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END SARS Protest: Nigeria Sitting On A Keg Of Gun Powder

By Suleiman Umaru

President Muhammadu Buhari and his Security Agencies  Operatives  appear to have prepared   for the END SARS Protesters that any attempt to come close to the Presidential Villa, which is a security breach, as they  would be met with force.

The Army , which had launched Operation Crocodile Smile, to have kick- started on Monday, October 19,  had mounted  road block at Critical Areas of Abuja,the Federal Capital Territory, FCT,  which included   the Nasarawa /Nyanya  road  linking the north central  state and the Federal Capital Territory.

The soldiers  were said to have mounted  the checkpoints , blocking  Aya round about , the location  of the planned END SARS  protests at the FCT while Policemen   were stationed in front of  the Headquarters of the Central Bank of CBN, with Armoured Personnel Carriers, APC. and water cannons  to prevent the protesters from entering  the apex bank premises to cause havoc to the national Asset .

  Musa Sagir, a Major General and Army Spokesperson ,   had said  that the Operation Crocodile  Tears was not targeted  at the END SARS  protests. The Army Spokesperson said  that the Operation Crocodile Smile, which, many believe had turned out to be Operation Crocodile  Tears  for the protesting Youths,   is a yearly exercise  in the Army  Calendar /forecast of events  which traditionally  holds  from October to December 31.

Bashir Salihi Magashi, a  Major General, rtd, and minister of  Defense , had warned  the protesters against  breaching National Security  on Sunday, October 18, 2020. The minister may have been forced to speak out when  Danladi Pasali,   Coordinator , Buhari Campaign Organistion ,  and his team,  visited him at the  Ship House, built by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, as its original Corporate Headquarters but was forcefull taken over by the Army , which currently serves the  office of the minister of Defense.

Protesters Block Lagos State Government Secretariat, Alausa,Ikeja

The  minister may have sent a signal to the Protesters  that the Army would not hesitate to use force if they dare breach against the National security. The protesters may not have read the read the hand writing on the wall   that the security o Abuja peratives are out for them  as they Converged  on the Anya roundabout  in continuation of the protests which had entered its 12th day. 

As a prelude of informing the protesters  that it is no longer going to be  business as usual at the FCT, where virtually all the countries that have Diplomatic relationship with Nigeria have their Embassies and in  Lagos, the  nation’s Commercial nerve centre,  where some of the countries still maintain their Consular offices, that it is not good to give a wrong message to them that the country is no longer safe for them with the protests.

The Protesters  were said to have gathered at the Anya roundabout  in the early hours of Monday, October 19, 2020,  to start the protest, but were said to have been intercepted  by the trigger hungry security operatives  at the John Kenedy street as they attempted to  march  through  the back gate of  the Presidential Villa, described as a security breach.

 The  armed security operatives  stationed at Power House in in Asokoro, who may  not have  seen the protest around the Villa as a laughing matter  were said to have fired tear gas  in an attempt  to disperse the protesters. It was a gory scene as the protesters and Passengers scamper for safety.

Eye witness account said  Passengers  were forced  to trk long distance as Commercial vehicles  stayed off  the roads  for fear  of being  stuck in the traffic . The popular Anya roundabout , being the meeting ground of the protesters   was said to have been occupied  Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP’, men , to avoid giving room to the protesters to  regroup.

Hoodlums Take Advantage Of END SARS Protest To Invade Benin City Maximum Security Prison, Release Prisoners

The Monday protest in Abuja, may have been held simultaneously organised in Lagos, Ibadan Capital of Oyo state, Owerri, the Imo state Capital and Benin city, the Edo state capital. 

The END SARS . protesters were  said  to have crippled   commercial activities in  in Owerri, particular.  They were said  to have  blocked  the strategic  warehouse   Junction in the south east city.  The Owerri END SARS protests was said to have stranded  hundreds  of vehicles   while those who could not stand it were said to have  turned to a football field to park their vehicle and run for their dear life to avoid playing into the hands of the protesters or hoodlums, who had penetrated the END SARS Movement ranks to give them a bad name.

Notwithstanding the anger against the defunct SARS brutality , the protesters  in Owerri, also have their grudge against  the government , both at the state and Federal level ,  over the poor  state of the road  leading  to the Federal Polythenic , Nekede  and the Federal University of Technology , owerri.

The situation is more worrisome in Lagos as  the entrances  into the Lagos state government secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, was blocked, thus bringing Babajide  Sanwo – Olu, government to a halt for much of Monday.

The main gates of the government offices  including the government house were shut  by the protesters who were said to have gone  beyond the END SARS brutality  to demanding an end to bad governance in the country. The situation was very frustrating that  the Sanwo-Olu,had to plead with the protesters to leave the road and embrace dialogue for the resolutions of the agitations.

The Lagos state governor may have known that there s no end in sight to the protestS that he has directed all pupils and students  in public and privates schools  to stay at home until normalcy is restored.

He was said to have made it clear to all that cares to listen that with the tension that had  been created by the END SARS protests, there is no need  endangering the lives of the Pupils and the students till further notice. He is right. Hoodlums, who be sponsored by those opposed to the protests and who had  penetrated the ranks of the protesters had attacked Commercial vehicles , forcing policemen  found on the road to flee.

Nasir El-Rufai: Governor, Kaduna State, Sets Up Judicial Panel On Human Rights Violation In The State

The situation Lagos , was not different from what happened at the ancient city of Ibadan.  The protesters  had occupied various locations and blocked  the major access roads in the City. The major roads occupied by the protesters include   Apata, Challenge, Molete, Akobo,  and the government secretariat areas.

 They were said to have also  locked the road  from the  state secretariat  to Agodi, thus  preventing vehicular movement  to and from the secretariat.  The gate of the  secretariat was said  to have  been  shut  by the security men with the Commissioners  and the Civil servants  inside to prevent the protesters  from assessing it.  

In Benin city, the Edo state capital, the peaceful  END SARS  protest  may have turned violent with alleged infiltration of the ranks of the protesters by miscreants  armed with matchets  and broken bottles , They were said to have resorted  to vandalisation of property  and attacks on individuals  and Institutions.

 But for the tight security at the Oko maximum security prison, along the Sapele road  in the city, the hoodlums  who had marched to the prison premises could have released all  the prisoners but some still managed to escape. They were, however,  stopped by the security Operatives on duty who  were said to have engaged them in a gun dual until they  were forced to flee.   

 The situation was so bad  in the Niger Delta  geo-political region, city  that schools  and businesses were shut down, forcing Godwin Obaseki, the state governor to declare a 24-hour Curfew in the city until  sanity is returned.

It is interesting to note that barely  two months that the Katsina state born Nigerian President was in the West African country of Mali,  at the instance of the Authority of of Governments and Heads of States and Governments of the Economic Community of West African stat, ECOWAS,  to force the  Mali  military Junta  to reach an agreement  on who will  lead the volatile  country  in a transition back to democracy, little did he know   that the country would start its own problem with the Youth protest across the country, thus giving Critics the impression that the country is sitting on a keg of gun powder awaiting to explode.

The Nigerian President was said to have   asked the Mali military Junta  to focus on the country security which is under threat by the Islamic Fundamentalists.  The Nigeria situation, political Observers, believe that since he could proffer solution to the Mali crisis, he should use the same wisdom to solve the Nigerian problem.

The oil rich Nigeria , now bedeviled by debt burden, which was not only under the threat of Islamic Fundamentalists, Boko haram, in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno Yobe or under the threat of the bandits in the north west states of Katsina, the President home state, Zamfara, Kaduna and Soko states has t the END SARS protests , across the major cities in the country  championed by the END SARS Movement to contend with.

Given the direction of the Protests, the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, under the Chairmanship of Kayode Fayemi, the governor of  Ekiti state had joined the leadership of the Natinal Assembly and other well-meaning Nigerians to  pleaded  with the protesters to sheath their sword as it has been hijacked in most states of the Federation by hoodlums including the FCT and Lagos.

This is evident going by what had happened in Benin city , where, according Philip  Shaibu, the state Deputy governor, hoodlums  had  hijacked the protests. The attack on the state maximum  security prison  with the intention to release the prisoners speaks volume.

Fayemi: Governor, Ekiti State And Chairman, NGF

What may have occupied  the attention of the  governors for now  is the inauguration of Judicial panels on Human rights violations  in the states on the Police brutality on the orders of the Katsina state born Nigerian Prsident.

At present Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state, Fayemi, Ekiti,  Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna Dapo Abiodun, Ogun and  Obaseki, Edo, among others were said to have set  such Judicial Panels . 

The President  may have given the orders to the governors to set up the Judicial panels on Human Rights violations in their respective states to reduce the pressure on the Presidency.

He may have taken the bold initiative to gladden the heart of the Nigerian Youths to force them to sheath their sword and give room for Negotiation.   But this may not be  what the Nigerian Youths would want  from the Nigeria Commander –In –chief of the Armed Forces.

They would want him to apologise to Nigerians that he has failed  the  country for peace to reign.  This may be a hard decision for Buhari, a retired Army General to take to apologise  to Nigerians when he knew he had  not done anything wrong  to warrant such an apology.

Stephen Ubanna

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