#EndSARS: Hoodlums attack protesters, destroy cars, commercial buses in Lagos
•More Nigerians seek justice for victims of police brutality
As peaceful protesters converge at the Secretariat, CMD road/Magodo axis on Thursday in continuation of the expression of their grievances against police and SARS brutality, hoodlums launched a reprisal attack on the young protesters robbing them of there phones, cameras and smashing windscreens of cars and commercial buses.
The hoodlums numbering over a hundred, all dressed in black beret with guns, knives, iron rods and machetes, according to one of the protesters, Akin Ezekiel were from Agege area of Lagos state to steal from and dispersed the peaceful protest.
Ezekiel alleged that the hoodlums were sponsored by unknown persons that derived pleasure in the suffering of Nigerians.
For days unending, aggrieved Nigerian youths and undergraduates led by top movie and music stars took to the streets across cities in different parts of the country demanding an end to the aggressive and brutal activities of SARS operatives.
With the hashtag #EndSARS, these youthful Nigerians staged peaceful protests in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Onitsha and several other cities demanding for the dissolution of SARS, an end to police brutality, improved security, electoral reform, reduction in electricity bill, fifty per cent inclusion of youths in government amongst others.
Ezekiel explained further, “We were at the gate of the Secretariat this morning to continue with our peaceful protest. Suddenly, we saw a countless number of young persons all dressed in black beret. They unleashed mayhem on us and snatched our phones and cameras.
They dispersed us with weapons. They stationed themselves at strategic corners around Secretariat on the lookout for whoever might be recording or taking shoots of the daytime robbing and harassment. These people were sponsored because I found it difficult to explain why youths would be attacking and destroying property in the name of driving home a point.”
As police officers shot sporadically in the air, protesters and hoodlum scampered to safety.
Lamenting unprofessional conduct of officers of the law, a Lagos-based Lawyer, Chief Babajide Tanimowo has said officers and men of the Nigerian Police especially personnel of the SWAT squad should be subjected to a psychological evaluation to measure the level of mental alertness for the new task.
Tanimowo gave an account of how his client was assaulted and harassed by SARS officers. He said, “I give it to Nigerian youths for seeing to the dissolution of SARS. Nigerians can no longer be taken for granted. They cannot be oppressed in their own country. I could recall how some police officers and their civilian accomplice/informant called Wyclef assaulted and harassed my client before his eventual arrest in Ibadan, Oyo State in July 2020.
You will be amazed by the extent of the display of unprofessional conduct in a viral video on social media platforms where my client was wrongfully tagged as a kidnapper and an armed robber even though the young man was tracked and arrested in a fraud-related offence with one of his former employers.
Every suspect in a crime related case is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law but police officers prejudged a suspect before court sentence. The incident involved a young man, Ojo Olumide Stephen and a lady called Towobola in Ibadan on the 19th of July, 2020 where police officers were seen verbally and physically assaulting the young lady.
The video drew wide condemnation locally and across the globe. The police informant, who identified himself as Wyclef threw professionalism to the wind when he openly taunted and intimidated both Olumide and the young lady, calling them kidnappers and armed robbers without being convicted by a court of law.
The lady denied any amorous relationship between her and the suspect. But Wyclef accused her of being a prostitute and fornicating with the man for money. He intimidated and threatened to beat her.
If you have seen the video, you would recall these lines by Wyclef, “If I want to date you now, would you agree? You were sleeping with him because of money. Look up! Show your face to the world.” This is inhuman.
Many Nigerians condemned the action of the police informant. It was obvious he shot the video to shame and embarrass the accused man and his innocent female acquaintance. The Inspector-General of Police saw the video too and ordered an immediate investigation into the matter.
Subsequently, Wyclef was pronounced guilty. He was thereafter arrested and subsequently arraigned at the Yaba Magistrate’s Court in Lagos.
I commend the police boss for ordering a forensic investigation in the viral video which caused substantial damage to his client and his female acquaintance. This should be a lot of police officers who engage in such a dehumanising act.
No police officer has the right to harass, assault or declare anyone guilty of an offence. Every accused person is entitled to a fair hearing. This right should not be the subject of ridicule or abuse by our security agencies and people who assist police in the discharge of their lawful duties.”
Another protester, an undergraduate in one of Nigeria’s polytechnic, Ahmad Lawal said the Federal government has failed Nigerian youths, noting that the Lagos State government should beam its searchlight on the Lagos Task Force who he described as deadlier than SARS.
Lawal who lost his phone to the hoodlums called for the disbandment of Lagos Task Force team who he said terrorise, extort and threaten motorists and other Lagosians.
He said, “I left my home to join the peaceful but it was hijacked by hoodlums from Agege district. They came yesterday to attack us but we outnumbered them and in a reprisal attack, they came in large number to attack us and destroy cars and buses. I lost mine lost to them in the attack.
This is getting out of hand. Our police officers rather than protest us, they started shooting. What would happen if someone got hit with a stray bullet?
We are not safe anymore in Our own land. Just like the SARS and police, officials of the Lagos Task Force are laws unto themselves. They are more dangerous than SARS but little or no attention is paid to their nefarious activities.
They prey on Okada riders and transporters. They operate with impunity and arrest motorists without committing any offence. They do this only to extort them. They are lords of Lagos roads. As Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has shown solidarity with End SARS protesters, I am urging him to must exemplary leadership by dissolving the Taskforce team and save motorists from untimely death.”
Another resident, Jude Iginla tasked the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to ensure that officers fingered in the killing of innocent Nigerians were brought to justice.
He lauded the police boss for the assurance given to Nigerians that alleged cases of human rights violations would be investigated in partnership with Civil Society Organisations, noting that “The Inspector General of Police should also investigate other special units within the police, aside SARS. They wear weird and frightening looks and wear tattoos, earrings and dreadlocks. They have assumed the status of gods terrorising innocent citizens. They should be cautioned.
There is an urgent need for the Federal Government to put in place procedures for holistic and comprehensive reforms of security agencies in the country to re-orientate and redirect the minds of police officers and relieve them of their well-established colonial mindset.”