At least eight persons including police officers are feared killed in Ojoo area of Ibadan, the Oyo capital on Tuesday when the #EndSARS protest turned violent.
The incident started in the early hours of Tuesday when a police officer allegedly shot one of the protesters in the leg, which led to a clash between policemen and irate youths.
Two police stations in Moniya, Ojoo area were burnt, while 10 vehicles were set ablaze when the mob swooped on the police stations.
An eyewitness said “the incident started when a police officer shot one of the protesters in the leg, and this made the youths to lynch the police officer and thereafter the station was burnt together with some of their cars. So, the Police in retaliation shot some of the protesters”.
Some of the residents of Ojoo lamented the excesses of the police officers in the area, saying the officers went beyond boundaries several times.
Confirming the incident, the spokesperson of the Oyo State Police command, Fadeyi Olugbenga, said “disgruntled elements/ miscreants attacked Ojoo Police station in the name of protest.”
He promised to make more details on the incident available later.
In a statewide broadcast at the state owned Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Governor Makinde said although no cases of disruptions of protest grounds was recorded in the state since it started, thugs and hoodlums have taken advantage of the situation to perpetrate uncivil acts and harass citizens who are going about their day-to-day activities.
The Governor however did not place any ban on protests in the state.
Rather, he assured that security operatives will continue to protect genuine protesters and their right to protest.
Makinde said “I address you at this time to talk about some of the issues that have been thrown up by the End SARS protests in Oyo State. I have always said that peaceful protests are an important part of our democratic process, and no one should be harassed or brutalised for protesting.
“For this reason, we deployed members of Operation Burst to protect protesters. And we are happy to report that there have been no cases of disruptions of protest grounds in Oyo State since they started work.
“However, the past two days have seen a new dimension to the ongoing protests. Thugs and hoodlums have taken advantage of the situation to perpetrate uncivil acts and harass citizens who are going about their day-to-day activities.
“Some thugs are going as far as forcing people who have businesses open to close shop and join in the protests. We know these are criminal elements. And so, as a state, we must act to protect the citizenry.
He added “Therefore, we are deploying members of Operation Burst to various hotspots in Ibadan to arrest the situation and restore normalcy. The members of the team will continue to protect genuine protesters and their right to protest. But we can not allow persons with ulterior motives to hijack the protests.
“We remain committed to the process of meeting the demands of these protests. Already, as promised, the Director of Public Prosecution, Ministry of Justice, Oyo State, has withdrawn cases against End SARS protesters, and those in custody have been released.
“Also, the Oyo State Government has set up platforms for reporting past and present incidents of police brutality and injustice. This will naturally pave the way for the next steps in our quest to get justice for the victims. I urge the good people of Oyo State to trust the process that we have set up and rest assured that every case will be pursued to a logical conclusion.
“I have directed that all schools in Ibadan, should be closed from tomorrow, Wednesday, October 21 2020 for the rest of this week. The situation will be reviewed on Friday, October 23 2020, and then further directives will be given.
“Please call 615 should anyone attempt to disrupt your legitimate business activities.
“We will continue to seek ways to engage with peaceful protesters. Our plan is that in the shortest possible time, we can finally say the days of large-scale and wanton police brutality and injustice is a thing of the past. Let me also use this opportunity to call on members of the Nigeria Police Force to remain professional in the discharge of their duties as they will be held responsible for their actions.”