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#ENDSARS ANNIVERSARY: Battering, arrests of protesters, journalists trail event

Yesterday was the day most security agencies and Nigerians had dreaded. A day that marked the one year anniversary of the shooting at the Lekki-Toll Gate, where some #End- SARS protesters were alleged to have been killed as the government decided to crackdown on the protest which had begun on October 8 in many states of the federation. According to the News Agency of Nigeria what triggered off the protest had happened four days earlier on October 4, 2020 to be precise when, a video had gone viral showing personnel of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) dragging two men from a hotel and shooting one of them outside.

A few days later, protests were staged in many states across Nigeria. As a consequence of these protests against police brutality, the Nigeria Police Force on October 11, 2020 announced the dissolution of the SARS unit with immediate effect in a move that was widely received as an accomplishment of the demonstrations. But on October 20 the hitherto peaceful protests ended in sorrow tears and blood when security forces allegedly opened fire on those massed at the Lekki Toll Plaza, which had become the symbol of the movement.

This attracted global outcry compelling affected state governments to constitute probe panels into right abuses allegedly perpetrated by the security operatives. However, once news spread of the crackdown all hell was let loose as hoodlums hijacked the process and attacked both private and public places looting and burning buildings, vehicles, buses and other things.

Yesterday was thus the anniversary of one of the darkest days in the numerous protests that have taken place across the country over the years. And although the movement was not as widespread as last year it did, however, still hold in the commercial centre, Lagos and the nation’s capital, Abuja where at the end of the day police and protesters were still squaring up against each other.

In Lagos scores of people were arrested at different parts of state as protesters trooped out to mark the first memorial anniversary of the #EndSARS killing at the Lekki Toll Plaza. Determined to ensure that the event was peaceful and not hijacked by miscreants, the Lagos State Police Command combined forces with the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC). Before the day was over, journalists, who were on their lawful duties, were harassed, manhandled, arrested and detained. Also arrested was a hoodlum with a matchete and other dangerous weapons.

However, led by a number of celebrities including Folarin Falana, better known by his stage name Falz, the first ever ‘vehicle protest’ in the country took place, with people driving their cars back and forth the toll plaza honking their horns in the process. And in the nation’s capital cores of End- SARS protesters took to the streets of Abuja to commemorate the first anniversary of the protest. The protesters converged on Unity Fountain, Abuja, before trooping through the streets and heading for the national assembly complex. Activists, Deji Adeyanju and Omoyele Sowore were seen leading the protesters who were carrying placards. More stories and pictures on page 5 and 27.

 

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