There is anxiety in the country as EndSARS promoters insist on holding memorial protest today to mark the first year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests despite warning by security agencies.
Flyers circulated on social media yesterday indicated that the organisers have perfected plans to hold the memorial protests in Lagos, Abuja, Abia, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Edo, Kwara, Enugu, Ondo, Plateau, Rivers and Oyo states.
Security agencies, including police, soldiers and others yesterday stormed the Lekki toll gate to prevent the anniversary but the promoters have vowed to go ahead.
Some promoters of the #EndSARS movement and celebrities, including Falz (Folarin Falana) – son of human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, and comedian, Debo Adebayo popularly known as Mr Macaroni, have opted for a memorial car procession.
They argued that the government scuttled their plan to hold an anniversary summit tagged: “SoroSoke” at the Landmark Events Centre, Lagos. It was alleged that the state government compelled the centre to deny them access. The summit is now expected to hold virtually.
The management of the centre refused to comment when Daily Trust called their telephone number. The security officers at the centre also denied our correspondent access to any of their representatives on Monday.
However, a car procession is scheduled for today at the Lekki Tollgate from 8am to 10am, and participants are encouraged to blast their horns and wave flags as they drive through the gate.
The organisers have also encouraged participants to stay in their vehicles all through the procession.
Security operatives have been stationed in strategic locations in the state, as the police have vowed to halt any protest.
However, some residents have said they would stay indoors or avoid the Lekki route over fear of a resurgence of the October 20, 2020 incident.
Warn your children against repeat of 2020 protest, police tell parents
The police in Oyo State have, however, advised parents to warn their children against repeat of 2020 EndSARS protest in the state, saying anyone caught protesting would be prosecuted.
The police spokesman, Adewale Osufeso, who stated this yesterday, said intelligence had revealed clandestine plans to embark on large scale violent protests in parts of the state in commemoration of the one year anniversary.
Osufeso, who spoke on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Ngozi Onadeko, said police would use any legitimate means necessary within the ambit of the law to enforce sanity and prevent loss of lives and wanton destruction of property.
He therefore urged the good people of the State to go about their lawful daily activities as comprehensive security measures have been emplaced to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Police stations still in ruins
The police stations that were affected in Lagos include Orile, Amukoko, Layeni, Ilasamaja, Ikotun, Ajah, Igando, Elemoro, Makinde, Onipanu, Ebute Ero, Pen-Cinema, Isokoko, Alade, Cele, Igbo Elerin, Shibiri, Gbagada, Onilekere, Makoko, Daleko, Asahun, Makinyo, Amuwo-Odofin and the anti-kidnapping unit at Surulere.
Other police stations that were vandalised but not burnt are Ojo, Mowo, PPL and Morogbo.
However, our correspondents learnt that one year after, the rebuilding and rehabilitation of the police stations have yet to commence.
This is coming almost a year after the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) pledged to fully rehabilitate all the 44 damaged and destroyed police stations nationwide in a bid to restore security in affected locations.
CACOVID, in a statement read by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, in November 2020 also vowed to make available over N100bn to procure equipment and gadgets for the police over the next two years to strengthen the security apparatus of the country.
However, findings by Daily Trust revealed that the coalition has not been able to redeem the pledge, which has hampered the operations of the police.
“It is true that they promised to build those stations, but we are yet to get it, and it is affecting our operations. Like everything in Nigeria, it is easier to pledge,” a top police source told Daily Trust.
When pressed on why the police authorities have not made this known to other Nigerians who may be willing to help, the police source said the force was handicapped.
“You don’t expect the police to call a press conference on this. What can we do? We are handicapped, we are like beggars. We are hoping they will fulfil the pledge soon,” he added.
A check on CACOVID’s website revealed that it has only realised 35 per cent of its projected N120bn, and that most of the money was spent on COVID-19-related matters.
A breakdown of expenditure available on the website indicates that over N22bn was spent on welfare; N8.5bn on case management; N3.4bn on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and N772.7m on branding and communication.
Other expenses are N2.5bn on laboratory; N904.7m on logistics and N119.3m on surveillance.
However, the Ojodu police station has been rebuilt by the Member representing Ikeja Federal Constituency of Lagos State, Abiodun Faleke.
Residents and community leaders in Lagos have expressed concern over the delay in rebuilding the stations which they said could worsen insecurity in the state.
Victims recount losses
A 19-year-old Kazeem Olanipekun and his family are still making effort to recover from the losses they incurred from the protest.
Kazeem whose father is a police inspector serving at Makinde Police Station was at home when the hoodlums came calling.
“We lost everything. I was at home with my mother and two sisters when the hoodlums in their numbers arrived,” Kazeem recalled.
Kazeem had to help his mother and sisters scale the fence, watching helplessly as the hoodlums looted their belongings before setting their apartment on fire.
A female police inspector attached to the police station who did not want her name mentioned said she lost “all I had laboured for as a policewoman.”
“Days after the burning of our property, the Commissioner of Police (CP) led the Minister of Police Affairs and that of Interior to inspect the destruction. Promises were made, but as we speak only minor repairs have been done to the building, while those of us who lost our lifetime savings have been left to our fate.”
Young software designer, Okechukwu Obi-Enadhuze, was stabbed on the neck while protecting his mother and siblings during the invasion of the Makinde Police Barracks.
Ngozi Maduabuchi who lives with her family in a flat a stone’s throw from the Orile Police Station was also not lucky. Ngozi said she and her family escaped when they learnt that their neighbours were being attacked and that upon their return the following day all that was left was an apartment razed down.
Lanre Tojani, a 200-level student of the University of Lagos (Unilag), said his father who worked as a security officer on Lagos Island sustained injuries on his way home at Orile when he was attacked because he was wearing black trousers.
Over 300 protesters still in detention
Findings have revealed that over 300 persons arrested in connection with the protest and the aftermath are still languishing at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre, Lagos, with most of them yet to be tried in court.
The co-convener of a civil society group, New Nigeria Network (NNN), Mr Adesina Ogunlana, who confirmed this, said it was disheartening to note how the system was mangling the lives and destinies of those captured by government over the #EndSARS disturbances of October, 2020.
Mr Ogunlana, who is a co-counsel to #EndSARS protesters at the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry, lamented that their bail applications were not granted, including those filed before a vacation judge, because the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Lagos State, acting on behalf of the attorney general of the state, opposed them.
Nicholas Mba, who said he was arrested a week after the protest, spent eight months at the Kirikiri with 300 others before he was released on bail.
Mba said he was charged with armed robbery, arson and rioting. However, his case was changed to illegal gathering on the last day he went to court after which he was released in June.
Joshua Omorodion alleged that his younger brother, Theophilus, was arrested by policemen on the day of the attack at Surulere.
He said his brother worked in a factory at Bode Thomas area of Surulere and that he was on his way to Mushin where they resided when he was arrested and that his family had done everything within their power to secure his release without success.
Lagos panel awards N410m compensation
The Lagos State #EndSARs Judicial Panel on Monday rounded off its sitting after giving out N410m as compensation to 75 victims of police brutality.
The Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, in her closing remarks, said a total of 252 petitions were filed, noting that 53 petitions were yet to be determined and were therefore adjourned indefinitely.
She said the 53 files would be sent to the Lagos State Ministry of Justice for further administrative measures and arrangement that the government deemed fit.
She explained that the panel would no longer sit, but added that members of the panel would still be working on the Lekki Tollgate incident and individual petitions.