By JOSHUA DADA, IGHO OYOYO, ANDREW OJIEZEL |
One person was killed in Osun State yesterday when hoodlums attacked the convoy of the state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola during the #ENDSARS protest in the state.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that trouble started when Governor Oyetola was forced by the protesters to address them, which he obliged, but soon after he spoke, the protest turned into a mob action at popular Ola-Iya junction, Osogbo in the process of which a resident was killed.
The protesters had converged at a junction at the early hours of yesterday but were attacked by thugs with cutlasses and sticks.
No sooner had the governor joined the protest, which began from Oke-Fia to the popular Olaiya junction in Osogbo, than it turned violent when some hoodlums attacked his convoy.
The thugs were said to have started the mob action as soon as the governor was rounding off his speech, welding dangerous weapons.
They attacked his convoy and damaged several government vehicles, even as the hoodlums also injured many of the protesters.
The governor was immediately ferried away from the scene, while those who sustained injuries were taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention.
The governor, while addressing the protesters before the attack, said that the youth had spoken loud and clear, adding that government would continue to protect their interest.
Oyetola, who apologised to the protesters for coming late to address them, said he had been away from the state and only came back shortly.
“I want to tender my unreserved apologies to the youths for my inability to address you before now. This is simply because I was out of the state,” he said.
The governor, who commended the protesting youths for displaying the ‘Omoluabi’ ethos for which the state was known by comporting themselves in a peaceful manner, said he was in support of the protest against police brutality and human rights abuse.
“The excesses of the SARS personnel are too much and they have to be checkmated. So I agree with you and we understand your plights”, Oyetola said.
He, however, dismissed the rumours making the rounds that he was the one who sent the hoodlums to attack the protesters, saying there was no way he could have done such.
Aisha Buhari, Catholic Bishops Urge FG To Act
Meanwhile, First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has called for action to “rescue” Nigerians from insecurity especially in the Northern part of the country.
This comes as nationwide protests over police brutality and insecurity continue to gain currency.
Mrs. Buhari, yesterday, shared a short clip from the newly released single “Arewa na kuka” meaning “the north weeps” by Kannywood star Adam Zango.
Along with the 22-second excerpt of the song, she posted a short commentary to add her voice to the message on her verified twitter page.
Using a hashtag, the president’s wife wrote in a Hausa “#Acecijama’a”, meaning ‘rescue the people’.
Part of the lyrics say: “In the name of God, pay attention, we seek your help. The North is weeping, our blood is being shed, our people are being killed, our property torched”
Similarly, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria yesterday called on the federal government to listen to the cry for justice from Nigerians for peace to reign in the country.
In a statement jointly signed by its president, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze; secretary, Most Rev Camillus Umoh; vice president, Most Rev Lucius Ugorji and assistant secretary, Most Rev Charles Hammawa, the Bishops said the protest seems to have a life of its own and spreading all over the country, which shows that most Nigerians are facing the same oppression and brutality inflicted by the SARS.
The Bishops also urged the federal government to secure the lives and property of every Nigerian and provide opportunities for Nigerian children to realise their God-given potentials.
According to the Bishops, it is remarkable and quite commendable that the protest is being led by the youths of Nigeria who are tired of suffering from the brutality and injustices perpetrated by officers of the SARS and the Nigeria Police Force as a whole.
The noted: “The youths are, therefore, simply calling for justice not just for themselves, but for the entire nation so that Nigeria can have peace. Whereas the Federal Government keeps asking for peace and calm in the face of every crisis, the present agitation shows that our youths have run out of patience and are tired of the lip-service paid by the government of the day towards a just and peaceful society.
“We unequivocally add our voice to those of our youths and that of every well-meaning Nigerian to condemn the excesses and the horrible operations of this police unit and the bad omen they portend to our democracy.
“The Government of Nigeria must realise that anyone who desires peace, must work for and cherish justice since there can be no true peace where injustice is the order of the day as it is in Nigeria today.
“We need to also remind ourselves that peace is not the absence of war because wherever there is injustice, war has already been declared on the people”.
The Bishops further described the EndSARS protest as a microcosm of the fundamental problems in Nigeria, saying the audacity and impunity with which the SARS officials have been operating all the while is a manifestation of the failing state of Nigeria.
The added: “Various bodies and patriotic Nigerians have expressed the opinion that just ending the SARS will not solve the enormous problems of Nigeria, because it is futile treating symptoms of a disease when the root cause is known.
“A centralized Police Force in Nigeria is primarily responsible for the lack of grassroots accountability for the crimes perpetrated by the SARS and their likes.
“We reiterate that restructuring this country is a desirable path to be towed given the various developments in this nation. The knee jerk reaction of the administration by abolishing the SARS and setting up the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team portrays either the absence of an understanding of the entire problem or a lack of sincerity to address the problem.
“The Nigerian Government must realise that what the youths, on behalf of Nigerians, clamour for under the code name #EndSARS is a total reform of the entire Police Force and not a change of name; they call for a reform of all our government institutions and a reform of the entire nation.
“They are asking for a system that will be hard on crimes and criminals in the society within the ambience of the law, while at the same time treating every human being, citizens and visitors alike, with respect and dignity.
‘Moreover, the #EndSARS protest is a cry for justice for all victims of the SARS and police brutality, and a call for the prosecution of all those responsible for these crimes against humanity and their superiors under whose leadership such heinous atrocities were committed against innocent Nigerians,” the Bishops said.
NUPENG Backs Protest, Denies Shutting Down Fuel Stations
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has expressed support for the protests against SARS across the country.
NUPENG’s president, Comrade Williams Niredonana Akporeha made this known to LEADERSHIP Sunday at the weekend.
On whether NUPENG was planning to join the #EndSARS protests by shutting down filling stations and withdrawing its tanker drivers from delivery of fuel as mark of solidarity to the protests, Akporeha said, “There is no shutting down of fuel stations or installations by NUPENG across the country because of #EndSARS protests.”
He continued: “NUPENG stands with Nigerian youths against police brutality and call for immediate and far reaching police reforms as our members are as well victims of police brutality and abuses through extortion, detention, harassment and intimidation nationwide.
“Meanwhile, no organ of our Union has ordered shutting down of fuel stations or oil installations.
“We sincerely empathise with all victims of police brutality including our members across the country and we peacefully join all well-meaning Nigerians to say police brutality must stop!”