Alao Abiodun/Okodili Ndidi/Eric Ikhilae,Abuja/Toba Adedeji,Osogbo /Joel Duku,Ngamdu/Lucas Ajanaku
GOVERNOR Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and his deputy, Mr. Benedict Alabi, narrowly escaped death on Saturday after they were attacked by armed men during an #EndSARS protest in Osogbo, the state capital.
Protesters also blocked Fajuyi road, Ado Ekiti that leads to government house.
Mothers took to the streets of Lagos to demand an end to police brutality, while protesters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) blocked the Abuja-Kubwa highway.
Thugs later infiltrated the scene to unleash terror on the protesters.
Prayer walks also took place in parts of the country in another dimension to the protests.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State led top officials of the state to the Surulere, Lagos residence of Mr. Ikechukwu Iloamauzo, who was shot dead last week during the protest.
He pledged that the widow and family of the deceased would get justice in the matter.
The Osogbo rally had started well when the protesters gathered at Olaiya Junction only for suspected thugs to swoop on them with cutlasses and sticks.
The protesters later reconvened and asked the governor to address them.
He did at about 2.45pm, joining the protesters in the walk from Alekuwodo area to Olaiya junction, singing with them and promising them that their demands would be looked into. He assured them of his support, saying peaceful agitations were a part of the democratic process.
However, while still addressing the youths, the armed men and women unexpectedly started shooting and hurling stones at the governor’s car.
They also shot at the deputy governor, damaging his vehicles.
The Nation gathered that some of the state officials were wounded in the attack as vehicles in the convoy were damaged.
Pandemonium erupted with the thugs taking over the Ola-Iya junction where they made bonfires, and began to attack innocent people.
Some of the thugs who were armed with axes, broken bottles, and cutlasses mounted bikes and moved around town threatening the peace.
The Nation learnt that a resident was hit by a stray bullet at Oke-Ayiepe area when some suspected thugs invaded the area.
Information and Civic Orientation Commissioner, Funke Egbemode, who was also at the scene of the incident, said the attack was beyond the #EndSARS protest, but a premeditated attempt to take the governor out.
“It was an assassination attempt. This was certainly beyond the #EndSARS protest. The people who launched the attack were not protesters at all. They were hoodlums with evil intentions.
“Protests have been going on in the State for some days now, and there had been no attack on any government official since the beginning of the protest.
“However, today’s attack changed the narrative. It was not a spontaneous attempt. The attackers had it all planned. They had guns and other weapons. In fact, it was a woman who smashed the windscreen of the vehicle of the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji where I was.
“It is really sad that these people infiltrated the ranks of the peaceful protesters and took advantage of the Governor’s walk with the youths to execute their sinister intentions.
“It was simply a street coup to take out the governor, his deputy and the Secretary to the State Government, all of whom were exposed during the protest and had to be smuggled into vehicles when the attack was launched.”
Earlier yesterday the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state had alleged infiltration of the EndSARS protesters by those it called known political thugs who are sympathetic to the cause of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The APC Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy in the state, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, noted that two of the known thugs, who were said to have been ferried in from Ede, a neighbouring town to Osogbo, the state capital, were identified. They were seen brandishing long guns and even shooting sporadically into air during one of the protests on Friday.
The state government, through the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Prince Wole Oyebamiji, first expressed worry over the hijack of the protests by hoodlums and miscreants, who harassed and intimidated members of the public and held workers hostage at the State Secretariat, Abere, last Wednesday.
Oyatomi noted that, now that it has been clearly established that the protests in the State have been hijacked for ulterior and political motives, security agencies should as a matter of necessity and urgency take charge to avoid any break down of law and order.
He said:”A situation where known political thugs, who have sympathy for a political party join protesters to intimidate and harass members of the public while shooting sporadically into the air is dangerous and unacceptable. Therefore, security operatives should consider taking charge so that our beloved State can continue to guard jealously its enviable status of being the most peaceful State in the Nigeria.
Hoodlums chanting #EndSARS loot mall; post office, market razed
Not done with the attack on the governor’s entourage yesterday,some of the hoodlums shouting #EndSARS fanned into different parts of the state including the Osun State Mall at Fakunle Area, Osogbo.
They broke into the stores there and embarked on looting.
Some of the business outfits attacked and looted were The Chronicles, FemTECh, ArtDeco, Justrite, and African Dish.
The owner of The Chronicles, Ifeoluwa, told The Nation that the looters were armed with knives, cutlasses, axes and other weapons, chanting ” #EndSARS”.
ThePost Office building and a nearby market also went up in flames.
The cause of the inferno was not immediately known.
Spokesperson of the State Fire Service,Mrs.Basiri Adijat said hoodlums prevented fire fighters from confronting the inferno.
Police confirmed two deaths
The Osun State Police Command confirmed that two persons died after the attack on Governor Oyetola’s convoy on Saturday.
“The protesters, infiltrated by hoodlums armed with dangerous weapons such as stones, clubs, cutlasses, guns, etc, attacked the Governor, entourage and vehicular convoy. The police escort attached to the Governor rescued the Governor back to Government House at Oke-fia without harm,” spokesperson of the command, Mrs Yemisi Opalola said in a statement last night.
“Information at the disposal of the command indicates that two persons are reported to have died in the pandemonium.”
The Commissioner of Police urged members of the public to remain calm and law-abiding as efforts were ongoing to restore normalcy.
Protests ground Abuja for second day running
Business and social activities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, were grounded yesterday for the second day running by the #ENDSARS protests.
The protesters blocked major roads in Abuja causing massive gridlocks across the city.
Motorists and commuters were thrown into agony for several hours.
Most hit by the blockade were Banex, Wuse Market, Kubwa Expressway and Gudu Junction. Many of the protesters stayed all night on the Airport Road. They vowed to remain on the streets till today.
It was gathered that some pastors have also offered to visit them and to identify with their struggle.
The gridlock caused by the protesters caused a lot of persons to miss their flights from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, as well as other important engagements.
Also, residents who lived along the Airport Road axis of Abuja were stuck and could not get home.
Commercial motocyclists, popularly known as okada, took advantage of the gridlock to hike their fares. Trips that usually cost N100 now cost as much as N500, it was observed.
Motorists groan as thousands protest in Kaduna
Thousands of #EndSARS protesters in Kaduna also trooped to the streets yesterday, causing traffic gridlock in parts of the city for several hours.
One of the protesters, Ashidi Mamman said, “the government will do well by ensuring speedy recovery of SARS officers who have questions to answer, investigate them and bring them to justice in the public glare to show that the victims and survivors of police extrajudicial killings get justice.
“No one is leading us. We are just tired of bad governance which has led to serious insecurity all over the country with its peak here in the North. You are in your house, you could not sleep. You travel; you and your loved ones don’t have peace of mind until you return. For how long do we live like prisoners in our land?”
Police and other security agencies deployed their personnel round the city to prevent a breakdown of law and order during the activity.
Coalition of Civil Society Groups have asked the federal government to deploy the same energy used in the disbandment of SARS to end insecurity in the north.
Its spokesperson, Yusuf Amoke, said: “The reality in the protest to end SARS is obviously real. But those protests coming afterwards are calling for serious concerns. As a result, we have itemized some of our demands to the federal government and to the protesters as well.
“The government should use similar energy and responsiveness as used in ending SARS to end insecurity in the North; they should redeploy members of the defunct SARS to some volatile northern states to help contain the insecurity as requested by the governor of Borno State and other Northern leaders.”
Sanwo-Olu visits, pledges justice for family of driver killed during protest
As mothers in Lagos State took their turn in demanding an end to police brutality, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Saturday visited the widow of the driver killed by a stray bullet during last Monday’s protest by youths in Surulere for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protest ended bloody when the police attempted to disperse some of the protesters who were moving towards Anti-Cultism Police Command in the area. In the ensuing chaos, Mr. Okechukwu Iloamuazor, 55, was hit by a bullet and he died on the spot.
A policeman, Inspector Ayodeji Erinfolami, also died in the incident.
The governor was received by family members led by their head, Barrister Bede Enewally.
Sanwo-Olu commiserated with the widow, Ngozi, and the family over the incident, which he described as unfortunate. He said the late Iloamuazor should not have died under the circumstance, but assured the family members that the perpetrators would be brought to book.
Already, all the four policemen who opened fire on protesters in Surulere have been identified by the government and the police authorities. They are currently undergoing an orderly room trial at the Lagos State Police Command.
But, Sanwo-Olu said the state government would take the officers’ punishment beyond the established disciplinary guidelines of the police.
He said: “On behalf of the state government, and the people of Lagos, I commiserate with the family over this mindless brutality that led to the death of your son. We condemn endless killing of innocent citizens to the highest level.
“It is highly disheartening to learn that the victim, Mr. Iloamuazor, was performing his legitimate duty when the unfortunate incident happened. He hurt no one to have been subjected to such pain death.
”The officers involved are undergoing orderly room trial as we speak, but we will allow the police complete their investigation. We will certainly take the case out of the police and bring the full wrath of the law on the officers who perpetrated this irresponsible act. This will be a clear signal for other trigger-happy officers.
“Mr. Iloamuazor’s death is a sad loss not only for the family but for the entire citizenry that has clamoured for an end to police brutality. I assure you that his death won’t be in vain and the case will not be swept under the carpet. This is going to be the beginning of real change that people want to see in law enforcement.”
Sanwo-Olu reiterated that his administration remained on the side of those calling for change in policing methods. He said all those maimed or killed in Lagos in the course of the demonstration would be duly compensated, adding that the State Government would honour their sacrifices by pushing for reforms that would bring about a policing system that will uphold rights of the citizens.
The late Mr. Iloamuazor’s boss, Chief Sam Okafor, who witnessed how the driver got hit by a stray bullet, relived the incident.
Okafor cleared the air when he said the deceased was not partaking in the protest, pointing out they were both heading to Ilupeju when they ran into the protesters in Surulere.
“We were stuck in the traffic caused by the protesters who were shouting EndSARS. For more than 40 minutes, there was no movement. I wound down the windshield for fresh air, while Iloamuazor got down from the car to stretch his body. After stretching, he put his both hands into his pockets and tried to figure out where the traffic started.
He said: “Suddenly we heard a gunshot three times. The next thing I saw was Iloamuazor falling from his position. His hands remained in his pockets as he fell. I ran out of the car and screamed for help. People came and started performing all sorts of things to save him. The police came to the scene and I told them my driver had been shot on the spot.”
Okafor urged the governor to ensure justice was served in the matter, noting that he was yet to be relieved of the shock.
The protesting mothers in Lagos carried placards which bore inscriptions such as; ‘You can’t continue killing our children’—mothers join #EndSARS protest”; and “We cannot sit back and watch them kill our children.”
They marched from the National Stadium, Surulere, to Ojuelegba.