Tribune Reporter’s near-death story: How hoodlums nearly took my life while covering #EndSARS protest
It was a usual Tuesday morning as I got ready to hit the road, having in mind that I have to monitor the activities of the #EndSARS protesters around Abuja.
I first moved to Mbora to cover the virtual commissioning of five ICT projects by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.
When the programme ended, I now knew it was time to bring some reports about the #EndSARS protesters, so, I reached out to colleagues to know where the protesters were at that time, I was told they were at Federal Secretariat.
I was partly fulfilled that at least I could have something to report on as I planned to interview the protesters, take photographs and do some videos.
When I met the protesters at the Federal Secretariat in their hundreds, I quickly alighted from the vehicle, started videoing and interviewing the protesters.
Most of them said all they needed was for President Muhammadu Buhari to address and assured them that he had heard their cries, that he would act.
As the protest continued along the road leading to Banex junction, I realised that the protesters had hired some bodyguards like security, who ensured that nobody moves beyond the circle of the protest.
I also noticed that the bodyguards were carrying sticks and one had golf stick, all to serve as a weapon to protect themselves if attacked by hoodlums.
As the protesters were moving peacefully around River Plate Garden Wuse 2, we notice some persons running towards them from behind carrying machetes and other forms of dangerous weapons.
I was behind the protesters, also secured by the bodyguards, all of a sudden the bodyguards took to their heels towards the protesters, telling them (protesters) not to run but stay together and defend themselves.
At that point, the armed hoodlums were close to me. I am neither a protester nor a hoodlum. I am just a journalist doing my work. But the question is did they write journalist on my face?
When that thought was running in my mind, the hoodlums were very close, immediately I had to dash through the River Plate Garden gate, entered the garden and watched as youths machete themselves, some used sticks and stones to attack each other.
To my surprise, the hoodlums were led by a man possibly in his late 30s or early 40s who wore a black suit with a black brand new Toyota Prado with a concealed plate number.
As he came down from his vehicle, he was urging the hoodlums as they unleashed terror on the protesters.
When the hoodlums had succeeded in chasing the protesters away, I and other onlookers saw one of the protesters who was left behind bleeding seriously from a machete cut from his lower jaw down to his neck, that his jaw bone became visible.
He sat on the floor and was gasping for breath before one of the protesters who abandoned his vehicle while running away from the hoodlums returned, and drove him away.
The protesters, however, went further after the popular NITEL junction, regrouped and planned to go back for the revenge, while the hoodlums occupied a section of the road at NITEL junction which leads to Amigos supermarket.
The incident which I witnessed is very gory and as the protesters said, it is important President Muhammadu Buhari talks to his children (protesters) and assures them that he would address their grievances.
Many youths have lost their lives as a result of this protest, many properties have been destroyed, many innocent people have been hospitalised as a result of this protest.