Nigeria’s week of fury

It took another quick intervention of the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde to put out the inferno of riot staged on the popular Iwo Road, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital last Thursday.

The orgy was continuation of the ongoing restiveness pervading some states of the federation, following the EndSARS protest, which had been flagged off three weeks earlier.

But despite Governor Makinde’s caution and assurance, at a spot known as Testing Ground, the rampaging youths were hell bent in their resolve to make Nigeria ungovernable. No sooner had the governor left the scene than another smoke erupted along Idi-Ape-Basorun highway with the army of stern-looking youths forcing unsuspecting motorists to desert the road.

“What we are doing is our own way of making our statement that we don’t like all of those in government. They destroyed lives of our parents, and we are not going to allow them to destroy our lives too. This is our opportunity to tell them that we are angry. They won’t have peace in their offices. The matter is beyond Seyi Makinde (the governor). We shall continue to disrupt the towns to force Buhari and all politicians to rule us well,” one of the active participants told The Tabloid.net

Before the arrival of Governor Makinde at Iwo Road, it was gathered that two policemen had been set ablaze both of whom were roasted beyond recognition. The incident was a spillover from what obtained in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria where the Ikoyi Prison was also being razed simultaneously.

The killing of the policemen, it was learnt, was a reprisal against another incident which had occurred on Monday at Ojo axis, Ibadan where policemen were alleged to have killed about five youths during protest on the road. Consequent upon that incident, the youth have vowed that the matter is ‘no retreat, no surrender,’ promising the police and other security agencies a tough time ahead.

Orile Divisional Police Headquarters in Lagos was the first casualty of their rage when the station was torched, and two policemen on duty were killed. It was further learnt that the widespread violence was sparked by Tuesday killing of about 15 youths at Lekki Toll Gate, which had become the epicenter of the protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) alleged to have perpetrated series of brutality in its operations.

The protest gained legitimacy from the outset with some state governors like Governor Jide Sanwoolu of Lagos State, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, Governor Nyeson Wike of Rivers State publicly showing solidarity with the youths and urging them to exercise their freedom to protest with caution.

In Lagos and Ibadan in particular the protest was spiced with entertainment, featuring film and music celebrities performing for the mammoth crowd. Ace musicians such as Saidi Osupa, Yinka Ayefele, Obesere mounted the podium at Challenge venue of the protest in Ibadan where they sang their hearts out to the pleasure of the lively youths from dusk till dawn.

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However, things took a dangerous turn when on Saturday Governor Oyetola was attacked while he was addressing the protesters at Olaiya Junction venue of the protest in Osogbo, the Osun State capital. It was learnt that he escaped from the scene by whiskers after which he made a state broadcast the following day in which he connected his attack to some gang of political thugs.

The Tabloid. net would later gather that Governor Oyetola’s allegation was directed to the right angle, disclosing that his attackers comprised some youths with which politicians formed alliance to prosecute last elections in the state but later abandoned to their fate after the elections. Results of that incident saw hoodlums taking advantage of the situation to engage in extorting motorists among other nefarious activities on broad daylight, in a scene gravitating to anarchy in the state.

Governor Oyetola later announced a 24-hour curfew as a preventive measure also taken by Governor Sanwoolu who was also witnessing mass spread of violence in the state of aquatic splendor where street urchins smartly took over the hitherto carnival-like protest and declared a large scale war on public and private property in sight.

Aside some police stations set ablaze, places like BRT depot at Ketu, Nigerian Ports Authority, Lagos Island, the Television Continental, Ketu and The Nation newspapers office at Fatai Atere Way, Mushin were all torched.

The Palace of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Ridwan Akiolu was not spared as hoodlums invaded the royal house and vandalized it. Personal possessions of Oba Akiolu like cash and staff of office were alleged to have been carted away by the mob. In Benin-City, the Edo State capital, hoodlums reportedly invaded a correctional centre where they set all inmates free.

Warehouses where COVID-19 Palliatives were stored in Lagos, Osun and Kwara States were identified by the hoodlums and vandalized with no law enforcement agents in sight to challenge them. The campaign office of Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Akure, the Ondo State capital, was also set on fire.

Although President Muhammadu Buhari conceded to public outcry over his long mum on the boiling state of the nation and made a 15-minute state broadcast on Thursday, a section of Nigerians called him to task, describing his speech as dumb and clueless, especially for not showing empathy to the youths killed allegedly by soldiers at Lekki Toll Gate.

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The Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oyo State, Oba Francis Olusola Alao was combative in his remark and declared his disappointment in the president’s speech, which, according to him, should have addressed key issues raised by the youths who originally organized the protest, saying that Nigerians intelligence were being assaulted and calling for restructure of the country for meaningful movement from the current stagnation.

“The EndSARS incident is a reflection of corruption, nepotism, unemployment and social vices . It is unfortunate and sad that the president offered no apology over the use of military during the protest; he gave no answer to who gave order to the soldiers to come out against innocents peaceful protesters. Well, I pray to God almighty to intervene in our situation,” he said.

Something which is said to have inflamed the riot was indiscriminate spread of unsubstantiated news on social media. Popularly called fake news, the trend has become a tool deployed by different interests to ensure the unrest subsists apparently in pursuance of their respective goals.

One of the victims was the Osun State Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mrs Funke Egbemode to whom was credited a statement on the hoodlums’s raid of a warehouse in Ede. Egbemode had to promptly wash her hand off the said statement with clarification that she had not issued any in respect of the vandalisation of the store where items suspected to be COVID-19 palliatives were kept by the state government.

Egbemode wrote: “I have seen a fake statement purportedly issued by the Ministry of Information and Strategy. For one, there’s no Ministry of Information and Strategy in Osun. Two, no statement has emanated on the Ede incident from the State Government and most importantly, I do not speak or write English as used in the fake statement. I sincerely appreciate those who have called to show concern and support. God bless you.”

Having analysed the situation reports from all states, the coast appears clear for government to bring an end to the chaos with a view to restoring sanity to the country. Yesterday, October 23, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu received Honourable Members, House Committee on Police Affairs at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

Led by the Chairman, Honourable Usman Bello Kumo, the committee went to the IGP to assess and offer advice on the reforms of the Nigeria Police Force in relation to the EndSARS protests and its aftermaths.

In a release issued by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, a deputy commissioner of police, the IGP noted that the Force had commenced comprehensive​e Internal Review and Evaluation of circumstances that led to the protests and the violence, fatalities and damage to critical infrastructure that emanated therefrom.

He apprised the committee on efforts made so far by the Force to restore normalcy and prevent future occurrence. Some of the efforts, according to Mba, included: strengthening the internal disciplinary mechanism of the Force, training of the newly formed Tactical Squad, debriefing and psychological/medical examination for operatives of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad and general improvement of police-citizen relationship, etc.

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“The committee expressed satisfaction at the efforts by the IGP in managing the EndSARS protests and the ensuing violence but called for an all-inclusive approach at ensuring immediate end of the violence, improving police service delivery, rebuilding trust and public confidence and respect for human rights amongst others.

“The members commiserated with the IGP over the loss of police personnel who died during the crisis and promised to work tirelessly with the Force to ensure an enabling environment for optimal performance by the police. They called on other stakeholders including parents, guardians, online influencers, youth leaders, traditional leaders, religious leaders, etc to work with the police and government to bring a halt to the carnage on our streets and restore law and order,” he stated.

Similarly, the Ogun State Police Command in Abeokuta also rose yesterday with a release by the Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, a deputy superintendent of Police, warning against further anarchic tendencies masquerading as EndSARS protesters across the state.

Oyeyemi stated that responsible Endsars protesters were no longer on the streets in the state and disclosed that hoodlums, brigands’ and miscreants had taken over the space, targeting property including police stations for looting and destruction. They are also attacking police stations for arms.

He declared that the command would no longer “tolerate deliberate blocking of highways to impede free-flow of human and vehicular movements, molestation and extortion of the innocent members of the public, arson, destruction of public and private buildings, looting, and setting bonfires on the roads. This will be resisted decisively.”

The PPRO, however, expressed gratitude to human rights activists and journalists for disassociating themselves from act of lawlessness and brigandage, extolling them as true representative of a model in human rights activism that rejects and separates violent conduct from the noble process of law and order in agitating for enhanced well-being of the citizens.

“The command salutes your courage in continually speaking truth to anomalous situations of lawlessness by some citizens under the guise of exercising freedom of association and expression, even at the risk of your personal integrity. Your voice of reason should pervade the landscape now than ever before, to illustrate the fact that the person who deserves his right more is the person whose right will be affected or abrogated when the other person expresses his own right,” he said.

 

 

 

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