The #EndSARS protesters on Friday defied the Federal Capital Territory minister’s directive banning protests in the FCT as they shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road, Abuja.
The mammoth crowd massed at the city gate causing a serious traffic gridlock on the busy highway, which was said to have prevented some travelers from accessing the airport on time to board their flights.
The FCT Security Committee chaired by the FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, had stopped street rallies which he said violated the COVID-19 protocols. He also directed the security agencies to enforce the directive on the protests, which he said was affecting commercial and economic activities in the nation’s capital.
But the protesters ignored the directive, stating that the FCT Administration had no constitutional power to halt protests in the city.
The protesters were seen moving from the city gate towards the Central Business District where they continued the protest.
Motorists, commuters stranded in Ogun, FCT, others
Meanwhile, motorists and commuters in different parts of the country were stranded on Friday as the protesters blocked major roads.
At the Arepo-Magboro end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the protesters, in their hundreds, carried various placards as they blocked the movement of vehicles on both sides of the busy expressway. Many motorists were stranded for hours.
Some of the placards read, ‘Carrying iPhone, laptop, and wearing dreadlocks is not a crime,’ ‘iPhone no be gun (meaning iPhone is not a gun,’ ‘End police brutality, stop killing our youths,’ and ‘Stop killing our dreams.’
Apart from seeking an end to brutality by the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police, the demonstrators also demanded good governance from the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
Lamenting the gridlock, a commercial driver, Bashir Olola, said, “I have been stuck between Ibafo and Magboro for more than four hours. I have wasted the day already.”
Many other commuters lamented that they spent hours in traffic and that they might arrive at their destinations late.
Also, on the Abeokuta-Sagamu Road in Abeokuta, the protesters’ action brought vehicular movements to a standstill as motorists and commuters were trapped in the gridlock. Many motorists, commuters and workers were stuck in the traffic.
The protesters were armed with placards bearing different inscriptions like ‘Say No to Police Brutality’.
The protesting youths, who started gathering as early as 6am, took over some other parts of Abeokuta, the state capital, singing solidarity songs. Hip hop artist, Kizz Daniel and Yemi Shodimu, were among the celebrities that participated in the protest. Other locations affected by the protests were Sagamu, Sango-Ota and Ijebu-Ode.
The traffic situation compelled the Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps to release a traffic advisory to motorists and commuters.
In Delta State, hundreds of protesters again stormed the streets of Ughelli, in Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state on Friday, barely one week after a policeman and an unidentified civilian were killed in their earlier protest that turned violent in the metropolis.
The protesters, who returned to the streets in a larger number, declared that their renewed action was in solidarity with other protesters across the country. Private security personnel were seen monitoring the gathering to prevent hoodlums from hijacking it.
In Calabar, the Cross River State capital, the protest continued for the fifth day on Friday with youths carrying various placards condemning police brutality.
The protesters, who had placards with various inscriptions, marched through major streets of Calabar such as Marian Road and Mary Slessor Avenue. The protest disrupted traffic on the roads as motorists had to look for alternative routes.
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, protesters observed Jumaat service at the popular Olaiya Junction, Osogbo as the protest paralysed business activities across the state capital.
The protesters had blocked Olaiya Junction around 10am and prevented vehicular movement for several hours. Many commuters had to look for alternative routes to avoid the traffic jam. Gunshots were also heard among the protesters, as one of them holding a Dane gun shot into the air.
The leader of the protesters, Olawale Bakare, told Saturday PUNCH that all officers and men of the defunct SARS should be made to declare their assets, urging government to also investigate assets linked to them.
In Oyo State, activities were paralysed in parts of Ibadan, the state capital as the protesters continued with their clamour for better governance and end to police brutality.
The protesters, comprising youths, gathered at the Challenge Roundabout chanting anti-SARS songs. Vehicular movements were paralysed for several hours as parts of the roads were blocked. The protesting youths were seen with drinks and refreshments.
It was learnt that participants would be entertained on Saturday while special church services would be held at different rallying points on Sunday.
The PDP, led by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, who was on a condolence visit to Governor Seyi Makinde, described the agitation by the youths as a “right step in the right direction.”
The state Deputy Governor, Rauf Olaniyan, also called for a proper reform of the police.
In Enugu State, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra called on Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State to set up a fresh panel of inquiry on the Ezu River killings allegedly committed by personnel of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
The group said the victims were its members and that they were willing to testify and even expose other atrocious acts of SARS and the police in the South-East.
A statement by the group’s National Director of Information, Edeson Samuel, alleged that the murderous acts were carried out under the alleged supervision of ASP James Nwafor (retd.), a former aide of Governor Obiano.
In Kaduna State, organisers of the #EndInsecurityNow, the Coalition of Northern Group, has asked the #EndSARS protesters to relocate to the North.
The CNG said the #EndSARS protesters should join them in protesting against the unending killings, kidnapping and armed robbery in the region.
Addressing journalists, the CNG led by Yusuf Amoke, asked the Federal Government to also deploy the same energy used in the disbandment of SARS to end insecurity in the North.
In Sapele, Delta State, the protesters also called on the government to “give solace to Nigerians and uphold their rights to be free from police brutality”. The protest started from Okirighrwe as early as 8.30 am and was still on as at the time of filing this report at about 4.00 pm.