By Anayo Onukwugha, Port Harcourt
The #EndSARS protesters in Rivers State have vowed not to leave the Government House gate until Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, comes out to address them.
Security operatives stationed at the main entrances of the Government House had barricaded the area, thereby denying the protesters access to the facility.
However, the protesters, made up of mostly youths decided to sit in front of the facility, causing traffic gridlock on the entire stretch of Azikiwe Road, Port Harcourt, where one of the main entrances of the Government House is located.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP, Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) in the South-South zone, Karl Chinedu Uchegbu, said the protesters will not vacate the area except Wike addresses them.
Uchegbu said: “My brother, we are here and we are not going anywhere. We expect Governor Wike to come out and address us. If he chooses to wait till tomorrow before he address us, we will wait. But one thing is that the governor must address us.”
Residents of the state had ignored the order by state government banning the #EndSARS protest, as they trooped out in their numbers to march through the streets of the city.
The protesters went on with the campaign despite the presence of hundreds of fierce looking security operatives comprising of the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), that were stationed at strategic locations in the state capital.
These locations include the two main entrances into the Rivers State Government House, the Police headquarters, Moscow Road, Isaac Boro Park and Pleasure Park, which was to serve as takeoff point for the protesters.
LEADERSHIP observed that apparently due to the presence of the security operatives, the protesters started gathering opposite the Pleasure Park from 9:00am instead of the scheduled 7:00am and move from there towards the city centre.
The protesters, mostly young men, who carried placards that read; “#EndSARS”, “Justice For Sleek”, “End Police Brutality”, “We are tired of being Oppressed”, “Our lives matter” and many more, were chanting anti-Police songs as they march along the road.
LEADERSHIP also observed that security operatives blocked the entire stretch of Moscow Road, where the Police headquarters is located, in order to prevent the protesters from gaining access to the facility.
Recall that the state government, had in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said the protest was no longer meaningful following the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
The statement reads in part: “The Rivers State Government hereby wish to inform the general public that all forms of protests have been banned throughout the State. Therefore, all proposed protests under #End SARS Campaign are hereby prohibited.
“Government took this decision because the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had already scrapped the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
“Therefore, there is no need for any form of protest against a Unit of the Police Force that no longer exists.
“Parents and Guardians are therefore advised to ensure that their children or wards do not violate this order.
“Law enforcement agencies are also directed to ensure that the ban is enforced and that violators are brought to book.”