence also escalated yesterday in Apo Mechanic Area of Abuja between traders and local people opposed to the protests.
There is fear that the crisis might assume ethnic dimension between the Igbo traders and the locals and Hausa communities.
Many shops, houses and cars were razed as a result of the latest escalation of tension.
Also protesters barricaded the road in Sokale Bus-stop around Dutse Alhaji, bordering the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway.
The protesters had a faceoff with soldiers, who shot to scare them off.
THISDAY gathered that five persons were killed by the hoodlums, while several sustained injuries.
Three of the victims were said to have been killed in the hotspot Dutsen Alhaji and Apo Waru areas of Abuja.
The Kubwa-Zuba Expressway and the International Airport Road were locked down to traffic.
The violence forced the deployment of policemen and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to the scene to ensure free vehicular and human movement.
The major crisis hotspot, however, was in Dutse in the Bwari Area Council, where two protesters were killed.
Soldiers shot sporadically to disperse the demonstrators at Sokale Bus-stop at Dutse Alhaji, bordering the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway when the crisis began.
The protests also turned violent in Kano as 15 vehicles were burnt, and several shops vandalised.
Violence erupted from Sarkin Yaki and spread to Freetown, Court Road, Zangeru Road in Sabon Gari before the protesters were dispersed by the policemen.
Unconfirmed reports revealed that two people feared dead during the protest.
Also, at Airport Road, a vehicle was seen burnt in front of St. Thomas Secondary school and another one at Hausa Road junction by Airport Road.
Crisis broke out when some protesters stormed the Sabon-Gari area of Kano and set some vehicles on fire at various locations.
The Kano State Police Commissioner, Mr. Habu Sani confirmed the violence and said the seven vehicles were burnt and eight by vehicles damaged, while two motorcycles were burnt.
Protesters Making Unreasonable Demands, Says FG
Meanwhile, the federal government has said that the protesters across the country were making unreasonable demands, after the initial five-point demands were met.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this yesterday while briefing the international community in Abuja.
The briefing was at the instance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, and had in attendance, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada; and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Antonia Ekpa.
Mohammed said that on October 12, Buhari personally intervened when he addressed Nigerians and said the disbandment of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) was the first step in the comprehensive reform of the police in Nigeria.
The minister explained that on October 13, the IG immediately summoned all former members of SARS for debriefing, medical examination before redeployed and two days later, the National Economic Council (NEC), took far-reaching decisions, which took care of every demand of the protesters.
He stressed that the five demands made by the protesters which included the immediate release of all arrested protesters; justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families; the setting up of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct within 10 days, and others were received by the authorities and on October 11, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Adamu, announced the disbandment of SARS across the country.
Mohammed decried that some people who were not part of the original movement were using the movement to ask for unreasonable demands, and have moved from #EndSARS to #EndBuhari.
He stated: “The government noticed very soon that some people with ulterior motives were exploiting a very innocent and just protest to destabilise the polity. The movement started very peacefully, but very soon, we witnessed looting, assassination attempt on the governor of Osun State, and burning and looting of malls.
“In Benin, they freed 2,000 inmates, in Lagos today (yesterday), they set ablaze police stations and both the governments of Edo and Lagos have been compelled to impose curfews.
“The demands they came with first have been met. But now, we have some people who were not part of the original movement now using this movement to ask for unreasonable demands. From #EndSARS, we now hear #EndBuhari.”
The minister said what bothered the government was that after the five demands had been comprehensively met, the protest, rather than abate, has been getting stronger.
He stressed that the development troubled the government and it felt there was the need to give out the correct narrative out there.
Mohammed added: “We are not a repressive regime. For the past 12, 13 days, protesters have been allowed to express themselves provided they don’t get violent. The police have conducted themselves very admirably, even under provocation, they remained very restrained.”
The minister opined that no responsible government would fold its arms and allow the country to go into anarchy, adding that the government owes all Nigerians the responsibility to protect their lives and their sources of livelihood.
He stressed that in the last 14 days, many Nigerians have been prevented, especially in Lagos, from going to work, while police have been attacked in several states and even some members of the movement have admitted that the movement has been hijacked, forcing some of them to resign, adding that “as we speak today, the problem is that, who are these leaders?”
Mohammed said, “And we believe that it is important for the international community to actually know what is happening. As we speak today, there are still demonstrations everywhere in Nigeria. Protesters are not hindered as long as they do not constitute a danger to other people.
“Sunday night, the Central Bank was taken over, it was almost set on fire, we don’t see that as part of the peaceful demonstration. The attack on the Governor of Osun State that went there to engage them, we don’t see that as part of a peaceful demonstration.”
The minister, however, assured the international community that the government would continue to obey the rule of law, while also saying that democracy will continue to thrive in the country.
He said protests such as #EndSARS were integral part of democracy, and the government has set up every structure to allow the matter to be resolved, but unfortunately, it seemed that people with ulterior agenda have hijacked the protest.