What was supposed to be a nationwide peaceful #EndSARS protest against police brutality in Edo State turned deadly on Friday afternoon as an unidentified young man was shot dead at downtown, Ring Road, Benin City.
About four other persons which included the protest leader, Comrade Idowu Maleke were also injured in the shoot out right in front of the House of Assembly complex by unknown gunmen who ambushed the peaceful protesters at the city centre.
Armed with placards with different inscriptions, the protesters who crammed in vehicles railed against police brutality as people scamper for safety following the echoes of gunshots which could be heard as far away as Ugbague street, off Mission Road.
Angered by the fatal shot, the angry demonstrators who were led by Maleke carried the corpse in an ambulance to Government House, Benin to register their grievances.
The circumstance surrounding the killing could not be immediately ascertained but a source explained that the killing may not be unconnected with the activities of rival thugs who specialize in extorting money from drivers Ring Road.
It was however gathered that the protesters who besieged the Edo State House of Assembly at the popular Ring Road to lend their voices to the requests being made by youths across the country, were dispersed by the gun-toting and knife-wielding thugs.
Following the threats by the thugs, some of the protesters retaliated while others took flight for their lives while those injured were rushed to the nearest hospital.
The popular Ring Road, Mission Road, Oba Market, Airport Road, Sapele Road, Akpakpava Street and Sakpoba Road were deserted as banks and traders hurriedly close shops for business.
One of the victims who gave his name as Abere Godswill said he was on his way from the bank when the thugs’ cutlasses wielding protesters alighted from the vehicle and descended on him as though he wanted to take a video shot of them.
He wailed: “I didn’t join the protest. I was coming from the bank when I met them on the road. Just because I held the phone in my hand, they started beating me, saying I wanted to video them. They collected the phone and started hitting different parts of my body.”
One of the protesters, Dennis Osaretin said they joined the protest to call for a total overhaul of the nation’s security architecture.
“I am here to show solidarity to the Nigerian youths on their recent call for the end of SARS and not just the end of SARS but for a total overhaul and reform of the Nigeria Police and the entire Nigeria security architecture and to a larger extent, a total reform and overhaul of the Nigerian states because of all we are looking for.
“We want a state that works for all, a state that works for the youth, provides employment, provides safety and security for our people beyond the lips service.”
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