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#EndSARS: Motorists groan as protesters block Lagos-Ibadan expressway

■Reject food, drinks sent by NURTW chief, MC Oluomo

The EndSARS protests continued with vigour in parts of the country on Friday, leading to at least two deaths in Benin, Edo state and several others injured. In Lagos, Abuja, Delta, Enugu, Ogun and Ekiti States, business activities were paralysed as the young protesters closed major roads leading to gridlock. The protest is in its second week across the country.

In Lagos, motorists groaned over gridlock on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway as a result of protest against the disbanded Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARs). The protesters who blocked the major highway that links Lagos to other parts of the country carried placards with different inscriptions as they blocked the expressway, causing gridlock on both sides of the ever busy road.

The gridlock, which started from Mowe axis of the expressway in Obafemi-Owode Local Government, Ogun, extended to Magboro end of Lagos axis. Passengers who could not bear the gridlock were, however, seen trekking.

Some of the motorists expressed their displeasure over the situation. Mr Muyiwa Akande, a commercial driver, said he had been in the gridlock for more than five hours as at the time of filing this report. Akande, who explained that he left Ibadan around 8 a.m for Lagos, said he was still in the gridlock as at 1p.m.

.Another driver, Mr Ismail Olayiwola, said he left Osogbo as early as 7 a.m with the hope of getting to Lagos before 11a.m but was surprised to meet the gridlock in Mowe. Olayiwola said he had spent more than six hours in the gridlock. He appealed to the youths to put a stop to the protest for the sake of the masses. Miss Charity Nwafor, said he had been in the gridlock for more than seven hours and could no longer bear the pain of sitting in the bus. Nwafor said that she left Ibadan around 6 a.m but was still in the gridlock as at 12 noon. She said that since she could no longer bear it, she had decided to trek from Ibafo to Berger to save time.

Residents of Ikorodu area of Lagos also on Friday felt the heat of EndSARS campaign as protesters blocked the Lagos Road at Ogolonto, making inward and outward movement into the area impossible. The protesters were seen carrying placards with different inscriptions as they continued their demonstration against the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigeria Police Force.

Protesters had camped at the entrance of the House of Assembly Complex and its environs, the Lekki Toll Gate plaza, Surulere and other locations. Due to gridlock caused by the activities of protesters, commuters were forced to trek from one end to another, while those who couldn’t trek returned to where they were coming from. Some protesters at Alausa, Ikeja attacked a van believed to have been sent by Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called MC Oluomo, to deliver food and drinks to protesters.

MC Oluomo, the chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Lagos chapter, was accused by protesters of sponsoring the attack on them by armed thugs on Thursday. MC Oluomo, the Lagos State government and the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, were accused of sending the armed thugs to attack protesters on Thursday. They have all denied the allegation. The transport union chief in a video he shared on social media said he supports the protest for police reform and could not have sent the thugs. Several protesters were injured at Alausa, Ikeja, on Thursday, after thugs armed with guns, machetes, knives and axes attacked them.

A day after the incident, MC Oluomo attempted to redeem his image in the eyes of the protesters. He sent food and drinks, branded with his name. Some of the protesters, unaware of who sent the packs collected and drank from the water and drinks before a protester raised an alarm about the food. “MC Oluomo sent them, he wants to poison us, don’t drink the water,” he shouted. Other protesters who also checked the name on the bottles stated throwing them at the white van that brought them. Angered by the gesture of the NURTW leader, the protesters threw bottles and other items at the van, as the driver sped off from the venue to avoid being mobbed.

After protesters rejected MC Oluomo’s gift, the #EndSARS protest continued in Alausa, and other parts of the state despite various concessions by the government. The protesters also converged at Iju Ishaga roundabout to register their displeasure at police brutality. At Gbagada, the #EndSARS protesters blocked the Gbagada-Oshodi expressway, causing gridlock. Some of the protesters were seen chanting “End SARS, End SWAT”.

The EndSARS protesters who are Muslims on Friday observed their Juma’at prayers at Lekki tollgate and Lagos State House of Assembly road, Alausa, Ikeja. At the Juma’at service held at Governor’s road in Alausa, some Christian protesters watched on while others provided cover for the praying Muslims. During the prayer session, other protest activities were suspended. One of the worshippers at Alausa, Ismail Adam, said the imam preached about love and unity.

According to the protest schedule released on Thursday, Christians are also expected to worship at their protest grounds on Sunday. The schedule showed that the Sunday Service of DayStar’s Pastor Sam Adeyemi would be streamed live at Lekki toll gate. In the same vein, the EndSARS protest resurfaced in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital on Friday, as protesters blocked the Okemosan-Kuto road. Despite Governor Dapo Abiodun’s appeal on Wednesday, asking them to allow government implement the police reforms, protesters came out in droves with placards to continue protesting.

As early as 8 am, the protesters converged on the NNPC junction, causing heavy gridlock as they chanted, “End SARS!” The youths said they will not stop the protest until government yields to their demands.

In Enugu, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, on Friday called for an end to police brutality as hundreds of youths continued the #EndSARS protests in the state. Ugwuanyi who addressed the youths when they marched to the Government House to register their feelings against the already dissolved Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) called for a minute silence in honour of victims of police brutality.

At the protest, which came three days after a massive protest rocked the city, hundreds of youths converged on Okpara Square as early as 7am before marching through major streets in the city, displaying placards and chanting solidarity songs. One of the protesters, Ifeyinwa Udeh said despite the commendable reforms which the Inspector General of Police and the government promised, the youths were tired of bad governance.

According to her, “What we are demanding for is good governance. I am an undergraduate but I don’t have any hope of being employed tomorrow. Nobody is comfortable with the state of things in this nation”. Another protester, Kingsley Igboke, said the government was yet to show sincerity in reforming the police. He said the formation of SWAT in place of SARS was a huge slap on the faces of the youths and victims of police brutality questioning the timing of the name change. Protesting youths who conducted themselves peacefully were seen packing refuse left behind as they marched.

 

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