Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) have demanded for investigation into the alleged attack of unarmed #End SARS protesters by hoodlums, killing at least one persons and leaving scores injured on Friday at the King Square in Benin.
The visibly angry Governor in a statement by his Media aide, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, requested security agencies in the State to swing into action and ensure that the perpetrators of the heinous crime, bear the brunt of their cruelty.
Governor Obaseki, urged the police authorities to provide adequate security for the #End SARS protesters.
The incident occurred barely 24 hours after some unarmed protesters were attacked in Lagos and Abuja, prompting the organisers of the protest in Lagos hired private security guards.
Already, Edo State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), has turned the blame against the political class better known as Edo Peoples Peoples Movement (EPM) which played it last wand at the Sept. 19 Governorship election in Edo State.
According to the Governor’s aide in the statement said: “I have just learnt that hoodlums have attacked #ENDSARS protesters, who have conducted themselves peacefully in Benin City. I extend condolences to the victims of the attacks, including those who lost their lives and others who were injured by the thugs,” Osagie quoted him to have said
“It is disheartening that anyone would attack a peaceful assembly of young people who are expressing genuine concerns over police brutality and intimidation in their own Country.
“I hereby call on the Edo State Police Command to get out on the streets and provide adequate security for the protesters and ensure that no one is harassed in the course of exercising their rights.”
Governor Obaseki said: “My dear vibrant Edo youth, as you go out today to express your concerns through the #EndSARS protests across the state, I urge you to comport yourselves, be safe and orderly.
“Your agitations with the #EndSARS protests are legitimate and deserve attention. We appreciate the effort by the Nigeria Police to accommodate most of these concerns. More consultation is ongoing to ensure that your yearnings are conclusively addressed.
“We urge men of the Edo State Command of the Nigeria Police to do well to respect the rights of youths to peaceful assembly and provide adequate security for peaceful protests.”
“Please, as you protest, as much as possible, arm yourselves with face masks and other health and safety kits, in observance of the COVID-19 prevention protocol,” he added
Our Correspondent reports that gunshots from the hoodlums who emerged from Ogbe quarters, Plymouth road axis of the King Square, forced commuters and pedestrians scampered for safety.
Traders at Oba market who abandon their wares, had their shops looted by the hoodlums during the incident.
Pandemonium broke out when the hoodlums opened fire on a crowd unarmed protesters, while others abandoned their banners, fliers and fled to different directions.
The hoodlums acting on the behest of the revenue collectors in Oredo Local Government Area of the State, were said to have resisted the peaceful protesters from blocking Airport road and other adjourning streets, leading to Kings square, resulted to a heated argument that later degenerated to a free for all.
Peeved by the development, some angry to regroup about 20 minutes later and continue their peaceful protest march after the hoodlums have disappeared.
Some youths who sustained gunshot injury in the melee, which was monitored via live streaming, were taken to hospital for medical attention.
Narrating his ordeal, One of the injured persons, Abere Godswill, during the attack, said the hoodlums descended on him thinking he wanted to video them while removing the cutlasses from their vehicle
“I didn’t joined the protest, I was coming from the bank when I met them on the road. Because I held phone in my hand, they started beating me saying I wanted to video them. They collected the phone and I had to run for my life,” he said
The youths however, later regrouped after the hoodlums had been chased away and continued the protest.
Also speaking, one of the protesters, Efosa Igbinoba, said they were at the Ring Road to protest police brutality and good governance in Nigeria, only to be attacked by hoodlums.
“We started the protest from Sapele Road, but on getting to the Ring Road, hoodlums just appeared from no where with cutlasses and guns to attack us and disrupt the protest.
“Our demands are, don’t end SARS and come with Swat. Police should be reformed as well as reduction of salary of the members of the House of Representative and the Senate,” he said.
Another protesters, Victoria Nkechi, (60), said she is on the street to support the youths in their protest for good governance.
“Years ago, I called for protest due to bad governance, but no body listen to me. Today, I am glad that they are protesting for good governance today,” she said
Condemning the incident, the PDP Mr. Chris Nehikhare in a statement on Friday, frowned at the alleged “hijack, harassment and molestation of youths who were participating in an otherwise peaceful protest in Benin City by thugs.
“We were bewildered to hear that the moribund EPM faction of the APC allegedly unleashed its thugs on Edo youths, intimidating, brutalizing and wounding many in the Kings Square area of Benin City as revenge for their rejection during the gubernatorial polls that took place on September 19, 2020.
“Their behaviour is even more vexatious especially when it is juxtaposed against the reason for the protest. Their ignorance is frightening and should be an embarrassment to their sponsors!
“We call on the police authorities to fish out the thugs responsible for this dastardly act and urge the Police to provide security for the protesters at all times. Anything short of this will amount to enabling these undesirable elements.
“For the record, we welcome the dissolution of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police and support the call for immediate steps to completely overhaul and restructure the entire police architecture to engender professionalism, adherence to rule of law and respect for the fundamental rights of Nigerians.
“We must also say we are very proud of the way Edo youths have comported themselves as they make these demands that will be of enormous benefit to all Nigerians now and in the future!”, the statement said.
Meanwhile, former member of House of Representatives, representing Ovia Federal Constituency, Lady Gabriella Omosede Igbinedion, on Friday endorsed #End SARS protest.
She also donated undisclosed sum of money to some of the protesters who converged on Ugbowo-Benin Lagos road by University of Benin (UNIBEN) pedestrian bridge on Friday morning.
The launch, divided Nigerians across bipartisan lines.
While some Nigerians commended her for providing succour, a few others, described her as a perfidious human being.
Nigerians have being on the street across the Country, expressing outrage and demanding an end to police brutality and calling for police reform.
The peaceful protest is yet to abate despite the ban on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit and other tactical squads of the Nigeria police Force by the Inspector-General of police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu.