DAY 8: #EndSWAT Protests Spread To France, London, As Protesters Occupy Roads In Lagos, Abuja, Others
The #EndSWAT protests continue on Friday as protesters gathered in France and London to raise voices against police brutality and oppressive regime in
Nigeria Even social media was not spared of the situation in Nigeria as photographs and videos on the #EndSWAT protesters occupied Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
In France, Nigerian residents on Friday lent their voices to protest against brutality and human rights violations committed by operatives of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by joining the #EndSARS protests.
The protesters demonstrated peacefully in front of the Nigerian Embassy at the Victor Hugo area of Paris, to demand an end to police brutality and human rights abuses under the administration of President Buhari.
Calling for a total reformation of the Nigeria Police Force, the protesters also asked that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu immediately resign his position for overseeing a failed law enforcement agency. They also demanded the resignation of President Buhari over rising cases of killings, kidnappings and general insecurity in the country.
The situation in London was not different. Protesters decried the repressive system of the police and the Nigerian Government. They condemned the attack on peaceful protesters by “hired thugs” and urged the British Government to pressure President Buhari to meet the demands of the protesters. In Nigeria, youths continued their protest against police brutality and extortion at several locations in Lagos State, Abuja, Delta state and other city centres.
The first casualty of Friday protest was the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, NBC as its Twitter account was hacked by an ‘Anonymous’ in solidarity with the #EndSWATprotesters.
Anonymous, which claimed a legion membership, took over the Twitter account of NBC to greet Nigerians. “Good morning, great Nigerians. TGIF and it’s also a good day to #ENDSARS and #EndSWAT. We #Anonymous will continue supporting Nigerians,” the hackers said in a message posted to NBC’s handle.
The #EndSWAT protest resumed at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa, Ikorodu, Gbagada, Lekki and Magboro on Friday. At Gbagada, the protesters blocked the Gbagada-Oshodi expressway, causing gridlock as they chanted “End SARS, End SWAT”. They also shut down the Ikorodu Garage Roundabout. At the Magboro area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, protesters occupied the two ends of the road. There was gridlock as vehicular and human movement was disrupted. Even a military vehicle that tried to maneuver its way through the road was forced to retreat. The protesters displayed placards with different inscriptions to demonstrate their grievances against the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigeria Police Force.One of the protesters Segun said that they were occupying the road because there is a “nationwide protest for the soul of our country. #EndSARS, #Endpolicebrutality, end bad governance, and wickedness to the Nigerian youths. It is time for the youths to take over.” Muslim faithful among the protesters in Lagos held their Jummat prayers at the protest ground at Alausa and in Lekki. In the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, protesters continued their protests across the city, demanding justice for all victims of police brutality and killings. While they continue to press for their demands to be met, the protest took another twist as the Muslim youths observed their Jummat prayers on the road.
This comes 24 hours after the Federal Capital Territory Security Committee barred protesters from Abuja. According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye, on Thursday, the development became necessary due to the dangers posed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Delta State, protesters marched through the Ughelli main market, to Ekuigbo and the Ughelli Police Area Command office which also houses the Ughelli ‘A’ division police station. Unlike the violent October 8 protest, Friday’s protest was more coordinated with private security personnel monitoring the gathering to prevent it from being hijacked by hoodlums.
A spokesperson for the protesters, Stanley Orubu in his address at the Ughelli Police station, said: “they say we are the leaders of tomorrow, but how can the police be the ones killing the youths of tomorrow? How can we as unarmed civilians be scared of policemen instead of armed robbers?”
In his address to the protesters, the Ughelli North council chairman, Chief Godwin Adode while commending the protesters on the peaceful disposition, said “I know that we all need peace and that’s why we are here, but we will do everything possible within our powers to ensure that peace is maintained at all times. Personally speaking I am part of you and I have done everything within my power to ensure that peace is maintained within and around Ughelli North local government area council.”
Days after the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, set up a new unit called the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, to replace the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Unit (SARS), the protests only seem to be gaining more momentum as many Nigerians suspect the new unit may amount to a mere change of name.
As the protest continued on Friday with many rejecting the SWAT unit, the police have said no member of SARS will be in the unit.