By Adibe Emenyonu
Scores of youths on Wednesday gathered at the Oba Ovonramwen Aquare (Ring Road) to mark the one year anniversary of the EndSARS protest.
Security personnel drawn from the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and members of local vigilante were on ground to ensure peace, while members of the Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) controlled traffic throughout the peaceful rally.
It was a pitiable sight when two of the victims of the 2020 protests, a fashion designer, Miracle Ailenokhoriah, who is bedridden as a result of gunshot wounds sustained on his right thigh and Stephen Asekhame whose left leg was amputated as a result of gunshots from soldiers in Auchi recollected their ordeal.
Recollecting his ordeal, Asekhame, who is from Uhunmora, Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State, said: “During the protest last year on the 19th of October, 2020, we in Auchi decided to hold our own peaceful protest. On that day and during the protest, soldiers ran into us and I was hit by a bullet that led to the amputation of my left leg. I was a student then but now I am a graduate and I am supposed to go for service next Sunday.
“I presented my case before the panel through my lawyer but till now, we have not heard anything from the panel.”
Similarly, Ailenokhoriah, who was accompanied by his mother, said they were protesting at the Market Square in Ekpoma, Esan West Local Government Area, when a policemen he identified as Sergeant Ade, shot him and other policemen started beating him in spite of the gunshot injury.
“They (police) said if I die, I will be buried behind the police station. I was later sent to the hospital where I spent three months and now we resorted to traditional treatment but since then, I have not been able to stand up,” he said.
Corroborating his narration, his mother, Betty Odiagbe, said they also sent a petition and appeared before the panel but nothing has come out of it.
She lamented that she has spent all her resources trying to take care of her son and that has made it impossible for her to pay the school fees of her children.
Speaking, one of the organisers of the memorial rally, Kola Edokpayi, said: “I want the state government to implement the recommendations of the panel and the federal government should make 20th of October every year a public holiday to commemorate the EndSARS protest and give respect to the fallen heroes. These ones here who have been injured should be given automatic employment.”