The scares of SARS: Protests in south-south, east target only SARS, add some jamboree

(With reports from Godfrey Ofurum, Aba; Sabi Elemba, Owerri; Mercy Enoch, Asaba; Aniefiok Udonquak, Uyo; Samuel Ese, Yenagoa; Regis Anukwuoji, Enugu; Idris Momoh/Churchil Okoro, Benin; Emma Ndukuba, Awka; Mike Abang, Calabar)

The #EndSARS protests rocking the nation especially Lagos and Abuja did little in south-south and south-east state, according to reports from Correspondents in the two geopolitical zone. The protests demanded only for end to SARS and police brutality and ended there. The protesters went back home. They rather enjoyed some jamboree with their music idols leading in the cheers.

Instead, merely coming out to walk was seen as great achievement while making it to the Government Houses in the states appeared to be the bigger objective. It is only in Calabar that the protests seem to continue to Friday. They did not come close to the seat of power either where the governor was said to be prepared to address them.

There has been no sign of sponsorship of unseen support to the protesters while there seemed to be little or no anger.

Also, in the two zones, the demand has stopped at the call to end SAR (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) while the order by the highest police authorities to pacify people from the two zones, apart from some social media rants hailing the protesters in Lagos and Abuja for persistence and for changing the demand to other slogans.

In most of the states, the march began at the advertised locations and ended at the government houses. The protesters dispersed after this.

The protesters in Lagos are seen with logistics support such as vans with food and water whereas hints have spread that there is N16million made available while some foreign hands have been mentioned in the sponsorship. No Correspondent in the states in the south-south or east has heard of any sponsor.

Port Harcourt: Did Wike play double game?

..As Chima, Ikokwu 5 re-echo

The host governor began as villain but ended as hero. Everything in Port Harcourt takes different turns. On the eve of the Port Harcourt march, the governor, Nyesom Wike, announced a stern ban on any protests in the city. He ordered stern-looking policemen to take over the advertised meeting point for the protesters.

The Civil Society Coalition in the state insisted and called on the people to come out and march, not minding whatever orders the governor issued. Tension rose immediately. The next morning, as early as 6am, the protesters began gathering at a location close to the advertised Pleasure Park.

The protesters numbering over 200 marched to the Brick House unchallenged and demanded that the governor must address them. The world waited to see how a governor that banned a rally would come and address it.

Wike soon emerged and later became the hero of the protest. He swam with swagger and told how he was the only governor that fought SARS (which is true) and how he never liked them (true, too, because they represented a threat to his re-election).

Many said they saw staunch Wike boys and wondered what really was happening; would Wike boys ignore his order? Many felt the governor banned the protest but must have worked underground to show support, but if anything bad happened, he would be exonerated.

However, demand for justice for Chima Ikwunado and the Ikokwu 5 re-echoed. The police (E-Crack) that killed Chima are now in court but indications look like nothing much would come out of it. Nothing is being done for the injured ones.

Enugu: Dance and gyration to seat of power

The protest in Enugu began at Okpara Avenue and marched to the police headquarters, House of Assembly and Government House. Popular musicians led the show and thus, the dancing and gyration was the most important success of the day.

They were addressed by the police and the speaker of the House but the governor did not show up.

The protest lasted for two days and ended without any incident.

Yenago: More concerned with flood threats

The people of Bayelsa State, according to our Correspondent, have their eyes on flood threats. The state lives below sea level and with less than 20 percent on land.

Some have wondered if they do not have scares of SARS over there but the floods may have given bigger threats. Our Correspondent however, reports that the state is playing catch up. The organisers of #EndSARS and #EndPoliceBrutality protests in Bayelsa State had planned a mega protest for yesterday (Saturday, October 17). The protests will be preceded by a candle light vigil Friday from 7.00pm till dawn at Tombia Roundabout, Yenagoa in honour of those who have lost their lives to police brutality. No violence has been recorded so far just as the organisers and sponsors are still shrouded in mystery.

Benin: We come in peace – placard

The Edo protesters even made it clear they came in peace. In Edo State hundreds of residents, particularly youths last Tuesday trooped out in Benin City to protest the alleged attacks and brutality on youths by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police.

The peaceful protest resulted to traffic congestion around the city centre, kept motorists on the spot for longer hours, hindered workers and commuters plying the roads to their respective destinations. The youths who came out in their numbers marched round King’s Square, Sapele road, Airport road and other major streets of the metropolis, including the palace of the Oba of Benin.

The protesters were received at the Oba’s palace by Ehondor D.A, the Obahiagbon of Benin, who promised to draw the attention of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, to their request.

Speaking with journalists in Benin City, Aisabor said changing the name from SARS to the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, is not the solution to the demands by the Nigerian youths in ending high cases of police brutality and extortion by the unit.

“There is no need for ending SARS and replacing it with Special Weapon and Tactic (SWAT), without training and retraining. It is just a change of name.

“Disbanding SARS is not the solution, what they need is training and retraining of the officers so that they can meet the purpose it was set up,” he said. These are the things the government has promised and started. That could be why the region dropped the protests because they feel they have succeeded.

Uyo: Hints of sponsorships and disputes over sharing of money

The Uyo protesters may have got some sponsorship to do theirs. Hints emerged that support came to help make placards. These are youths who are highly skilled in protest management perfected due to NDDC matters and protests over the years.

Hundreds of youths on Tuesday staged the #ENDSARS protest in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, in solidarity with their counterparts in other states of the federation. This may show that they were only helping other parts of the country.

The youths marched from Nwaniba Road through Oron road to Wellington Bassey Way towards the Governor’s office.

The youths had earlier said they were suspending the protest following the decision of the Inspector General of Police to dissolve the outfit but it was gathered that money changed hands leading to the protest.

It was gathered that the protest was bankrolled by politicians as disagreement occurred in the sharing of the proceeds from the protest. It also learnt that the protesters were supported by politicians who provided funding for the purchase of the placards.

Addressing the youths, Governor Udom Emmanuel lauded them for being peaceful and pledged to convey their message to the appropriate authority.

Asaba: Okowa addresses protesters, guests at Govt House

What is significant in Asaba is that it is the first time that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa personally addressed any protester. This was therefore, seen as a sign that the governor attached much importance to the issues relating to youths, security of lives and property of its citizens as well as the economy. The protest first began in Ugheli the previous day before getting to Asaba at 9am, lasted beyond 6pm despite the assurances of the governor that a 5-man Police Complaints Committee that would include two youth representatives as members, would be constituted to look into the issue of police brutality.

The Spokesman of the protesters, Emmanuel Udezua, had told the governor that the youths across the nation were in pains over brutality of policemen on them and urged him to use his good offices to prevail on all stakeholders to end the excesses of police personnel.

Okowa released one bullet at the familiar enemies. He blamed the protests on what he called leadership failures. There wouldn’t have been need for the protests if leaders were accountable to the people even as he told the protesters that as youths of the nation, they had every right to organise themselves to protest societal ills.

Spread to Warri, Effurun

Despite Governor Okowa’s assurances to the youth who protested in Asaba on Tuesday, October 13, those in Warri and Effurun axis took to the streets of the twin cities on Wednesday, October 14, to protest the formation of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.

The protesters took over Boji-Boji areas and their seemed to last longer.

Aba: Justice to Chima Ikwunado killed in PH by E-Crack

The demands for ending SARS and police brutality added justice for Chima Ikwunado, a mechanic tortured to death in January 2020 in Port Harcourt by a special squad called E-Crack. The Aba protests started by 10am and lasted till 2pm. It also took place in Umuahia with a total of 300 in both cities (Umuahia had about 100 youths, while Aba had more than 200 youths led by Ruff Coin and other local artists). Place of gathering- in Umuahia, the youths protested along major roads in the State capital including Azikiwe and Bende roads and ended their protest at the State House of Assembly, situated at Igurube layout. For Aba, they also moved round major streets, starting from Azikiwe Road, East Street to Ogbor Hill and ended the protest at NTA, Aba on Ikot Ekpene road. There was no violence or resistence to them. The protest was for one day, 2pm. In Umuahia, the protesters were addressed by Chinedum Orji, Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly who assured that President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, is handling the Special Anti-Robbery Squad issues in the overall interest of the citizens.

Owerri: Stuck to end of SARS

The Owerri protesters wanted only SARS to end. Recall that Owerri is a yahoo city and SARS and EFCC do battles there a lot. The gathering started about 9: 30 am on Tuesday October 13, 2020 with about 200 youths, a number that seems to be targeted in the south-south and east as enough. They gathered at Bank Road and ended at Government House. There was no challenge, no violence. Governor Hope Uzodimma assured them that their grievances would be taken to President Muhammadu Buhari. They dispersed after the protest.

Calabar: Protesters didn’t go to Government House

The protests started on Monday by 10 am with their five-point demands. Over 2000 youths participated in the rally with placard inscription #EndSARS, #EndPoliceBrutality, want good governance, want immediately actions, and justice for all brutalised citizens. Monday rally paralysed economic and social activities as the rally prevented smooth traffic at MCC and High Way. The rally was still going on Friday afternoon as at the time of filing this report as the EndSARS is moving from major street in Calabar and Marian Market to terminate at 11, 11 a major entry point of Calabar Carnival.

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ben Ayade, Christian Ita, told newsmen that the governor was ready to address them, but since they didn’t come to him he could not go to them and address them.

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