The #EndSARS protest continued in different parts of the country on Thursday, with protesters repelling attacks from thugs and security agents.
The attacks forced protesters in Lagos to hire bouncers to increase security at the protest grounds.
In Lagos, tragedy struck when two people were crushed to death during the protest in the Alagbado area of the state.
It’s gathered that a motorist, Nike Lawal, was driving recklessly when she rammed into a tricycle and killed two people at the AIT Junction, Alagbado.
The victims were identified as Ojo Azeez, 27; and Yusuf Sodia, 26.
While the demonstration was on in the Ikeja area around 8 am, hoodlums, suspected to be members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, invaded the protest ground.
We learnt that the men were armed with cutlasses, guns and axes and injured several protesters.
They were also said to have vandalised vehicles in a bid to disperse the crowd.
Footage trending online showed some of the injured protesters soaked in blood while seeking medical aid.
Some of the hoodlums were alleged to have been conveyed to the protest scene in a government-owned bus known as BRT.
An eyewitness, Seyi Adebayo, said the thugs attacked the protesters on the claim that the protest was affecting their businesses.
After the incident, the protesters regrouped and continued their agitations.
Private securities, including bouncers, were reportedly hired to bolster the confidence of participants of the demonstration.
Some Nigerians, who condemned the attack on the social media, alleged that the hoodlums were sponsored by the Lagos state government; the state Chairman of the NURTW, Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo; a developer, Taoreed Faronbi, aka Baba Alado, among others.
Akinsanya, however, denied the allegation in a video he posted online.
He said, “I don’t know any of those that went there; I didn’t collect any money to scatter the protest; my sisters and brothers and people that I know have been protesting. I also support the protest.”
Faronbi, during a telephone conversation with one of our correspondents, also denied sponsoring thugs to attack the youth.
“They are just telling lies against me. I am telling you now that anyone they catch with a cutlass should face justice. The police should shoot anyone that is caught disrupting protests.
Why should I attack protesters? What interest do I have in the matter? I don’t even know those behind the attack, but I am sure politicians are behind it,” he said, is only one who is not interested in Nigeria getting better will attack protesters.
Primero Transport Services Limited, operators of the BRT vehicle alleged to have conveyed the hoodlums to the protest ground, also denied knowing anything about it.
Primero, which is led by Fola Tinubu, said many other companies had been given licences to operate BRT and the bus could have been owned by any company. it, therefore, distanced itself from the thugs.
The state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, condemned the attack on the protesters in a series of tweets and assured the youth that they would be protected by security agents.
Using his Twitter handle, @jidesanwoolu, he wrote, “I strongly condemn the attack on peaceful protesters by armed and unscrupulous elements trying to cause chaos in Alausa today.
My government will never tolerate the attack on protesters.”
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said it was not true that the government-sponsored the thugs.
“As a government, we will never encourage thuggery or any act of violence that may put the lives and businesses of Lagosians at risk.
We are strongly committed to ensuring that our youths, who have taken to the streets to air their views, are well protected,” he added.
The Lagos State Security Trust Fund, in a statement, said there was the need for police reform in the country.
The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the LSSTF, Dr Abdurrazaq Balogun, noted that the commitment of the agency as encapsulated in the success recorded with Rapid Response Squad in Lagos was proof that decent modern policing was possible in the country
The Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, confirmed the killing of two people during the protest at Alagbado.
“In the same vein, the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has arrested and commenced orderly room trial of four policemen, Inspector Bagou Michael, Inspector Ekpoudom Etop, Sergeant Nnamdi Majura and Sergeant Akinyemi Benson, who was caught assaulting a young protester in a viral video in Surulere on Monday,” he added.