Counting the Cost

0

Chiemelie Ezeobi, Mary Nnah, Rebecca Ejifoma, Chiamaka Ozulumba and Oluwabunmi Fache write that the devastation left in the wake of the widespread violence after the #EndSARS protest range from loss of lives to looting and destruction of public and public properties

When the #EndSARS protests started, the protesters, mostly youths, were unequivocal about their objectives- ending police brutality. This was supposed to be a violence-free protest, but different factors marred it. At the end of the two-week nationwide protests, violence, loss of lives (both civilians and security operatives), looting and vandalism were the order of the day.

Death Toll

It was President Muhammad Buhari that first gave an insight into the total fatality and casualty figures nationwide. According to the president, 69 people were killed during the protest nationwide. Giving a breakdown, he said those who died include: 51 civilians, 11 police officers and seven soldiers among several unknown.

Hackers

The endless cyberattacks on government and security portals also exposed the underbelly of its weak technology. During the protest, some anonymous hackers sustained coordinated cyberattacks on websites owned by the state government, health and financial institutions, as well as security agencies.

These coordinated attacks came 72hours after it demanded for the Nigerian Government to end police brutality in Nigeria.

Codenamed Operation Nigeria, the hackers drawn from LiteMods, Skeletor, Shadow_xor, Lorian Synaro and Anonymous Central, among several others, attacked different platforms, hacking some and taking others offline.

Attack on the Media

During the protest, so many journalists and media houses were targeted and attacked. Reporters and cameramen from African Independent Television (AIT), Silverbird Media, Arise TV, Channels and TVC were attacked in Lagos and Abuja. Some others suffered severe bodily injuries with their cameras damaged by the hoodlums and also security operatives.

In Gombe, the cameramen of NTA Gombe, Jimmy Dantsafta; Musa Mohammed of Channels Television; Christopher Luka of Viewers TV were attacked. Other journalists- Shola Shittu of The Nation Newspaper and Chika Udenko of AIT were beaten to a pulp while in Osun State, Mr. Toyin Yusuf, staff of Osun State Broadcasting Service was assaulted and hospitalised.

Three photojournalists attacked were a member of NUJ Executive in Lagos State Council, Mr. Isaac Ayodele of The Nation, Mr. Abiodun Williams and Mr. Mike Otogu.

In series of attacks on the media, the irate youths stormed Television Continental (TVC) and set it ablaze with the staff on duty. Again, it took concerted efforts from the deployment of anti-riot policemen before the staff could escape to safety.

Hours later, the mob turned on The Nation Newspaper, possibly over its affiliation with Bola Ahmed Tinubu and set it on fire. LTV was also not left out.

Widespread Violence

Across the nation, widespread violence rocked different states, resulting to break down of law and order.

In Calabar, all hell was let loose as multiple public and private infrastructure were either looted or vandalised.

Affected facilities include Cold Stone Store and Domino’s Pizza, Calabar Municipality and Calabar South Area Councils, Nigerian Chronicles Newspapers office, Cross River State Property Investment Limited, Independence National Electoral Commission, Calabar Discount Mall (harbouring Valuemat Supermarket and other stores), Ministry of Works warehouse, First Bank, Cross River Agric Development Project, Commercial Transport Regulatory Agency, Department of Petroleum Resources, Niger Delta Development Commission, Cross River State Roll Back Malaria centre, Bulavaard Joint, and West African Examination Council.

Also affected were Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Access Bank, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba’s house, Senator Gershom Bassey’s house, Cross River Garment Factory, Ayade Fueling Station, National Identity Management Commission, National Television Authority, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, IDH Hospital,
Empowerment warehouse, University of Calabar Publishing Center, UNICAL Microfinance Bank, UNICAL Main Library, Lafarge (former UNICEM) trucks loaded with cement hijacked, Calabar Mall Cultural Centre (harbouring SPAR Supermarket and other stores), shops in Watt Market, Carnival Calabar Treasury House, and Mary Slessor by UNICAL Main Gate.

Not left out were the Accountant General Office, lWHO and Cross River State Health Insurance Scheme (AyadeCare) offices, Government Secondary School, Peace Mass Transport Park, Spark Shop Calabar, Eco Bank, UDEC Phone Shop, Pensioners Office, Cross River State Water Board Limited (CRSWBL) Residences, as well as Hon. Eta Mbora’s apartments and properties.

In Lagos, the family house of Governor Sanwo-Olu in Surulere, BRT buses in Berger and Oyingbo Terminal; NPA Headquarters in Marina, Lagos City Mall, Igbosere Magistrate Court and Ibeju-lekki Local Government Secretariat, Television Continental (TVC), The Nation Newspaper; Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) building and vehicles, LASEMA trucks in Ikotun and Alausa, Bella’s place owned by Mike Adenuga, Shoprite Mall in Sangotedo, Spar, Circle Mall in Jakande, Iga Idugaran, the official palace of the Oba of Lagos; Ajeromi Ifelodun Secretariat, Lagoon Hospital, Liverpool Apapa and many others were either razed or vandalised.

In Akwa Ibom, Zenith, Access, and FCMB bank buildings were among the facilities vandalised by hoodlums in Uyo. Also, an electronics shop and a popular store, De Choice Mall, in Uyo, were also vandalised and looted.

Banks Count Losses

In the aftermath of the violence, affected banks took stock of their losses. At the last count, 67 bank branches were destroyed and many automated teller machines (ATMs) damaged.While the hoodlums torched some bank branches, they broke into others in a bid to access their vaults.

A breakdown of the number of branches affected across the country earlier compiled by THISDAY showed that 10 branches of FirstBank Nigeria Limited were damaged; Union Bank of Nigeria- 10; Guaranty Trust Bank – nine; Access Bank Plc – eight; Fidelity Bank – seven; and six branches of First City Monument Bank(FCMB) were destroyed.

Also, three branches each of Wema Bank and Sterling Bank were damaged; two of the branches each belong to Stanbic IBTC and Unity Bank respectively while Heritage Bank, Ecobank and Polaris Bank lost a branch each respectively.

Sweeping Devastation in Police Formations

Across the country, there were coordinated attacks against police formations. While some were burnt, others were vandalised with police uniforms, weapons and accoutrements looted.

The Lagos State Police Command seemed to have borne the brunt of the violence.

From loss of lives and injuries to destruction and vandalism of its police stations, patrol vehicles and even Armoured Patrol Carrier (APC).

At the last count, the command said six policemen were killed, while 38 others were injured with some still in critical condition.

The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, who made this disclosure at the command headquarters in Ikeja, also revealed that 29 formations were either burnt or vandalised by hoodlums who hijacked the peaceful protests across the state.

According to Odumosu, the six policemen killed were ASP Yard Edward, attached to Denton Police Station; Inspector Olayinka Erinfolami of defunct Anti Kidnapping Unit (AKU); Inspector Adegbenro Aderibigbe attached to Meiran Division, Sergeant Abejide Abiodun of Department of Operations (DOPs), State Headquarters and two others attached to Orile Division.

He said 58 police vehicles were burnt,13 vandalised, while 62 vehicles belonging to individuals and those connected with some pending cases (exhibits) were burnt, in addition to nine other vehicles which were vandalised by the hoodlums.

Odumosu also disclosed that 15 motorcycles and tricycles were torched and 65 vandalised at various locations across the state.

The stations burnt in Lagos were Orile, Amukoko, Layeni, Ilasamaja, Ikotun, Ajah, Igando, Elemoro, Makinde, Onipanu, Ebute Ero, Pen-Cinema, Isokoko, Alade, Cele, Igbo Elerin, Shibiri, Gbagada, Onilekere, Makoko, Daleko, Asahun, Makinyo, Amuwo-Odofin, Anti-Kidnapping, Surulere. Other police stations that were vandalised but not burnt were Ojo, Ojodu, Mowo, PPL and Morogbo.

Other loss accrued by the police were the burnt case files, computer sets, personal and vehicle exhibits, personal cars and uniforms of policemen, and most importantly, their weapons, which was looted from the armoury.

In the armoury, the hoodlums made away with an unknown number of AK47 guns and pistols, from each of the police stations they visited and overpowered. Although the police are yet to come up with a total number of weapons that were stolen, THISDAY can report that about 18 have been recovered across the state.

In Anambra, the DPO in Osumenyi in Nnewi South local government area of Imo State and the station officer in the division were killed. Also
Amichi, Osumeyi, Ezinifite-Nnewi and Ukpor Divisions all under Nnewi South LGA, and Oraifite Area Command/Division were vandalised and set the facilities ablaze, with exhibits carted away.

In Calabar, Atakpa Police Station at Watt Market was burnt down while Mbukpa Police Station, Mbukpa was razed.

Arrests, Prosecution

In affected states, the police swung into action to ensure that those hijacked the EndSARS protest to unleash havoc on society, especially by vandalising and looting both government and private properties, were arrested and prosecuted.

In Anambra, six suspects were arrested after the incident, while in Kano, the police command arrested 59 suspects accused of looting. Out of the 59 suspects arrested, 31 suspects were for looting, vandalism and malicious damage properties while the 28 other suspects were arrested for other crimes.

The Lagos Police Command arrested 520 suspects for various offences ranging from arson, robbery, murder, rioting, malicious damage, and unlawful possession of firearms. However, most of the suspects denied involvement in the violence alleging that they were picked up randomly during raids.

Also in Lagos, the state government said it will be prosecuting all suspected hoodlums arrested in connection with the mayhem unleashed on the state.

The state Ministry of Justice said their case files were being evaluated preparatory to prosecution on charges of arson, murder, stealing, malicious damage of properties, assault among others.

In Adamawa State, the police arrested 120 suspected hoodlums who allegedly looted items from government and private warehouses under the guise of EndSARS protest. They recovered many stolen items including tractors, cars and farm implements.

In Kaduna, no fewer than 25 suspects were arrested for allegedly looting private and public property while in Kwara State, the police command arrested 144 hoodlums who looted government and private property in the state.

In Kogi State, 56 suspects were arrested for looting of some warehouses and offices. Some looted items recovered from the suspects include water pumping machines, agro-chemicals, cartons of surgical gloves and a kit containing spanners and screwdrivers. Also recovered were different types/models of motorcycles, tricycles, two sacks containing forcefully-dismembered air conditioners, computers and electronic gadgets.

Demotivated Police
With the stand down order by the police hierarchy during the protest, most of them were incapacitated to defend their lives and divisions.

The aftermath is a gravely demotivated police who could care less about the looming anarchy given that they watched their police stations and personal effect burnt down and were powerless to fight back.

For the good cops, it was particularly demoralising when they were punished alongside the bad eggs in the force.

But the Lagos Governor recently led members of his cabinet to the Police Command Headquarters in Ikeja to restore confidence in the system. Promising
scholarships for the children of slain cops as well as compensation for their families, he also pledged that the state would fund the burial of the murdered cops, as well as foot medical bills of injured police officers in the protest.

He also said government will consider insurance for serving police officers of Lagos Command, adding that all burnt stations would be remodeled and two new generators provided to power the command.

Sanwo-Olu, the police said, noted that it was time for improved police-citizens relationship, urging the officers to ensure that their uniform represented dignity, pride, honour and discipline.

Economic Loss

From loss of livelihoods to cancelled flights, the widespread loss of revenue was crippling. Although no concrete figure has been put out about the summary of loss accrued during and after the protests, the take of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) was that Nigeria lost more than N700 billion in economic value within the two weeks the #EndSARS protest lasted.

This figure might have sky rocketed in the aftermath of the violence which saw public and private businesses and facilities facilitated and looted.

Stock Market Takes a Hit

Perhaps more alarming was the loss accrued by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) at close of trading on Wednesday. The stock went down from N14.983 trillion to N14.870 trillion, shedding N113 billion.

According to analysts, the market reacted to the security situation arising from the hijacked protests in Lagos, which resulted to the loss of lives and vandalism of private and public owned properties. So instead of investing, investors were more drawn to the safety of their investments.

Burden of Rebuilding

Having taken stock of the extent of damage across the nation, it would be a Herculean task to rebuild, especially with the paucity of funds and the fact that the repairs wasn’t captured in the 2021 budget.

In Lagos, Governor Sanwo-Olu after an inspection of the assets destroyed by the arsonists, described the attack in Lagos as “coordinated wanton destruction”, saying it would take the state many decades to recover from the devastation.
From the latest estimate by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, after a rough assessment of destroyed properties, it would cost over N1 trillion to rebuild public and private property destroyed by hoodlums in Lagos.

This was corroborated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who said the figure was needed for the reconstruction and repair of the properties and infrastructure that was vandalised and destroyed by hoodlums.

Meanwhile, one of the first measures put in place by the state government was to announce support for store owners. As announced by the state Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, the state government’s plan Is to support owners of stores that were vandalised or looted by hoodlums.

He tweeted, “If you are a Lagos based business and your store got looted and vandalised this week, please fill this form by @LSETFhttps://t.co/lwPiXvFzTp. Let’s do what we can to support you.”

With the support from the state government and other organisations, this no doubt will help alleviate and stimulate economic activities, as well as produce many positive multiplier effects on the already dampened economy.