..as govt. condemns hoodlums inflitration of protest
By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
There is tension in Akwa Ibom State as security agencies particularly the Nigeria Army intensify their patrols in the major Streets of Uyo, the state capital to avert more violence by hoodlums.
Saturday Vanguard observed that there has been relative calm in the state since the Army and Mobile Police officers commenced Street patrols Thursday night.
They also barricaded some flashpoint areas within the State capital especially the Ikot Ekpene Road, Barracks Road, Aka Road and Abak Roads.
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Hoodlums on Thursday evening hijacked the #EndSARS protest to destroy both private and public properties within the state capital.
Among the properties torched during the mayhem were the LG showroom and “De Choice” shopping mall both located along Ikot Ekpene Road, Anchor Insurance Building along Barracks Road Uyo, and administrative building of Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) along Udoudoma including three vehicles parked in front of the premises.
The hoodlums also vandalizee Zenith Bank, First bank and Access bank Automated Teller Mechines (ATM) points along Aka road.
They almost set the banks as well as the Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) along Ikot Ekpene Road ablaze but failed due to quick intervention of the Army personnels that arrived the scenes.
Many Boutique’s, electronics shops and even eateries were also looted by the hoodlums.
Reportedly about three victims died during the Thursday widespread violence in the state capital, as hurl stones as well as engage in gun duel with security personnel.
An eyewitness, Mrs. Lizzy said she spotted some of the protesters rushing two of their members who sustained injuries during the violence being to the University of Uyo Teaching hospital (UUTH) for treatment.
The development had prompted the state government to immediately impose a 15 hours curfew in the state beginning from 9pm of that Thursday.
However the state government decided to extend the curfew to 7am Saturday, October, 24, 2020 after assessing the level of mayhem caused by the hoodlums early hours of Friday.
Condemning the hijack of the #EndSARS agitation in the state by criminal elements, Speaker of the State House of Assembly Mr. Aniekan Basssey ympathize with families of innocent ones who lost their lives as a result of the protest as well as those whose investments were looted and torched.
Bassey said time has come for the nation to sit together, dialogue and agree on sweeping constitutional reforms that would allow for true federalism and a workable governance structure that would guarantee peaceful co-existence, development and prosperity for all.
His words, “I condemn in strong terms the act of intimidating our people, destroying and burning of public and private properties in parts of Uyo, looting of business premises and other acts of criminality perpetrated by hoodlums in the guise of #EndSARS protest.
“These were not part of the demands of the #EndSARS protest and will only worsen our woes.No nation thrives in acrimony and an atmosphere of chaos. The destruction of lives, public and private property, will only threaten Nigeria’s unity and progress, rather, a call for institutional reforms that will strengthen governance should be pursued through dialogue and non-violent means.
“I urge the youth to think in this regard. Akwa Ibom state is all we have and can call our own. I call on those engaged in attacking and destroying public and private property, looting of business premises to have a rethink. Akwa Ibom people are not known for violence and cannot be involved in destroying our state.
“Let me commend His Excellency, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, for his prompt action and steps taken so far to safeguard lives and property. I also commend His Excellency for inaugurating a judicial panel of investigation to look into all cases of Police brutality and make recommendations.
“These are steps in the right direction to meet the demands of the #EndSARS Protest. The House will work closely with the state government and relevant stakeholders to ensure that peace prevails in Akwa Ibom. We need to make hay while sun shines”.
Similarly, the state government owed to bring to book, hoodlums who hijacked the #ENDSARS protest and perpetrated violence in the state.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong who spoke during on -the -spot assessment of destroyed private and public properties in state noted that such act of violence was alien to Akwa Ibom people.
“We are saddened by this experience. It is clearly alien to Akwa Ibom people. our position is clear, we cant surrender our state to evil plunder. we must ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book. we condemn this act in totality and trust that God will stand up for Akwa Ibom”, Ememobong asserted.
On its part, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council, condemned the attack on the Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation, AKBC, administrative building and other facilities within the metropolis by the hoodlums masquerading as #ENDSARS protesters.
In a statement signed by its Comrade Amos Etuk and Comrade Dominic Akpan, State Chairman and State Secretary respectively, the union appealed to security agencies to be on top of the situation to avert further violence in the state.
“These attacks are uncalled for and meaningless. Certainly, this is not the way to go. It is a classic case of blaming the doctor for the disease of the victim.
“We urge security agencies to be on top of the situation to prevent further wanton destruction of lives and property and also ensure that perpetrators of these dastardly acts are brought to book in accordance with the laws of our State.
“The Union further commends His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel for the swift response to the ugly development by imposing a curfew in the State to control the situation. We stand with our members in the AKBC family at this moment” the statement said.