Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Ebute-Ero Police Station, CSP Shina Olulade, has revealed, in chilling details, how hoodlums, posing as #EndSARS protesters, invaded the burning station and attempted to kill him and his men. According to Olulade, if not for God’s grace, he and his men would have become minced meats.
The police chief relieved this nightmare during the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu’s visits to his station, during his assessment of damage done to different police stations in Lagos State Police Command.
“The hoodlums came in and then removed all the burglary proofs and then set the station ablaze. They came in a vehicle, ransacked our offices, and then looted all the air conditioners. Our police station was just not an office, but a home to most of us. We don’t go home because we want to be on ground during distress calls and so we sleep in the office. The hoodlums, who attacked us and our station, were not from this community. We believe they were hired.
Some officers, who tried to carry their patrol vehicles, were attacked and machete cuts inflicted on them. Right now, many of them are unable to walk and are receiving treatment in hospital,” Olulade said.
The DPO added that petrol bombs were used to attack the station and burnt the vehicles. He said: “There was no loss of lives, but three of our men are still receiving treatment.” Olulade is among the lucky policemen alive today to narrate the story of how hoodlums attacked, killed, maimed and burnt police stations while pretending to be among the #EndSARS protesters. The #EndSARS protests were against police brutality, extortion and torture, especially allegedly being perpetrated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had announced that 520 suspects were arrested for murdering six policemen, inflicting injuries on 38 others, and burning 30 police stations in the state.
Even though the mayhem has finally basked, many people, not just policemen, are still recounting the event that witnessed hoodlums under the guise of protests, held the entire state by the jugular.
A resident of Ikotun area of Lagos, who identified himself as Justus Emeka, said that he was on his way to work on October 22, 2020, when his customer called him on the phone and warned him to go back home. He said: “The caller specifically told me that because I had the appearance of a policeman, my life might not be spared. I must confess that policemen at Ikotun Police Station tried their best to protect their station and send the hoodlums away, but it was all to no avail.
The policemen shot repeatedly into the air, but the hoodlums were not deterred. And then the policemen ran out of bullets and the hoodlums went into a wild jubilation. They apparently saw it as an opportunity to carry out their mission.
“The burning of the police station has impacted the area negatively because a lot of people in the markets had their products vandalised and stolen.” Okechuku Atamanja, another man, who witnessed the burning of a police station, said he was at home when he received a distress call that his shop had been vandalised.
He added: “I was also told that all efforts by the police to stop the hoodlums proved abortive. Many people lost their businesses in this crisis and many would have to start from the scratch. Officials of the state government came around and took notes of the destruction, but we are yet to receive or hear anything from the government.”
Those who witnessed the burning and looting of Isokoko Police Station said that when the hoodlums arrived, the police shot and killed about two among them. When the hoodlums attempted to infiltrate the police station, the policemen began to shoot sporadically, hoping to scare them, but the tactics didn’t work. When the policemen finally ran out of bullets, they took to their heels. The hoodlums then invaded the station with a shout of jubilation.
One of the witnesses, Joy Johnson, related how the hoodlums attacked the station. She said: “They hurled stones and bottles at the policemen. The policemen shot repeatedly to scare them away, but it didn’t work. I noticed that the hoodlums were not from this community. We heard they were from Ogun State and we believed they were hired.
The hoodlums released detainees and looted the station’s armoury. The hoodlums were large in number and after burning the station; they turned to traders selling and began to cart away their goods.”
Johnson noted that since the incident, the community had become unsafe. She said that policemen, due to the burnt station, were no longer working. During his visit to Lagos on November 3, to commiserate with the people and government of Lagos State over the destruction in the state, the IG, Adamu, also visited the Makinde Police Division.
The Chairman of the Makinde Police Station, Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), Chief Femi Akeju, who said that he has been in this position for two years, added that he has never seen such damage to a police station in his life.
He said: “The hoodlums disgraced the DPO of Makinde Police Station and nearly burnt him alive. In spite of all his pleas, they refused to listen. Members of the community also tried to appeal to them, but they wouldn’t heed. In fact, they had come with weapons. Everybody made efforts to intervene, but unfortunately, because they were many, it was difficult. Indeed, 90 per cent of those that carried the attack were not from this community.”
Akeju appealed to the Federal Government to help rebuild the station. The Chairman of the local government, Mr. Bolaji Ariyo, said the police station was ready because of what was happening around the state, but unfortunately the population of the attackers were overwhelming. He commended the DPO and members of the police force because they tried their best to save the property of the government. Ariyo added that the intention of the hoodlums on that fateful day was to go after any police officer on sight by burning every station.
The Lagos State Police Commissioner, Odumosu, said he and his men worked tirelessly and had restored peace to the state. He added that they had keyed into the IG’s policing ideology, especially the community policing, which was activated and currently in practice. The commissioner revealed that it was due to community policing that residents assisted the police in recovering looted items, including some arms and ammunition.
Odumosu also commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for obliging to take care of the bills of police personnel who sustained injuries during the crises. The governor also promised compensation to the families of policemen who lost their lives during the crises. Their children are also going to be given full scholarships till graduation from university. He further told the IG that the governor had also promised to rebuild burnt police stations. Responding, Adamu commended the efforts of the policemen.
He said: “I congratulate you all for your resilience and restraint, which had turned the table against the protesters and everyone knows that you are professionals in handling the protesters which subsequently turned violent. There are about 14 states in the country that were affected with this incident of violence and I’m happy to know that not everybody agreed with the violent protesters. Also, the police are not all bad because it is known that in every organisation, institution, and country we have a few that are bad just as we have a few in the police that are bad. The majority of the Nigerian Police are good.
“Remember what Mr President said in support of the police, the vast majority of the men and women of Nigeria police are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and livelihood of Nigerians and will continue to support them to do their job.
So, the Nigerian police have support from the highest authority in this country and it is not that everybody dislikes the police. “There are those that are finding it difficult to come out and say openly but they always call to say we are behind you and you are doing a good job, please continue.
So, despite the fact that you have been attacked, some of us are in the hospital now; your stations, residencies, and personal belongings were destroyed. Still you became committed to your constitutional duties, you came out and continued to do your policing job in protecting lives and property, so thank you very much for that.
“As the protest and the violence were going on you did not sit back and you made sure a lot of people were arrested so far. As of three days ago, we have arrested 596 suspects all over the country as a result of this violence.”