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#EndSARS protests: 924 looters, arsonists arrested

Security agents have arrested 924 suspects for allegedly looting private and government properties in 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The suspects were apprehended in the last couple of days for the ongoing looting and destruction across several states of the federation as fallout of the protests seeking an end to harassment, illegal arrest/detention, extortion and extra-judicial killings by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the police.

The protests, tagged #EndSARS, were largely peaceful until they were hijacked by thugs. However, security agents have apprehended 307 of the suspects in Plateau State, 144 in Kwara State and 120 in Adamawa State. Also, 51 suspected looters were picked up in the FCT, 30 in Osun State, while 80 were apprehended in Cross River State.

In Kano State, 40 suspects were arrested; six, among them two minors, were apprehended for arson in Ekiti State, while more than 100 suspects are in police custody in Lagos. In Lagos, sources told New Telegraph that the police had arrested more than 100 people in connection with looting and burning of police stations, houses, and government infrastructure in the Centre of Excellence. Although the state PPRO, Muyiwa Adejobi, refused to speak on the number of arrests made, a top officer said “over 100 suspects” were already in police custody. In Rivers, 21 members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) have been arrested for engaging in violent protests that led to the destruction of lives and properties.

In Kaduna, the State Police Command has arrested no fewer than 25 suspects for allegedly looting private and public property. At the weekend, hoodlums looted government and private properties in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. The state Commissioner of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, told journalists in Ilorin yesterday that 144 suspects were arrested through the combined efforts of security agencies operating in the state. Egbetokun, who confirmed that two government warehouses and several private properties were attacked by the hoodlums, said the violence was well-coordinated and led by hardened criminals. He said a large quantity of looted property had also been recovered, including two vehicles used to cart away loot.

Egbetokun called on those who still had looted property in their possession to voluntarily surrender them. In Adamawa State, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Suleiman Yahya Nguroje, said the arrested 120 suspects took advantage of the #End- SARS protests to vandalise and loot public and private properties in different parts of the state.

He said: “Some items recovered from the hoodlums include looted tractors, farm implements, and other equipment. “Though we are yet to establish the casualty figure,investigation is still on. For now, over 120 suspects were arrested by the police and other security sister organisations for various criminal offences ranging from arson, stealing, malicious damage to property and assault before and after the statewide curfew imposed by Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri to restore law and order in Adamawa.” Nguroje explained that after investigation, the government would prosecute the suspects.

Some places attacked included the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Headquarters in Yola, Adamawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Red Cross Secretariat, Agric store and Mayo-Belwa Local Government Secretariat.

The state Secretary of the Red Cross Society, Shuaibu Dauda, told journalists that some hoodlums invaded the state branch office and carted away office materials and other valuables. He said: “Our computers and other office paraphernalia were all carted away.”

The police also said they arrested 51 suspected looters and recovered some stolen items at Jabi-Daki-biu, Idu industrial Estate Karim area of the FCT. The FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bala Ciroma,made the disclosure at a news conference yesterday in Abuja. Ciroma explained that the operation that led to the arrest was necessitated by the looting and destruction of public and private warehouses in the territory by some suspected hoodlums. Also yesterday, the Plateau State government said it had arrested 307 suspects over the recent destruction and looting of public and private properties in the state. The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Danladi Atu, disclosed this at a news conference at the Government House, Jos.

Atu said security agencies had commenced a massive hunt of looters, in a bid to get them prosecuted, warning that no perpetrator would be spared. The SSG cautioned the looters against using chemically treated food items, saying they were dangerous for their health as they were preserved to be only used as seedlings. “Some of the looted items are dangerous for human consumption, because they have been chemically treated and not good for consumption, especially the food items carted away, such as maize.

It was preserved for seedlings, but was carted away from the silos. Those who looted it should be careful about utilising it,” Atu said. Also, the Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Chrisantus Ahmadu, said that seven courts had been established for the trial of the offenders, and that they would commence operation today. Some of the looted and vandalised properties included the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) warehouse, Plateau Agricultural Development Programme (PADP) and Plateau Publishing Company.

Others were the residence of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. Police in Cross River said they had arrested more than 80 hoodlums over their alleged involvement in the vandalism of some government and private property on October 23 and 24 in Calabar. T he command also apprehended those who allegedly looted private offices and homes as well as those who reportedly invaded the office of the National Assembly members.

Various empowerment items, including tricycles and stage and sound equipment at the Calabar International Convention Centre (CICC), were said to have been carted away by the hoodlums during the attacks.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abdulkadir Jimoh, told journalists yesterday in Calabar that the police had recovered some of the looted items. Jimoh said: “I want to urge community leaders, youth groups and religious leaders to expose the looters and shame them.

“We have arrested more than 80 suspects and they are undergoing interrogations in our various security facilities. “Looters have 24 hours to return all the looted items before the house-to-house search gets to them, as recovery of looted items is ongoing.” The police chief added that the command had so far recovered four new tricycles, water heaters, bath tubs, air conditioners, speakers and executive chairs. He also listed other recovered items to include stage equipment at the CICC, sewing machines looted from a garment factory, fumigation equipment and cartons of pesticides.

Jimoh added that the police would not rest until all the perpetrators of arson and vandalism in Calabar were apprehended. In Kano State, the police said they had begun clampdown on the looters.

The police spokesman said at least 40 people had been arrested in connection with the Tuesday looting at the Sabon Gari area of the Fagge Local Government Area of Kano State. Security operatives have also apprehended 30 people in connection with the Saturday looting of shops and warehouses in Osun State. The Special Adviser to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola on Security, Mrs. Abiodun Ige, disclosed this to Government House correspondents.

Ige said properties worth millions of naira were also recovered from the suspects. The suspects were said to have burgled private and government offices and carted away valuables. Items recovered from the suspects included furniture, fans, television sets and food items.

While some of the suspected looters were arrested by residents, others were apprehended by the Joint Task Force (JTF). Also yesterday, police paraded two minors and four others for alleged in-volvement in the burning of three police stations in Ekiti State. Thugs had, last week, attacked two Divisional Police Stations and the Area Command office at Ikere- Ekiti during the #EndSARS protest.

Those paraded yesterday were identified as Odeyemi Sina (12), Ayomide Akomolafe (13), Alao Emmanuel, Ojuko Tobi, Sunday Salihu and Kosedake Olamilekan. Parading the suspects in Ado-Ekiti, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Sunday Abutu, said the minors were arrested at the scene of the incident. The Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, who briefed newsmen, said the IPOB suspects were arrested in Oyigbo and Port Harcourt Local government areas respectively, noting that three police officers (an Inspector and two Sergeants) were killed by the armed hoodlums while four suspects also died.

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