•71 public warehouses, 248 private stores looted
•IG to policemen: With 22 personnel killed, defend yourselves when attacked
•Obong of Calabar: Ayade’s insensitivity fuelled Cross River’s violence
By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja, Segun James in Lagos and Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The death toll nationwide from the violence that erupted during the #EndSARS protests has now been revised to 73, with 22 of them policemen.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who gave the latest statistics on fatalities in Abuja yesterday, also directed his officers and men to henceforth sturdily defend themselves if attacked by hoodlums again.
The protests against the now-dissolved police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), metamorphosed into days of killings and looting across the country.
Unveiling the gory statistics during a virtual meeting with commissioners of police in the 36 states and FCT, the IG also disclosed that 71 public warehouses and 248 privately owned stores were looted in the course of the protests in 13 states and the FCT.
The states are Lagos, Edo, Delta, Oyo, Kano, Plateau, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Abia, Imo, and Ekiti states, as well as FCT.
The statistics were collated between October 11, 2020 when the #EndSARS protest assumed a national dimension and October, 27, 2020.
According to the IG, the affected states recorded major violence leading to attacks on critical national security infrastructure and other corporate and private properties as well as injuries or fatalities to civilians, the police and other security agents.
Adamu said 205 critical national security assets, corporate facilities and private property were attacked, burnt or vandalised.
“So far, a total of 10 firearms including eight AK 47 rifles stolen during the attack on police stations and a locally made pistol have been recovered from elements operating under the guise of the #EndSARS protesters”, he said.
In addition, 1,596 suspects were arrested in connection with the violence and widespread looting by hoodlums, who hijacked the protests across the country.
The breakdown shows that 520 suspects were arrested in Lagos, 367 in Plateau State, 210 in the FCT and 142 in Kwara State.
Similarly, 82 suspects were apprehended in Osun State, 60 in Adamawa State and 36 in Kano and Ogun states respectively.
He said 33 suspects were arrested in Edo State, 20 each in Kaduna and Akwa Ibom states, 15 in Abia and Delta states and 13 in Oyo and Ekiti states respectively.
Furthermore, 10 suspects were arrested in Rivers State and four in Ondo State.
“Out of these figures, not less than 1,117 have been charged to court across the country”, Adamu said.
IG to Policemen: Defend Yourselves When Attacked
Meanwhile, IG Adamu yesterday asked all personnel of the force to protect themselves against attacks, saying his officers and men have the right to defend themselves in case of physical danger.
The IG, who spoke on the attacks on policemen during an assessment tour of the Federal Capital Territory Police Command, also encouraged the operatives, who had abandoned the streets in the past five days following the killing of over 22 policemen during the #EndSARS violence, to return to their beats.
Adamu alleged that the #EndSARS protesters were out to demoralise the personnel, adding that the government and the Nigeria Police Force would soon roll out packages for the families of the deceased officers.
He said: “The unity of this country lies in the support that is given to police officers because if you are demoralised, the tendency is for criminals to take over the public space, and the country is relying on us to make sure that the public space is not taken over by the criminals. So, no amount of provocation, no amount of insult would make us shy away from our responsibilities.
“Inasmuch as we are aware that the government is behind us; so, we would encourage you to keep performing your duties. We would encourage you to be professional, to be civic, but if anybody touches you, if anybody comes to assault you, you can also protect yourself.
“When we talk of human rights, the police are human; so, the rights of police officers would also be protected. So, we are sending the message that legally, we have the right to protect ourselves but while we are doing that, we make sure that until we are endangered.”
Assessment Committee Inaugurated
The IG has inaugurated a 9-man committee to undertake an assessment of the loss suffered by the Nigeria Police Force across the country during the #EndSARS protests.
The IG said the setting up of the assessment committee was informed by the need to properly document the loss suffered by the police for the purpose of strategic planning, re-construction and re-equipment, as well as for future reference.
He said the force encountered huge losses in terms of human and material resources during the #EndSARS protests which commenced on a rather peaceful note but unfortunately degenerated into violence, loss of lives and wanton destruction of property.
The committee, whose chairman is CP Abutu Yaro, was charged by the IG to see the assignment as a call to service and that it must be undertaken with purposefulness, empathy, dedication and sacrifice.
The terms of reference of the Committee include the physical visit to the scenes of incidents and capture the pictorials of all damages done to police infrastructure and personnel; verify the fatalities suffered by the police; establish the weapons holdings that were lost during the incidents, amongst others.
The IG particularly emphasised that the committee should visit families of deceased police officers and the injured on behalf of the force.
IG Tells Amnesty His Men Did Not Shoot Protesters
The IG yesterday contested a report by the Amnesty International that policemen deployed excessive force against #EndSARS protesters.
The police denied the claim in a statement by the force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, titled, “EndSARS protests: Police personnel were professional and exercised maximum restraints, IGP tells Amnesty International.”
Adamu argued that his men “acted professionally, exercised commendable restraints and some paid the supreme price for peace, during the protests and the ensuing violence in parts of the country.”
According to him, 22 police officers also lost their lives while 205 police stations and formations were torched.
The global rights group had in its report knocked the police for assaulting the activists demanding police reforms, noting that they used excessive force on them.
Amnesty International stated that over 12 protesters died during the ensuing violence.
But the IG described the AI’s report as untrue, misleading and “contrary to all available evidence.”
The police statement said: “The IGP noted that during the protests, officers of the Force used legitimate means to ensure that the protests were carried out in a peaceful manner and in most cases, physically protected and walked side-by-side with the protesters.
“He reiterated that even when the protests turned violent in some parts of the country, the officers still maintained utmost restraint and did not use excessive force in managing the situations.
“Available reports indicate that 22 police personnel were extra-judicially killed by some rampaging protesters and scores were injured during the protests,” the IG disclosed.
53 Arrested over Abuja NYSC Camp Looting
Also yesterday, Adamu stated that not less than 53 persons have been arrested by security operatives in connection with the looting of properties at the orientation camp of the National Youth Service Corps in the Kubwa area of Abuja.
The IG stated this in an interview with journalists after an on-the-spot assessment of the NYSC camp, in conjunction with the NYSC Director-General, Brig. General Ibrahim Shuaibu.
He also assured that those who looted the NYSC camp, stealing kits and other items would be punished accordingly.
According to him, some of the looters have voluntarily returned the items they stole.
LCC Ready to Show Footage of Lekki Shootings
The management of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) has expressed readiness to show the footage of the shootings of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate allegedly by soldiers.
The Head of the Legal Department of LCC, Mr. Gbolahan Agboluwaje, made this known when he appeared before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for Victims of SARS and Related Abuses and Other Matters, yesterday.
Agboluwaje noted that the footage of the October 20 shootings of the #EndSARS protesters allegedly by the soldiers is available.
He said there are hours of recordings on the CCTV footage, stating that the LCC received summons from the panel on Wednesday, to appear before it, present the October 20 footage, tender an investigation report and any other document.
He said the “LCC is prepared to air the footage before the panel” but that no investigation report or document was available.
“We have the footage. We do not have an investigation report because we know that investigations are ongoing and we have not been able to provide any document.
“We had a very short notice and we brought what we were able to lay our hands on.”
Agboluwaje also told the panel that due to the short notice of the summons, the Managing Director of LCC, Abayomi Omomuwa, would not be able to testify.
He explained that this was because the company was yet to hire an external counsel to represent the Managing Director.
However, Omomuwa had been sworn-in to give evidence before the panel.
Responding, the Chairman of the nine-man panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi (Retd.), granted Agboluwaje’s request for a short adjournment.
Obong of Calabar: Violence in Cross River Fuelled by Ayade’s Insensitivity
The Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, has blamed the alleged insensitivity of the Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, and the political class for the recent violent #EndSARS protest that rocked the city of Calabar.
The grand patriarch of the Efik Kingdom stated this yesterday when a former governor of the state, Mr. Liyel Imoke paid him a solidarity visit over the incident.
The Efik monarch stated that he was marked for attack during the protest that resulted in the burning of private and public infrastructure in Calabar and its environs, Addressing Imoke, who was accompanied by a large entourage, the monarch stated that if Ayade and the political class were sensitive and proactive, the youths, whom he noted were proxies of politicians, would not have been so angry to the extent of destroying property and bringing the state to its knees.
“If I may ask one question, the youths are they just coming today? They have been here since your administration and in the previous administrations. Are they just coming up today? The youths have always been there. Why has this not happened before?
“So, let’s look at it critically, why has it not happened? I realise one thing, and I have to tell you the truth. The key is that the party that I use to know, called themselves a family, and that was the way the party was going, and that was the way the people looked at themselves, and it was a family. And as such, you were always discussing with the people, and taking ideas from the people. It was from there that it extended to other set of people to maintain peace and order.
“But when there is a total blanket separating the two, what do you think will happen? What you people were building has been destroyed.
“You were building a time bomb gradually and now it has exploded. Now we start looking for where the problem came from. We know where the problem came from:
“It is not from those youths, it is the way you politicians handled them. And please, I am happy that you are here, and you gathered all these people that are reasonable and care for the good of the state. I am not talking about Calabar alone,” the Obong said.
Apparently sending a message to Ayade, the monarch continued: “Please tell our Excellency (governor); even though you say it is not time to put blame, whether you like it or not, the buck stops on his table and we have to have a solution to this problem. We have to face it right out there. We don’t need to play around with it, we cannot continue this way. You tell him that there is a need for total reconciliation; a total rehabilitation of whatever he has been doing.
“Everybody matters in this state. He should be able to talk to people. In those days, the chairman of the party used to be a father, the governor runs to him; and the governor doesn’t take decision without input from party members. I think our high brother up there came and turned it round and gave the governor the power to do all things and all sorts.”
“I have been watching and I am so unhappy that the peace and calm that we used to have here is taken away. Why? Because we have failed; Who have failed? The politicians have failed. That is why we sit down to watch you people.
“There is need to change. And if I had my way I could have said, this governor should wait, let’s set up an interim administration; then he starts learning and looking at how administration is actually done.
“We don’t allow people to come in and do anything the way they like it. No! there is a principle, there is a policy that should be adhered to.
“I mean, nobody talks to him; he doesn’t talk to anybody, no matter what happens. You (Imoke) used to call me from time to time when there was need for that. But this one, he wouldn’t call you. Even when you call him, he doesn’t answer the call. Nobody talks to him. But, rather what are we doing? We are all running away. I realised that every politician needs to build a fort for himself. Taking the youths that don’t even know what is happening, around himself and another politician doing same.
Gradually it becomes a conflict of interest when they want to be the same thing at the same time and they start fighting themselves.”
The monarch said he was unhappy that the youths became violent even when they were protesting over a legitimate cause, saying “It is not those boys that I am blaming. Yes, I blame them because they have gone beyond the limit of what they could have…. They could have gone to the streets and make noise again and again, and everybody will know that something needs to be done properly, but when you go to destroy all that others had suffered to put in place, which is the only aspect of it that I am not happy about.”
Asking for a change of attitude from the political leaders over the led, the Obong said, “The key is that there have to be a change of attitude. Everyone of you should have access to the governor, and he should listen. And even now that we have professor and professor in administration, we expected that we should have the best. That you open their door and people come in and give you an idea, if you don’t like what they tell you, throw it away, but have a face, there is a whole mixed up because the way he has treated even the politicians and the people around, that is the way he has treated the security people.
“If he had treated the security of the people very well, this couldn’t have happened. I called the Commissioner of Police, he said, oh, there is nothing we can do. We called the Army, they said, no, we have been asked not to do anything there. In that situation, that is a total breakdown of security. The Governor is the Chief Security officer. He should be holding security meeting regularly with these people. And this thing would not have happened if he had called the security people together after hearing what happened in Lagos and other places; call them together and tell them, look my friends, nothing should happen in my state.”
Earlier in his remarks, Imoke, who was governor of the state from May 2097 to May 2015, said he was on a mission to the monarch so that all concerned would jointly seek a lasting solution to the current crisis confronting the state.
“The events of Saturday, I had to call the Obong to understand what was going on. I appealed to him and he explained to me what was happening; that Tinapa was even under attack. A situation that is unprecedented in our history. Calabar is a peaceful place. He explained that things have gone out of control.
“We came to get some advice from you before we even set out looking for solution. To ensure that it never happens again in Cross River State. We are not here to play the blame game. To say this is the person who did this or that. We are here to look for sustainable solution.
“We need your guidance as we go about looking for solution to the challenges of young people who are unemployed and have grievances. Young people who think they don’t have the opportunities others have had.
“We do not understand the extent of the carnage. We are all victims of this incident. If you were not hit directly, you were hit indirectly. For me, I was hit directly, as very many public officials. They were also hit directly.
“Indirectly, we were all hit with all our public facility extensively damaged. For us it is critical that we don’t only address this, we will give support to the governor on how best to address all of these.
“The youths in the community are still good. Majority of them did not join the minority on the street. We must do things so that the majority will not join the minority in the street.
“This is the time for intervention, we need the traditional leaders to engage the youths,” Imoke said.
Lagos Relaxes Curfew Further
The Lagos State Government has announced a further relaxation of the curfew imposed on the state with immediate effect.
“The curfew will now be from 10 pm till 6 am,” a statement from the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso said yesterday.
The commissioner said people can now go about their business between 6am and 10pm.
The statement read, “The Lagos State Government has announced a further relaxation of the curfew imposed after the breakdown of law and order, following the hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protests. The curfew will now be from 10pm till