Less than two months after the suspension of the nationwide #EndSARS protests against police brutality, the organisers and activists have ignored threats by the government and security agencies by organising fresh protests in some parts of the country.
However, soldiers and policemen were deployed in some of the venues to disrupt the protests on Monday, especially in Lagos.
A leading member of the #EndSARS movement, Raphael Adebayo, told the government to prepare for more protests by the coalition, because the demands of Nigerians had not been met.
The activist said the deployment of policemen and soldiers to prevent the protest from holding in Lagos would not discourage the campaigners.
Adebayo stated, “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.”
Another #EndSARS campaigner, Aisha Yesufu, lampooned the President 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 stated.
The activist called for a medical evaluation of the President, stressing that he was not acting like a democratic leader.
She stated, “We need to check the mental capacity of President Muhammadu Buhari, because he is not acting like someone who is in full control of his mental faculties. We need to know if the doctrine of necessity needs to be activated and we get the President out, because he is not talking like somebody who knows he is in a democracy.
“He is probably retrogressive and thinks that this is 1984. The President needs to know that this is 2020 and Nigeria is under a democracy and that there is a constitution that allows citizens to protest.”
On whether the coalition planned to protest or not, Yesufu insisted that every Nigerian has the right to protest peacefully, arguing that the police had no authority to prevent peaceful protests.
She stated, “One of the things Nigerians must know is that whether the #EndSARS group or any group, they have the right to come out and protest peacefully and the Nigeria Police Force should know that its duty is to protect the protesters; it is not to stop anyone from protesting. The police should know that their allegiance is to the constitution and not to the government or the ruling party.”
Police, soldiers deployed in Lekki toll plaza
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.
We gathered that the security operatives were deployed around midnight.
Both the military and police authorities warned several times last week that they would not allow another round of protests in the state.
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.
As early as 8am on Monday, military personnel and policemen were at the tollgate in about 10 patrol vans, while around 2pm when one of our correspondents left the area, about seven policemen and four police vans were still at the tollgate with no protesters in view.
Similarly, 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.
Our correspondents observed that four police vans and two Black Maria trucks belonging to the task force were on the ground.
However, there was no protest at the Ikeja under bridge, but people were seen observing the activities of the security agencies.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said in a statement, “The attention of the Lagos State Police Command has been drawn to a viral video of a protest at the Lekki tollgate, Lagos State, purported to have been staged today (Monday), December 7, 2020.
“The command wishes to debunk the fake video that has been circulated to create tension and destabilise security network in the state. The video was one of the viral videos released during the recent violent #EndSARS protest before the Lekki tollgate plaza was set ablaze by violent protesters on October 21, 2020.
“The command, therefore, urges the general public to regard the video as baseless and mischievous. The command also wishes to appeal to the general public to remain calm and go about their lawful businesses as the police are prepared to deal decisively, within the ambit of the law, with any act of lawlessness that could lead to a breakdown of law and order in the state.”
Campaigners storm social media, vow to continue protests
However, many #EndSARS campaigners took to the social media to lambast the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as policemen and soldiers took over strategic spots in Lagos State 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.
“The second wave of #EndSARs 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!
@precious_oli described the fresh round of protests as a fight against oppression that must be won.
“This is probably the finale of this fight. If we put this fight aggressively, we would win against the oppression of this corrupt system and change the narrative forever. So why won’t you give it your all. They would try to suppress us but we would never stop saying #EndSarsNow,” @Precious_oli tweeted.
He added that the constitution allowed for peaceful protests and no one must be cowed. @ElaigwuG tweeted, “The government must #EndSarsNow. I want a better future for my children and the unborn generation so that they will look back and be proud of the decisions we took today.
“#EndSarsNow Nigeria is sick! How can the common man survive? The naira is becoming more useless by the day… sometimes I wonder who do us this thing. They will use ethnicity or religion to always close the youth mouth to do more evil and damage to the country.”
As of 7pm on Monday, the #EndSARSNow hashtag had garnered over 20,000 tweets.
Osun youths demand panel’s disbandment
In Osun State, youths 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.
The 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.
Police warn against second #EndSARS protest in Rivers
Meanwhile, the police in Rivers State, on Monday, threatened to clamp down on #EndSARS protesters if anyone hit the streets for another round of protests.
This was in response to some youths threatening to carry out a second wave of protests across the country from Monday, December 7, 2020.
The Rivers State Police Command said the state had yet to recover from the October 21 attacks on three police stations and a hospital as well as the killing of security personnel in the Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state when the #EndSARS protests turned violent.
The spokesman for the command, Nnamdi Omoni, who warned the organisers of the protest, added that operatives of the command had put everything in place to contain any fresh protest.
He said, “We are not favourably disposed to that protest and we have put everything in place to contain them (protesters) and to that extent, it should be shelved; this is not the time for such an activity.
“We have yet to recover from the damage of the last protest; so, we are not comfortable with that strike and therefore the organisers should have a second thought about it and reverse it.”
Army in show of force in Anambra
In Anambra, scores of soldiers moved round major areas of the state on Monday in a show of force over the fresh #EndSARS protest scare in the state.
Soldiers were seen parading major streets of Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi around 10am.
Efforts by one of our correspondents to speak with the soldiers were rebuffed.
One of them said, “This is not press work. We are here for a serious duty. We are not authorised to talk to the press, please.”
Meanwhile, some youths in the state, in a statement on Monday, warned against a repeat of the #EndSARS protests in the state and vowed to resist such an attempt.
Their statement read in part, “Our attention has been drawn to the intelligence/rumour that a second phase of #EndSARS protest shall commence on Monday, December 7, 2020, with so many threats of attack and violence on Anambra State.
“On this note, we call on all Anambra youths, home and abroad, to rise up and protect our dear state from these hoodlums.
“We hereby caution and warn all non-indigenes, who reside and/or visit Anambra State, to desist from any action and inaction that shall sabotage the peace, security and serenity that we enjoy in Anambra State.”
Any hooligan hiding behind peaceful protests’ll be dealt with – Buhari
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Monday, said his regime would deal decisively with “any act of hooliganism hiding behind peaceful protests.”
He said although his regime believed in the rights of citizens to embark on peaceful protests, such must be done responsibly.
Buhari stated these while virtually declaring open the Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2020 from the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
At a time there were reports of possible repeat of the recent #EndSARS protests, Buhari regretted the violence that trailed the last protests.
He said, “Let me also mention the #EndSARS protest, which was recently hijacked by hoodlums, which resulted in the loss of lives and property in many situations across the country. I want to reiterate our government’s commitment to the rights of citizens to embark on peaceful protests.
“However, this must be done responsibly in accordance with the laws of the land.
“I also want to state that any act of hooliganism hiding behind the peaceful protests will be highly dealt with decisively to ensure the peace and stability of our nation.
“On this note, I commend the Nigerian Army for their efforts to swiftly restore law and order in many states during the large scale criminality that ensued in the wake of the #EndSARS protests.”