Organisers and activists of the second wave of EndSARS on Monday, snubbed threats by the Buhari administration and security agencies by organising fresh protests in parts of the country including Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
Though the Nigeria Police is claiming that in Lagos, the commercial capital of the country, no EndSARS protest held at the Lekki tollgate on Monday after a viral video surfaced on social media, in the Orozo axis of Abuja, school children, traders and workers had to trek to their destinations as commercial motor cycle and tricycle operators withdrew their services as a result of the renewed EndSARS protest..
Orozo is however, a region of Abuja Federal Capital Territory that is located some 21 km South-East of the capital city.
In Jikwoyi, near Karu, okada operators cashed in on the situation to hike their fares. Since many of them were not on the street, the few that came out for business had to double the fare. It was quite a confusing day in this axis of Abuja with many citizens staying at home.
Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Police, Lagos State Command, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a statement said the content of the video was fake, false, and misleading, stating that the video was being circulated by mischief makers to create tension and destabilise the security network within the state.
The footage, according to the police was one of the viral videos previously released during the recent EndSARS protests before the Lekki tollgate plaza was set ablaze by hoodlums.
While urging the public to disregard the video in its entirety, he called for calm and asked residents to go about their lawful businesses, giving an assurance that the police were prepared to deal decisively, within the ambit of the law, with any act of lawlessness that could lead to the breakdown of law and order in Lagos.
Amid calls by supporters for new protests over the failure of the Buhari administration to fully address the issues raised, the police deployed personnel at the tollgate to prevent any form of protests.
President Muhammadu Buhari also warned that any act of hooliganism hiding behind lawful and peaceful protests would be dealt with decisively to ensure peace and stability in the country.
The toll gate is significant for being one of the major gathering points for young Nigerians during the EndSARS protests in October, which was later hijacked by hoodlums and resulted in massive destruction of lives and properties in some states, with Lagos being the worst-hit.
Before now, a front line leader of the EndSARS movement, Raphael Adebayo, had told Abuja to prepare for more protests by the coalition, because the demands of Nigerians had not been met, pointing out that the deployment of policemen and soldiers to prevent the protest from holding in Lagos would not discourage the campaigners.
“After massacring peaceful protesters in Lekki, General Buhari should know that deploying soldiers is the least of his worries. The issues that brought the youth out in the first place have not been addressed.
“The police have shown Nigerians that the state judicial panels are merely window-dressing the sufferings of the victims of police brutality. The government should prepare for more protests, because as far as the EndSARS protesters are concerned, there is no alternative to justice”, Adebayo said.
Aisha Yesufu, another leading EndSARS campaigner, lashed out at President Buhari for acting like a dictator, noting that he had failed to protect Nigerians and should be more concerned with that. She also knocked Buhari for not addressing the nation against the backdrop of the killing of over 78 rice farmers by insurgents in Borno State.
“The President is a man who watches his people being killed and he does nothing. Seventy-eight farmers were killed and Buhari could not address the nation. Sadly, the head of the terrorist group has addressed the nation and that should concern Nigerians”, Yesufu says.
However, armed policemen and soldiers were, on Monday, deployed in the Lekki toll plaza, Lagos, which served as the epicentre of the first round of protests. They were deployed around Sunday midnight.
The EndSARS protests, which took place in October, were hijacked by hoodlums leading to destruction of properties and loss of lives. Thousands of prisoners were also set free during the riots that followed.
Personnel of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation and the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps were also dispatched to the Ikeja under bridge area to forestall any form of protest.
Apparently not worried, many EndSARS campaigners took to the social media to lambast Buhari as security forces took over strategic spots in Lagos that had become synonymous with demonstrations, such as the Lekki toll plaza and the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota, at midnight.
Many motorists, who were on their way to work, observed the security agents positioned at strategic points in a bid to disperse any protest. The EndSARS campaigners, however, said they would still come out to protest.
“EndSARS11 protests has started. Are we happy? Yes! Are we coming with supports? Yes! Are we coming harder? Yes! Are we supporting online? Yes! All you need to do is retweet aggressively!,” tweeted Bassey Israel, one of the campaigners whose bank account has been frozen by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
@Adeoye Keshinro said there was a need to use drones to monitor the next protests, tweeting, “As we continue the protests, a drone will be required at all protest grounds. Please help retweet for people to see.”
@SmilingPen tweeted, “As far as what we are advocating is a livable country and not for APC or PDP, we will not stop! We are youths, we are not terrorists, we want and deserve a better Nigeria, we are not opposition parties; we are equal Nigerian citizens!”
In Osun State, youths reportedly staged a demonstration in Osogbo and demanded the disbandment of the panel set up by the state government to probe police brutality.
The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions such as: ‘Unfreeze accounts of #EndSARS protesters’, ‘who ordered police to go to court to disband the panel?’, ‘Who ordered Lekki mass killing? ‘, among others, marched through the Osogbo/Gbongan Road to the state House of Assembly complex.
Leader of the protesters, Emmanuel Adebisi, while addressing the Speaker of the Assembly, Timothy Owoeye, called for a probe of the statement credited to F. B. Osei, the counsel for the Commissioner of Police at the panel of enquiry’s sitting that a life was not worth more than N1.3m during the hearing of a petition on the killing of one Ismaila at a guest house in Iwo.