Police, soldiers lay siege in Ikeja, Lekki Toll Gate to forestall planned EndSARS protests

Police, soldiers lay siege in Ikeja, Lekki Toll Gate to forestall planned EndSARS protests
December 07 16:24 2020 Print This Article

…Protesters heed Police warnings, stay off protests’ venues, as Lagos Police debunk viral video

By Benjamin Omoike, Lagos

Amid fears that youths were gearing up for another round of #EndSARS protests in Lagos, police officers stormed the Lekki Toll Gate and Ikeja axis, the two epicentres of the initial protest to forestall the planned resumption of the movement. 

The Police, had earlier warned that the security agencies will not fold their arms as youths planned fresh protests against police brutality and extortion.

However, on Monday, several motorists informed that the security operatives were deployed around Lekki tollgate at midnight to ensure that they checkmate any untoward move by the EndSARS protesters.

Also, commuters and residents confirmed that scores of police officers and soldiers started patrolling the Ikeja, Opebi, and Airport Tollgate areas in a show of force, to wade off suspected protesters.

Recall that the #EndSARS protests, which took place in October, were hijacked by hoodlums, leading to destruction of private and public property and loss of lives.

The Lagos State Police Command had on Sunday in a statement by its spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi, threatened that “security agencies will not fold their arms” as youths plan fresh protests against police brutality and extortion.

The statement was issued after a poster, titled “#EndSARS reloaded phase II” went viral on social media.

It was stated in the poster that the “phase II” of the #EndSARS protest would begin on Monday, December 7, in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Delta, and Bayelsa.

The demands of the protesters are “Buhari, Buratai, Sanwo-Olu must resign and face ICC for killing innocent Nigerians at Lekki toll; free all #EndSARS protesters; unfreeze all bank accounts of #EndSARS protesters and referendum.

Meanwhile, following warnings by the State Police Command against violent gatherings across the state,  there appeared to be total compliance on Monday, as the protesters were conspicuously absent at the various proposed venues in the state, just as the Police have debunked a viral video about protest gatherings in the state.

As at 8am, fully armed policemen and soldiers had been deployed to some of the venues, especially  Lekki Toll Plaza, which was the centre of attraction and what has come to be where the grand finale of the EndSARS Protests took place last September.

However, the social media was awash on Monday with a video that some youths had stormed the streets of Lagos, to protest the immediate release of all detained protesters and asking for the defreezing of their bank accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

To buttress this, series of photographs and video clips were posted to various social media platforms to, according to the police, deceive many.

This alleged fake information further heightened tension and apprehension in some quarters, as many stayed away from major roads to avoid the unforseen.

Lagos State, in an attempt to forestall another round of #EndSARS protests, had deployed security operatives to the strategic places in the state.

Investigations revealed the presence of security operatives at some protests venues, such as Ikeja, Alimosho, Iyana-Ipaja and Lekki Toll Plaza, while protesters stayed off the venues.

The PPRO in a statement, debunked the viral videos on social media, as regards the protests, saying the Command was out to ensure compliance with law and order in the state. He said, “The attention of the Lagos State Police Command has been drawn to a viral video of a protest at Lekki Tollgate, Lagos State, purported to have been staged today 7th December, 2020. This is not true, as there are no protests in Lagos.”

In a related development, the Ogin State Police Command on Monday, threatened to disrupt any new protest in the state.

The Command said SARS is now history, therefore It will be mischievous for anybody to protest against a non-existent outfit or any issue, for that matter.

In a statement signed by their spokesperson, Abimbola Oyeyemi, on Monday, the police said anyone found on the streets participating in any form of protest would face the full wrath of the law.

“It has come to the knowledge of Ogun State Police Command that some misguided individuals are planning to stage a violent protest tagged “ENDSARS Phase 11” today, 7th of December 2020 in Ogun State

“While the command recognises that it is the right of citizens to employ protest to express their grievances over issues of governance, there is however nothing at present that calls for such protest in the Gateway State, except for those who see trouble making as a lucrative business.

“No reasonable person, after the massive destruction of properties and loss of lives, occasioned by the recent #EndSARS protest, would again be contemplating another violent protest so soon. It is the most callous thing to conceive and do.

“In Ogun State, we have since the end of #EndSARS protest been enjoying well-deserved peace. Socio-economic activities have resumed fully. Schools have also resumed, and the children in particular can be seen happily resuming and closing from schools.

“Only an enemy of the people therefore would wish to re-enact the #EndSARS mayhem,” part of it the statement read.

The police spokesperson also said the organisers of the planned second phase of the protest are ‘irrational’ since “SARS is now history! It is mischievous therefore for anybody to protest against a non-existent outfit or any issue.

“The Commissioner of Police therefore advises parents, guardians and the youth to be wary of those who derive pleasure in a state of confusion and violence.”

There were nationwide protests against police brutality in October but the rallies ended violently following security operatives’ attack on peaceful protesters.

Soldiers shot at protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on October 20, killing some citizens.

Judicial panels of inquiry are currently investigating previous cases of police brutality in many states.

On the other hand, the Federal Government is clamping down on promoters of the protests by seizing their international passports, freezing their bank accounts and arresting some individuals.

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