The #EndSARS movement which started as a peaceful protest with a five-point demand which the government has met in implementation has now escalated into a series of violent demonstrations across the country. In other words, the protest against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad has now turned violent in spite of the government’s effort to meet the demands of the raging protesters. The various outburst of violence, attacks, and disruptions across major parts of the country, especially in Lagos, Benin, and Osun is a pointer to this sad turn of events.
In Lagos State for instance, operatives of Rapid Response Squad (RRS) Lagos State Police command in the early hours of Monday, October 19, 2020 were attacked by hoodlums. The RRS attack is said to have occurred at Herbert Macaulay way, Yaba area of Lagos state. According to a witness, the thugs attacked the RRS operatives on the assumption that they were deployed to stop the protests.
In the same vein, the Edo state government imposed a 24-hour curfew across the state following videos that went viral showing suspected hoodlums in the early hours of Monday, 19 October 2020 taking over the #EndSARS protests in Benin city. The videos also revealed the hoodlums invading the Benin Medium security prison on Sapele Road, releasing some inmates. Osagie, Secetary to the State Government, cited the cruel activities of the hoodlums as they exchanged fire with security operatives at the Maximum prison in Benin City. In his own words, he stated that ‘The hoodlums are currently exchanging fire with the security personnel at the Maximum security prison in Oko, Benin City.’
More so, the recent killings and near assassination of the Osun state governor can be seen as a peaceful protest turn violent. Adegboyega Oyetola,Governor of Osun State, was only addressing the protesters after he marched with them, when shots were fired at him. The governor was lucky to escape death at the hands of raging protesters as several of his aides were wounded. The officials were immediately taken into their vehicle for safety. Stones were also hurled at the official convoy as it zoomed off to safety.
Besides, Festus Keyamo, Minister of Labor and Employment lamented that one of his drivers died as a result of the #EndSARS protest in Abuja on Wednesday. He stated that his driver, Mr. Yohanna Shankuk was hit by a vehicle around the Berger area of Abuja. The minister who made this known in his Twitter handle wrote ‘I regret to announce that my driver, Mr. Yohanna Shankuk, died yesterday in Abuja as a result of the protests.’
‘A vehicle that saw advancing protesters at Berger roundabout, made a U-turn, took the one-way back, and ran over him as he was making his way on foot to my private office.
Asides this, the disruption and cause of traffic on major roads across the country is an indication of this sheer violence. For instance, a witness who spoke on the RRS attack commented: ‘I could not even access Eric Moore to go to my office. After spending an hour within Surulere axis. I further tried to go through Adekunle to third Mainland Bridge, but its same blockage…’. People have been forced to trek home consequently.
The recent killings and several displays of violence can therefore be seen as a protest that started out with good intentions but had turned out to be chaotic and dreadful. The protesters who have decided to take the law into their hands have brought about inconveniences and confusion to the sincerity of the original campaign against police brutality. It is, therefore, safe to say that the #EndSARS movement has been largely hijacked by hoodlums, arsonists, and all sorts of other people. This has led to major concerns amongst the populace coupled with the fact that free movement has been curtailed by this movement. The people are now thinking of staying at home for their safety.
Amidst the ongoing nationwide protests, Bashir Magashi, Minister of Defence, has come out to warn protesters against ‘breaching national security.’ He emphasized this as response to the several demonstrations of violence across the country regarding the #EndSARS protest.