Nigeria

EndSARS: Lagos residents share gruelling experiences in the hands of rioters

BEFORE Tuesday, the nationwide EndSARS protests had been largely peaceful in Lagos State. Many residents of the state not only supported the activities of the young protesters but also encouraged them to continue with the protest. Events of the past few days have however shown that hoodlums have infiltrated the protesters.

Lives have been lost in the state and varying degrees of injury have been recorded, with unquantifiable number of government and public facilities destroyed. The citizens of the state who sustained injuries in the orgy of violence that greeted the protests have all been lamenting their fate.

Findings by Saturday Tribune revealed that of the total number of casualties recorded in the attack at the Orile Police Station by yet-to-be identified hoodlums, two belonged to the Vigilante Group of Nigeria and were drafted to assist officers at the station in crime bustling and information gathering. The victims are 38-year-old Samuel Bassey and 36-year-old Temitope Omoniyi. While at his duty post at the Orile Police Station, Bassey was reportedly mobbed and killed, while Omoniyi sustained multiple machete cuts on his head and was rushed to an undisclosed hospital where he is still receiving treatment.

Narrating how it happened, Mrs Rena Bassey said her husband was attacked with machete before he was set on fire. She said: “I was within the Orile vicinity because I have my business there. When I heard about the attack on Orile Police Station, I called my husband’s number but it was not connecting. So, I decided to visit the station where I learnt that he had been killed and dumped somewhere. I started searching for him until I saw him around the station where he was set ablaze. Samuel was killed because they felt he was an informant to the police. They knew he wasn’t a police officer but they attacked him because of the assistance he was rendering to the police.”

Omoniyi, who is recuperating at the hospital with stitches and bandage on his head, explained how he was attacked. He said: “I did not see the attack coming. I was on the premises of the police station with Bassey who stood closer to the entrance. As the hoodlums made their way into the station, they held Bassey down and started hitting him with iron rods and other objects. As they attacked him, I jumped over the fence to escape being attacked but some of them were there waiting. They pounced on me. I heard one of them shouting ‘he is a police officer. Cut him on his head. If you cut him on his body, there won’t be penetration’. So, I was hit with a machete on my head multiple times. As this was going on, a woman ran to the scene and pleaded with them to free me. She convinced them that I was not a police officer. The woman then led me and a police officer into her shop where she locked us up until the soldiers came in the evening and brought us to this hospital.”

James, a resident of the Fagba area of Agege, who was caught in the exchange of fire between Hausa and Yoruba youths as a result of the protest, said: “I narrowly escaped death on Wednesday just because I allowed a Hausa man to take me from Abule Egba to Fagba. I didn’t know that the Agbado/Iju boys and the Hausa boys had started their clash. On getting to the railway line, I saw various dangerous objects, including broken bottles, planks, iron, stones and marbles flying in different directions. I told my bike man to stop but he didn’t understand me and by the time he eventually stopped, I had been hit in the head by one of the bottles.

“I was very lucky that it was not a broken bottle but with that, I had to rush to the hospital where I was treated and discharged later in the day. I felt that the world had ended when I was caught in-between the two groups.”

Four residents of Ejigbo, Kasali Kehinde, Hameed Moshood, Ozuoma Ikenna and Olasumbo Muheez, were, as of Thursday evening, being attended to by at a hospital in the Ejigbo area of the state. They had been hit by stray bullets during an exchange of gunfire between policemen and hoodlums at the Ejigbo Police Station. According to a resident of Anuoluwapo Street in Ejigbo who identified himself as Bankole, Muheez, 30, was standing in front of his parents’ house when he was hit by stray bullets from the clash between the youth and the police.

Bankole said: “The youths said that one of them was killed during a peaceful protest in the area and because of that, they wanted to set the Ejigbo Police Station on fire. It was while policemen were trying to stop them from burning the police station that we heard a loud cry from the boy and when we all rushed to him, we saw that he had been hit by stray bullets. At that time, there was an ongoing clash between the police in Ejigbo and some youths who were protesting against the killing of one of them.”

How we survived hoodlums’ attack –Irewole residents

Lagosians living around the Irewole/Salvation axis of Ikeja would not forget in a hurry the mayhem unleashed on them by hoodlums under the guise of the EndSARS protest. One of the residents of the area, Mr Aliu Mohammed, who spoke to Saturday Tribune, explained that the hoodlums who invaded the communities around 10.00 a.m. on Wednesday shot into the air as they attempted to forcibly gain entrance into houses. According to Mohammed, it took the intervention of policemen around Opebi Link Bridge to repel the hoodlums and flush them out of the area.

He said: “Every resident of the area is still in shock as a result of the incident. We were surprised to see the hoodlums under the guise of protest invade our community. While attempting to force open some gates, they shot into the air and caused residents to scamper to safety, some of them getting injured in the process. More worrisome is the fact that the hoodlums who came in through Irewole were able to gain entrance into the area despite the fact that all the access roads within Ikeja had been blocked. Even, we, residents, could not go out because of the blockage. We had to run to the policemen around Opebi Link Bridge and they were the ones that helped us chase the hoodlums away.”

He stated that although some residents were injured during the invasion, he believed that the timely intervention of the policemen prevented the hoodlums from taking advantage of the situation to unleash mayhem on the community.

riotersHoodlums took advantage of protest to vent frustration against effective policing in Orile –Vigilante group commander

Commenting on the incident, Commander, Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Coker-Aguda Local Council Development Area Division, Shehu Rasheed, said the attack on Orile Police Station was not carried out by peaceful EndSARS protesters but by criminal elements that found it difficult to operate in the district as a result of effective policing of the district by officers attached to the station.

He said: “Ajeromi Ifelodun LCDA is known for various forms of criminalities. People living in the community suffer frequent attacks from hoodlums who raped, robbed and dispossessed them of their valuables. To check the crime wave, we attached about five personnel to the station to assist police officers in carrying out routine patrol of flashpoints in the area to catch hoodlums and hand them over for prosecution. Having been affected by this, the hoodlums saw an opportunity in the EndSARS protest to attack officers at the station.

“On that particular day, two of our personnel were on the ground when the hoodlums struck. Some of the officers were fortunate to escape being lynched but Bassey couldn’t as he was held down and beaten with iron rods until he died. The other person, Omoniyi, sustained multiple machete cuts on his head but he escaped. He is currently receiving treatment at a hospital. Bassey was a resourceful officer who had zero tolerance for crime. He had helped through the provision of information to the police to fish out criminal elements in the Ajeromi-Ifelodun community. And this was why he was killed in the attack. The attackers were not the peaceful protesters. They are hoodlums who were determined to destroy the police station to enable them continue their nefarious activities.”

‘Judgement of God is coming to Nigeria’

Pastor Ogunmodede who resides at Bammeke in Shasha in Alimoso Local Government Area described the role played by the security agents who disrupted the EndSARS peaceful protest as wicked. According to him, with the shooting of unarmed youths in Lagos on Wednesday, God is not only annoyed with the leaders in the various places of authority in Nigeria but things can ever remain the same again.

The cleric said: “The blood of the innocent shed in Lagos is crying for justice. Failure of the Federal Government to bring the perpetrators to book will be the beginning of the end of this government. The way out includes exposing those who sent the soldiers to massacre the peaceful protesters and for the government to carry out the total overhaul of the entire system of governance in at the centre.”

For Mr Aladesanmi who resides at Egbeda Akowonj, with the massacre of the peaceful protesters on Wednesday, the cup of the present administration in the country is full.

We won’t allow present situation degenerate into anarchy –Police

The image maker of the state police command, Muyiwa Adejobi, said the police had been major losers in the ongoing protest with the death of two men and destruction of their facilities but the command would not be discouraged in ensuring the safety of lives and property of Lagos residents.

Adejobi, in a statement released to assess the effect of the attack: said: “The hoodlums who have been causing mayhem in Lagos State under the guise of the ongoing EndSARS protest have killed two policemen at Orile Police Station, wounded many at various stations and set ablaze 10 police formations across the state. The violent and criminally-minded hoodlums descended on police stations/facilities and gruesomely murdered two policemen on Tuesday, 20th October, 2020 and Wednesday, 21st October, 2020, while others were critically injured. They looted the affected stations and carted away some valuables.

“Some of the other affected police stations include Idimu, Igando, Layeni, Denton, Ilenbe Hausa, Ajah, Amukoko, Ilasa, Cele Outpost under Ijesha, disbanded SARS officer under Ajegunle, Ebute-Ero Mushin (Olosan) where two policemen were shot by the hoodlums, Ojo and Ajegunle where two patrol vans were set ablaze.

“At Ajegunle area, they burnt the secretariat of Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Council and some valuables, including cars and some other private medical and commercial centres, were attacked.

“The command wishes to reiterate that inasmuch as we respect people’s opinions and rights, it will not allow the present situation degenerate into anarchy and general insecurity where hoodlums will have a field day to kill, destroy and loot people’s property with impunity. The command will repel any group of individuals that might want to continue with these heinous and barbaric acts across the state.”

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