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.
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.
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.
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.
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.