The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, on Tuesday, declared his support for the nationwide protest over police brutality. In a statement posted through his social media handle, Kanu declared that “#EndSARS campaign is heading in the right direction.”
The exiled leader of the pro-Biafra group, however, warned that certain steps must be taken for the protest to yield desired results. According to him, the protest organisers must resist every attempt to buy them over and remain steadfast with the struggle; as well as sustain the tempo of the street protest.
In Enugu, placard-wielding youths grounded major parts of the state in protest. They marched through major streets of the coal city chanting: “End SARS now,” “Reform the Nigeria Police Force,” “Fine Boy no be Criminal,” among others.
The protesters took off from Michael Okpara Square, and headed to the state police command; where they were received by the Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmad Abdurrahman.
Award winning musician, Chinedu Izuchukwu Okoli, aka Flavour, and many other celebrities, including Nollywood actors, joined the protest, demanding an end to the operations and activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS. Among those in the protest were Chibuzor Nelson Azubuike, aka Phyno, another Igbo rapper, Zoro, and Nollywood actor, Ken Erics.
From the Enugu police command, the determined youths marched to the Enugu state government house gate. They later marched to the Enugu state House of Assembly, where they were received by the Speaker, Hon. Edward Ubosi.
Speaking on behalf of the youths, popular Nollywood Actor, Ken Erics, said the youths were demanding an end to brutality by men in uniform. He said it was not a crime for Nigerians to appear in good outfit; adding that all forms of molestation must stop.
Ubosi, while responding, said the House was totally against acts of brutality against citizens. He commended the youths for the peaceful manner they had conducted themselves during the protest.
While noting that the matter was subject of discussion during plenary, he said: “We are with you on this; we don’t want SARS any longer. We are looking forward to a totally reformed police that will be lawful in its handling of citizens.”
Enugu state police command had earlier urged residents not to hold EndSARS protests. In a statement issued through the police public relations officer, ASP Daniel E. Ndukwe, the command warned: “Any person or group of persons perfecting plans to cause breach of the peace under whatsoever guise, should desist forthwith.
“The commissioner notes that the warning is sequel to credible information gathered that miscreants are perfecting plans to hijack the proposed ‘End SARS’ protest and wreak havoc in the state. He reiterates that such acts aimed at scuttling the hitherto peace and tranquility enjoyed in the state will be vehemently resisted; while warning that anyone found wanting will be made to face the full weight of the law.”
Scores of protesters also marched through the streets of Aba, the commercial city of Abia state on Tuesday. Led by Roff Coin Nwaba, and other local musicians, the protesters took off from Azikiwe Road to East Street to Ogbor Hill area, through Ikot Ekpene Road and ended the protest at NTA, Aba, which is along Ikot Ekpene Road.
Similarly, hundreds of youths, Tuesday morning, defied the order of the Rivers state government to stage the protest against police brutality in Port Harcourt. A coalition of civil society organizations, under the auspices of RIVSCO, had last week, mobilised in preparation of the #EndSARS protest in Rivers state, with a planned March through some streets in the heart of capital, Port Harcourt, terminating at the government house.
This paper recalled that following the disbandment of the security outfit by the inspector general of police, on Monday, the Rivers state government announced that no protest was permitted in Port Harcourt. The government announcement, which was signed by the state commissioner for information and communications, Paulinus Nsirim, which argued that “There is no need for any form of protest against a unit of the police force that no longer exists.”
In defiance to the order, protesters came out in their numbers charging through the streets, demanding end to police brutality and oppression of the civilian population, especially the youths, by the police. Among the protesters were some Rivers based entertainment icons and social media enthusiasts, who also called for justice for citizens killed by policemen in the state.
The continuing protest had seen the demonstrators matching on the ever busy Aba Road to the gates of the Government House, Port Harcourt, where they were demanding audience with the governor, as they were also expected to match to the Moscow Road, Rivers Command Headquarters of the Nigerian Police, to drive home their demands.
Over 1000 protesters, including celebrities, took over major streets of Calabar, Cross River state capital, to protest all forms of police brutality, unprofessional conducts by some units of the police force on Tuesday.
The protest, which started at about 10:00 am, this paper learnt, caused gridlock in many major roads in the metropolis, including the Mary Slessor by Watt Market, Marian Road, IBB Way, Murtala Mohammed Highway, and others.
The protesters were brandishing placards of various inscriptions including: “Stop Police Brutality,” “Increase police salaries to end extortion,” “You messed with the wrong generation,” “Reform the police immediately,” “We are humans, not lab rats,” “End SARS, not disband SARS,” amongst others. They later headed to the governor’s office, and also the headquarters of the state police command, where they were addressed by the deputy commissioner of police, Operations, Samuel Musa.
Musa said that all was now under control following the directive of the IGP, while pleading with the protesters to proceed peacefully and avoid breaching public peace, as it would also be an infringement on the rights of other citizens.
The protest was joined by popular Calabar celebrities, artistes, comedians, actors, and activists, who also expressed dissatisfaction over the unprofessional conduct of some police officers.
Earlier, youths numbering about hundred, marched through the streets of Umuahia, the Abia state capital, in defiance to warnings against such protest issued last week by the authorities of the Abia state police command.
The youths, who carried different placards with several messages such as “#END SARS,” “We are hunted and brutalised,” “#End Police/SARS brutality,” among others, later took their march to the Abia state House of Assembly, where they demanded to speak with their representatives.
The youths were later addressed by the Speaker of the State House, Chinedum Orji, who was accompanied by other lawmakers. The youths, who took turns to speak, said they decided to join other Nigerians in a peaceful way to protest police brutality and harassment of innocent and legitimate Abians and Nigerians.
Recounting their ordeals in the hands of SARS operatives and other security agencies, they said they had become endangered species in the hands of people, who are being paid with their tax.
Orji appreciated the protesters for being peaceful and urged them to give the police authorities more time to conclusively resolve the issue.