…As six protesters escape death in auto crash
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Amid heavy downpour, thousands of #ENDSARS protesting youths against police brutality, on Saturday took over major roads in Lagos with demand from Federal Government to immediately disband and halt operations of Federal and state Special Anti-Robbery Squad across the federation.
Recall that on Friday, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, appealed to #ENDSARS protesters in the state on the need to give peace a chance, patience and understanding in order to resolve their grievances.
Therefore, as part of the ongoing public demonstration by the aggrieved youths, Lagos was thrown into heavy gridlock, as many commuters were stranded around in several areas, such as Alausa, Maryland, Ojota, Ketu, Mile 12, Ikeja, Egbeda, Ikotun, Berger, among others.
The action, however, compounded the effect of the Third Mainland Bridge closure, which commenced on Saturday to allow for technical work to be carried out on the bridge.
Old Western Avenue, now Funsho Williams Avenue received heavy traffic as one of the alternative routes to Island. Motorists were stuck in traffic for several hours as a result of the closure and myriads of protest in the state.
Also, protesters barricaded the Alausa section of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and environ.
Checks by Vanguard revealed that the protesters moved from the entrance of the Lagos House of Assembly to block the highway on Friday.
The placards-carrying protesters barricaded the highway from the Secretariat bus-stop, opposite Magodo Phase II to Ojota, onward Third Mainland Bridge.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: Say No to Illegal Arrest of youths, # 1 Nigeria is Possible if all right is respected and protected. Stop Police harassment, brutality, now, among others.
The effect of the gridlock later extended to the Otedola Bridge along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Apart from Lagos, protests also taking place across the country, including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Kwara and Osun State.
While the SARS unit was suspended on Sunday, groups such as Amnesty International said the government had not gone far enough, pointing to previous unsuccessful attempts to ban the force.
The movement initially targeted the federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, widely accused of unlawful arrests, torture, and murder, but has since broadened to include all police forces.
The protest, however, took a new dimension in Ikotun area of Alomosho Local Government Area, when one of the vehicles in the convoy of the protesters was involved in a lone accident around the area, while on top speed with six occupants in the unmarked vehicle who narrowly survived with minor injuries.
The incident led to gridlock while the victims were rushed to an unknown medical facility for treatment.
Earlier, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu has appealed to #ENDSARS protesters in Lagos on the need for patience and understanding in order to arrive at logical conclusion of the grievances.
Sanwo-Olu, made the appeal in a statement, by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso on Friday.
The statement read in part: “The state government has noted the protests against the reported highhandedness of the men of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS). We know how painful it is to be victims of police brutality. It is not good.
“The message of the protests is clear – such acts of brutality must stop. We agree.”
Also, the State Police Command has set in motion professional mechanisms to maintain calmness, orderliness and ensure peaceful protests across the state.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, on Saturday, while monitoring the protests across the state, ordered all Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers and Heads of Department in the command, to be on their toes to ensure peaceful protests and provide adequate security for every peaceful protester in state.
“The command is mindful of the fact that every Nigerian is entitled to his fundamental human rights which will not be violated or trampled upon by a responsible institution like the Nigeria Police Force.”
Odumosu however, appealed to the protesters to continue to be peaceful, maintain orderliness and avoid such actions that can trigger crises in any way within the state; noting that such protest must not be hijacked by unscrupulous elements to harass, steal or rob innocent residents.
He also admonished protesters to have trust in the leadership of the police and its readiness to reform and overhaul the Special Anti Robbery Squad and other tactical units of the force to operate in conformity with the global policing standards and be more effective.
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