• You’re free, Buhari tells protesters, warns hooligans, hail military
• Security agents take over Lekki tollgate, other Lagos locations
• Osun protesters demand release of colleagues
• Police raise alarm over planned protest in Calabar
• Re-arraign Eromosele for breach of peace
• Ogun police occupy strategic locations
Activists, yesterday, moved to make good their threat to resume the EndSARS protest, triggering fresh concerns.
This came six weeks after a violent turn of events as the #EndSARS protests cascaded into an orgy of violence and destruction across the country.
Worried that there could be a repeat of the mayhem, President Muhammadu Buhari warned, yesterday, that while citizens were at liberty to freely express themselves in a democracy, such latitude did not include acts of hooliganism. He stated that anyone that would hide behind lawful and peaceful protests to commit crime would be dealt with decisively to ensure peace and stability in the country.
President’s warning came as police in Lagos, Cross River, and Ogun states took steps to prevent the protest, also for fear that hoodlums might hijack it.
Recall that in October, protests against police brutality and excesses of now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (tagged #EndSARS), were staged across major cities in the country. Following the alleged shooting by soldiers at the Lekki venue of the protest, some enraged citizens went berserk, leading to massive destruction of lives and property.
President Buhari warned against the second wave of the protest while declaring open the Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference 2020.
Stating his government’s commitment to the rights of citizens to peaceful protests in accordance with the laws of the land, the President lamented that hooligans hijacked the October #ENDSARS protests and caused wanton damage across the country.
Buhari, who spoke through a virtual arrangement, commended the Nigerian Armed Forces for their efforts at swiftly restoring law and order in various states during what he described as “the large-scale criminality” that ensued in the wake of the #ENDSARS protests.
BUT despite threats, protesters hit the streets of Osogbo, the Osun State capital, demanding the release of all detained protesters and the unfreezing of their accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The protesters gathered in the Ogo-Oluwa area of the town and marched to the Osun State House of Assembly.
The placards read: “We are not fighting for any political party,” “#End bad judiciary in Nigeria,” “#End fake judicial panel of inquiry in Osun,” “Unfreeze all the frozen accounts,” ”We are Nigerian youths,” among others.
In Lagos yesterday, soldiers were stationed at the Lekki tollgate, Opebi, Alausa, and Ikeja areas to forestall the planned protests.
Scores of police officers and soldiers were seen patrolling the Ikeja, Opebi, Ojota, and Lekki tollgate areas, the epicentres of the October protests, in a show of force to forestall mass gathering.
It was gathered that security agents were deployed in the respective locations at midnight based on intelligence the police received. On Sunday, the Lagos State Police Command had said it would resist any planned protest, procession or gathering in the state.
In a statement on Sunday, the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, had said the command would not allow any demonstration under any guise.
The Lagos Police Command, in a fresh statement yesterday, said, contrary to viral videos on social media, no #EndSARS protest was staged at the Lekki toll plaza on Monday. The Guardian correspondent who also monitored activities at the Lekki toll plaza at the time of filing this report also did not witness any protest or gathering as police officers manned the toll gate.
The police spokesperson said the police would deal decisively with persons with the intention of staging any fresh protest that could lead to the breakdown of law and order in the state.