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31 Foreign Nationals Repatriated For Illegal Mining In Zamfara [LEADERSHIP]

Not fewer than 31 foreign nationals have been deported from Zamfara State for engaging in illegal mining.

Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, disclosed this yesterday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over the recent bandits’ attack in his state which left 20 people dead.

Speaking to State House correspondents, he said most of the illegal miners are not Nigerians but with the support of the army, police and other security agencies in the state, some of them were apprehended and repatriated to their respective countries.

“We have deported 11 Chinese and over 20 from Burkina Faso and Mali. You know we have the problem of a very porous border particularly from Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Niger Republic,” the governor stated.

On why he met with the president, he said, “I came to brief Mr. President on the current security situation in the state. After the disbandment of SARS we had some challenges, particularly day before yesterday about 20 people were killed in a local government.

“So, I am soliciting for Mr. President to intervene and see how we can have more security personnel to secure the state’s territory. I also informed him about some illegal miners’ activities and taking place in the state.

“We have been able to form committee, a task force on illegal mining, so that they can go round the state and fish out those behind the illegal mining activities.

“Most of the illegal miners are not Nigerians but with the support of army, police and other security agencies in the state, some of them were apprehended and repatriated to their respective countries. Those were the two issues we discussed with Mr. President.”

Matawalle noted that foreigners used to cross the borders freely to the state, adding however that some measures had been taken by the Nigeria Immigration Services to check the porous border.

He said, “I know they have put some measures in this border to checkmate the movement of other nationals into Nigeria. I am confident that very soon we won’t have the problem of other nationals illegally come into our country anymore.

“Still on the gold mine, what we are doing now with the task force that will be put in place to check illegal miners, I think the central government needs to do something and put measures in place to harness these untapped mineral resources in the state.  As you are aware, the ministry of solid minerals is working hard with genuine workable document that will benefit both the state and federal government”.

The governor further said the disbanded Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) had helped in tackling banditry in the state.

He disclosed that he sought the president’s assistance on deployment of more security personnel to the state.

According to him, the state didn’t experience the highhandedness of the SARS personnel.

 

Gowon, IBB, Jonathan, Others Condemn Divisive, Inciting Utterances [LEADERSHIP]

Former Nigerian leaders yesterday condemned what they described as divisive and inciting pronouncements of separatists in respect of the #EndSARS protest, saying such acts should be stopped.

At a virtual meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, each of the former heads of state and presidents commended the actions taken by state governors to address the demands of the protesters and their efforts to check the excesses of those who perpetrated violent acts and conduct.

They commended President Buhari for the efforts made so far to restore calm and order to the country.

They applauded the presidential broadcast of Thursday as detailed and soothing to the country.

The meeting also had the country’s security chiefs and top government officials in attendance.

Those present at the Council Chambers with President Buhari included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; secretary to government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; chief of staff to the president, Professor Ibrahim Gambari and national security adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno(rtd).

Others were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olanisakin; Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; director-general of Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi and director-general of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai.

The past leaders who attended the meeting included Gen Yakubu Gowon (rtd), President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), Chief Ernest Shonekan, Gen Abulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and Goodluck Jonathan.

Specifically, former President Obasanjo lauded President Buhari for addressing the nation in a nationwide broadcast, saying the president was on point in his speech.

‘’I commend the speech of last night. The nation had been waiting. You made points that I believe need to be commended. Peaceful demonstration is part of democratic practice. The demands of the genuine protesters were accepted, and you are working on implementation. We commend you,’’ a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted Obasanjo as saying.

The former heads of state and presidents were also unanimous in their view that generation of employment and growing the economy including through direct foreign investments were critical to checking youth restiveness.

They also expressed their condolences to the bereaved families of civilians, policemen and soldiers killed as a result of the violent protest, and reaffirmed the commitment to respect the fundamental rights of citizens, including for peaceful protest as enshrined in the Constitution.

They called on the youths to pursue peaceful means in seeking redress through engagement with Government and encouraged further conversation with the youths and other stakeholders in the country.

Speaking earlier, President Buhari told the former leaders that the initial genuine and well-intended protest of youths in parts of the country against the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was hijacked and misdirected.

President Buhari reiterated that the government would not fold its arms and allow miscreants and criminals continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism in the country.

The president recounted the initial concessions made by his administration on the demands of youths protesting against the excesses of some members of the SARS.

He recalled that the youths had demanded that the squad be disbanded and further articulated additional demands.

He listed the demands to include: ‘’The immediate release of all arrested protesters. Justice for deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.

‘’Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct within 10 days. Psychological evaluation and re-training of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be re-deployed; and increase in police salary.’’

The president said, ‘’We accepted all the demands and proceeded immediately to scrap SARS and started the process of addressing the other demands.

‘’Unfortunately, the protesters refused to call off the protest and engage the government to address their grievances. Instead, they became emboldened and gradually turned violent.’’

 

#EndSARS Protesters Halt Action After PMB’s Broadcast [LEADERSHIP]

Relative calm has returned to major Nigerian cities hit by the #EndSARS protest, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s nationwide broadcast on Thursday night.

Major cities across the country had been hit by violence which left dozens dead after hoodlums hijacked the #EndSARS protest calling for an end to police brutality, looting and unleashing of mayhem on innocent citizens.

Checks by LEADERSHIP Weekend revealed that protesters in many states have suspended their actions, even as governors in some governors have relaxed the curfew imposed in their respective states.

In Lagos, the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, relaxed the curfew imposed in the wake of violence triggered by the #EndSARS protest that led to the destruction of public and privately owned facilities in the state.

The governor who made the announcement on Friday while briefing journalists at the Lagos House in Marina said the residents can move around the state from today.

He said, “We have decided that we are going to be easing the curfew from tomorrow (Saturday) morning; and what that easing means is that people will be allowed to go out from 8am to 6pm.

“For emphasis, from 8am tomorrow morning, you will be allowed to go out, to go wherever you wish till 6pm in the evening. We will look at the curfew on Saturday and Sunday and we will come back to you on what will happen in the days – Monday, Tuesday, and into the week.”

Sanwo-Olu, however, urged residents to be mindful of the barricades on the roads while driving, especially at night.

He stated that he had just concluded a tour of hospitals where some of the injured persons, especially the victims of the shooting in Lekki, were receiving treatment.

The governor said as a result of the destruction of properties following the violence, officials of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) would embark on a thorough cleaning of the state.

He appealed to residents to try as much as possible to stay at home if it was not very important for them to go out.

Sanwo-Olu said, “We have commenced the clean-up of the city because the city needs a whole lot of clean-ups; a whole lot of roadblocks, tires burnt on the roads.

 

Lekki shootings: US reaffirms visa ban policy for anti-democratic forces [PUNCH]

The United States Government may impose a visa restriction on persons found culpable in the shooting of unarmed #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos on Tuesday.

This is just as the judicial panel set up by the Lagos State Government to probe the Lekki killings is set to begin investigation into the incident on Monday.

Soldiers deployed to quell the protests had opened fire on protesters. While the Defence headquarters has denied deploying soldiers in the Lekki Toll Plaza, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu insisted the military carried out the shooting on the peaceful protesters at the toll plaza.

The governor said, “For clarity, it is imperative to explain that no sitting governor controls the rules of engagement of the military. I have, nonetheless, ordered an investigation into the rules of engagement adopted by men of the Nigerian Army that were deployed to the Lekki tollgate last night.”

Although the casualty figure remains a subject of controversy, global rights group, Amnesty International, says 12 persons were killed in the incident.

Saturday PUNCH subsequently sent an email inquiry to the US Foreign Mission to Nigeria on whether those found wanting in the shootings would be banned from visiting the US.

The email enquiry read, “With regard to the shootings at the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos and attack on protesters in various parts of the country, will the United States Government be considering a visa ban on persons found wanting in the last few weeks?”

In its response, the embassy stated, “We stand by Secretary Pompeo’s statement of October 8, 2020: Adherence to these democratic norms and to the rule of law allows all citizens to engage in political dialogue and support their choice of candidates, parties, and platforms.

“We will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions.”

Earlier, senior officials of the United States Government on Thursday met with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and expressed displeasure over the shootings.

Although the Nigerian Army had denied deploying soldiers to the scene, the US officials demanded that the soldiers behind the shootings be brought to justice.

The spokesperson for the State Department, Morgan Ortagus, said in a statement that the officials were led by the Counsellor of the US State Department, Ulrich Brechbühl.

Others at the meeting include Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali.

The officials, according to the statement, raised concerns over the ongoing violence in Nigeria as well as human rights violations and human trafficking.

The statement read in part, “Counsellor T. Ulrich Brechbühl met with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo today in Abuja, Nigeria as part of a previously scheduled delegation, which included Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali, to raise US concerns about ongoing violence in Nigeria, human rights, religious freedom, and trafficking in persons, and to hear from senior Nigerian government officials how they are addressing those issues.

“The counsellor expressed the US condemnation of the use of excessive force by military forces that fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos. He expressed condolences to the victims of these shootings and urged the government of Nigeria to abide by its commitment to hold those responsible accountable under the law.”

 

16 SARS operatives indicted for killings in five states –Presidential panel [PUNCH]

Sixteen operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad have been indicted for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance in five states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Saturday PUNCH reports that the 16 operatives were recommended for prosecution by the Presidential Panel on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

The report was submitted to the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), on June 3, 2019.

It was recently submitted to the Police Service Commission, the Inspector-General of Police and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation in the wake of the #EndSARS protests, for prosecution and disciplinary actions.

The report indicted a total of 35 police operatives in 12 states and the FCT for various rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, death in police custody, unlawful arrest, biased investigation, unlawful intimidation, harassment, criminal assault, torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment,  threat to life, extortion and confiscation of property, among others.

Aside from the FCT, the 12 states where the indicted officers allegedly perpetrated the recorded rights violations are Akwa Ibom, Benue, Delta, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, and Rivers.

Analysis of the report by our correspondent showed that 16 of the 35 indicted officers were accused of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance in five states and the FCT.

The five states are, Lagos, Kaduna, Imo, Delta and Enugu.

Imo State, with seven officers indicted for extrajudicial killings, had the highest number of confirmed cases of violation of the right to life, followed by Abuja with five.

For Imo, those indicted for extrajudicial killings among other allegations, including unlawful arrest and detention, threats to life, are ASP Columbus Aniozor, Inspector Nwachukwu, Inspector Ndidi Nwaneri, Inspector Femi, CSP Godfrey Ogbeide Victor (OC SARS, Imo), ASP Banjoko (OC SARS, Akokowa, Imo State) and Corporal Echara Alice.

The five indicted for extrajudicial killings in Abuja are Inspector Augustine Nwobodo, Sgt Nuhu Shuaibu, Cpt Mohammed Tetengi, Inspector Dennis Matthew and ASP Felix Onuoha.

Aside from being accused of extrajudicial killings, the trio of Nwobodo, Shuaibu and Tentegi were also accused of refusal to release the corpses of the victims.

For Lagos, only Inspector Akeem Balogun was indicted for killing while two others, Inspector Ibukun Olusoga, and ASP Columbus, were indicted for enforced disappearance.

The rest of the states, Enugu, Delta and Kaduna each had one case of extrajudicial killings.

Sgt Paul Everest was indicted for alleged torture leading to death in custody in Enugu State.

ASP Muyiwa was indicted for unlawful arrest, detention and extrajudicial killing in Delta State.

In Kaduna State, Inspector Yakubu Baba was indicted for torture, violation of the right to life and dignity of the human person.

In addition to the confirmed cases of extrajudicial killing, the panel ordered further investigations into nine of such cases in Imo, Benue, Kwara, Kogi, Lagos and Rivers states.

The panel directed further investigation of “the circumstances leading to the death of Collins Okoronkwo Ezenwa and officers responsible for his death” in Imo State.

It also directed a coroner’s inquest into the death of Uchena Ugwueze in the state.

In Benue State, the panel directed for further investigation into the extrajudicial killings in two cases.

It, in one of the cases, ordered a probe “to reveal the identities of the police officers involved in the heinous killing of Agande Adi and Olowe Adi.”

 

#EndSARS: CAN, Islamic council knock Buhari’s aide for blaming religious bodies [PUNCH]

The Christian Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs have scolded the Presidency for attributing the nationwide #EndSARS protests to hate message from religious houses.

CAN and NSCIA, in separate interviews on Friday, knocked the Presidency for engaging in a blame game, rather than resolving the issues.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had in an article titled, ‘If Nigeria dies, hatred killed her,’ said the #EndSARS movement was a vehicle of hate message encouraged by religious centres.

He wrote, “The EndSARS campaign began as an agitation against police brutality, in which there was unanimity of purpose. And suddenly, it became a vehicle of hate. Against leadership, against national cohesion, an opportunity to settle political scores, and equally prepare for a power grab in 2023. Hatred came into the mix.

“From hateful messages from the pulpit, as if that was the message of love Jesus Christ handed over to his followers; from unduly critical messages during Juma’at services; from radio and television programmes, in which bile is spewed. From talk shows which became a harangue of government, newspaper articles and columns tailored to instigate and generate dissent, and the like.

“Those beaten black and blue in the 2015 and 2019 elections also crept in, and asked for their pound of flesh, while also plotting for a return to power in 2023. Hatred is evinced from many quarters for Nigeria, and for its government and people at any given time. It comes from churches, mosques, professional activists and agitators, interest groups, some elements in the media, so-called analysts who never see anything good, and so on and so forth.”

In its reaction, CAN through Pastor Bayo Oladeji, the Special Adviser to the President, Rev Supo Ayokunle, said the church was not a praise singer of the government and would always seek the welfare of the people.

Oladeji said, “It is difficult to know if Femi Adesina was speaking his mind or the mind of his principal. The problem of some government’s functionaries begins with their myopic thought that they love the country more than the people. This is very wrong and unfortunate.

“Right from the outset of this government to date, its functionaries and spokespersons are notorious for blame game. They have never owned up like Adam and Eve who threw themselves out of the Garden of Eden as a result of blame game.

“Was it the church that gave an order to the military and the police to move to the streets against the protesters in the pretext of preventing it from being hijacked? Did the Federal Government seek counsel from the church on the steps taken? Was it the church that hired exotic cars, buses and lorries to transport the thugs that attacked unarmed protesters?

“The position of CAN has been the position of the United Nations, global citizens and some eminent citizens who have spoken. We learnt there was a virtual meeting organised by the Presidency with the former Presidents and Heads of State, we challenge the Presidency to publish the verbatim report of the virtual meeting to see if those former leaders commended the government for allowing the unprecedented peaceful protest to degenerate into bloodletting.”

Also, the NSCIA head of Media and Publicity, Ibrahim Aselemi, said, “The NSCIA has done a lot in sensitising spiritual leaders of mosques in Nigeria to why hate speech is injurious to our collective existence.

“At various times, the council has appealed to the Federal Government to deal decisively with the users of hate speech. The council has cautioned imams that hate speech is not free speech. So I don’t know with the greatest respect where the President’s spokesman got his information.”

 

Why Buhari didn’t speak on Lekki shootings, by Presidency [THE NATION]

President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t mention anything about the shooting of #ENDSARS protesters in Lekki on Tuesday night during a nationwide broadcast yesterday because it would be “premature and presumptuous.”

Many Nigerians have carpeted Buhari for not mentioning about the shootings or empathising with the victims during the much-awaited presidential broadcast, describing the ommission as deliberate and callous.

But his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, who appeared on Politics Today, a live show on Channel Televisions monitored by The Nation, said the President couldn’t have said anything about the shooting because it was being investigated.

 

He said: “The Defence Headquarters issued a statement to say that it was investigating the matter. Lagos State Governor has also set up a probe panel to investigate what really happened.

“So, the President couldn’t have said anything because it would be premature and presumptuous while investigation is ongoing. It is after investigation has been concluded that he can speak on the matter.”

 

#EndSARS: How to prevent future unrest, by former presidents [THE NATION]

Former Nigerian heads of state and presidents were on Friday unanimous in their view that generation of employment and growing the economy, including through direct foreign investments, were critical to checking youth restiveness.

This was part of their conclusions at the end of an emergency consultation on them by President Muhammadu Buhari, via video conferencing, over recent social and security developments in parts of the country in the last few days.

At the meeting were all living past leaders, including: Gen. Yakubu Gowon, President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Gen. Abulsalami Abubakar, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The former heads of state, according to a statement issued by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, also condemned the divisive and inciting pronouncements of separatists and were of the opinion that such acts should be stopped.

They also expressed their condolences to the bereaved families of civilians, policemen and soldiers killed as a result of the violent protest, and reaffirmed the commitment to respect the fundamental rights of citizens, including for peaceful protest as enshrined in the Constitution.

Equally, the former Leaders commended the actions taken by Governors to address the demands of the ENDSARS protesters and their efforts to check the excesses of those who perpetrated violent acts and conduct.

Finally, they called on youths to pursue peaceful means, in seeking redress through engagement with Government and encouraged further conversation with the youths and other stakeholders in the country.

Meanwhile, addressing his predecessors during the virtual meeting, President Buhari said it was unfortunate that the initial genuine and well-intended protest of youths in parts of the country against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was hijacked and misdirected.

The President reiterated that the government would not fold its arms and allow miscreants and criminals continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism in the country.

The President restated the initial concessions made by his administration on the demands of youths protesting against the excesses of some members of the SARS.

He recalled that the youths had demanded that the squad be disbanded, and further articulated the additional demands, including:

”The immediate release of all arrested protesters.

”Justice for deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.

”Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of Police misconduct within 10 days.

”Psychological evaluation and re-training of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be re-deployed; and increase in Police salary”, he said.

The President declared: ”We accepted all the demands and proceeded immediately to scrap SARS and started the process of addressing the other demands.

”Unfortunately, the protesters refused to call off the protest and engage the Government to address their grievances. Instead, they became emboldened and gradually turned violent”, he lamented.

President Buhari expressed concern that in the mayhem that ensued, many lives have been lost, a number of public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalized.

Reiterating his pledge to Nigerians from the nationwide broadcast Thursday, the President reaffirmed:

”We will continue to improve good governance through our democratic process including through sustained engagement.

”We shall also continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens are protected. Here, I want to also reaffirm our commitment to preserving the unity of this country”, he stated.

The President thanked the former Heads of State for attending the meeting and their invaluable comments, observations and advice, adding that ”Nigerians expect nothing less from responsible statesmen.”

Each of the former leaders commended President Buhari for steps taken so far to restore calm and order to the country and also applauded the presidential broadcast of Thursday as detailed and soothing to the country.

”I commend the speech of last night. The nation had been waiting. You made points that I believe need to be commended. Peaceful demonstration is part of democratic practice. The demands of the genuine protesters were accepted, and you are working on implementation. We commend you,” former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said.

 

Buhari meets former leaders, Security Chiefs [THE NATION]

President Muhammadu Buhari is in an emergency meeting with former leaders and Security Chiefs.

Though the agenda is yet to be disclosed, the impromptu meeting, which started about 10am, was reportedly convened by Buhari to consult over recent social and security developments in different parts of the country.

All the former Heads of State and Presidents participating in the meeting are linked virtually while the security heads are in the Executive Council Chambers of the State House with the President.

Among former leaders attending the meeting include Generals Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd), Goodluck Jonathan and Chief Ernest Shonekan

Those present at the Council Chambers with the President include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari and National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno(Rtd).

Others include the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olanisakin; Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Director General Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi and Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai.

The meeting is going on behind closed doors but the agenda might be related to the mood of the nation and how to find a solution to unrest across the nation.

 

My heart bleeds with level of destruction, says Sanwo-Olu [THE NATIO]

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Friday said his heart bleeds and he was pained after seeing the level of destruction that took place in the state on Wednesday and Thursday as a result of the #EndSARS protests.

Sanwo-Olu was addressing the press after a tour of the areas where massive destruction that took place in the state.

The governor visited 27 locations which includes: Palace of the Oba of Lagos, Ajeromi Ifelodun LG, FRSC, VIO office Ojodu Berger, BRT park at Berger, Lekki toll gate, bus terminals, police stations, historic government buildings, City Hall, private malls, offices, banks ATM etc.

The governor said he was traumatized by it all and was in tears when he saw the level of destruction especially the oldest court in Nigeria at Igbosere, adding that “we have not seen this level of destruction before in the state.”

According to him, “this is not the Lagos that was handed over to me in May 2019, how did we get here, this was supposed to be a peaceful protest.”

Moving forward, Sanwo-Olu said, “we need to continue to talk to ourselves,” he urged citizens who are still using the social media to instigate and incite citizens to desist.

“Everywhere i went today, people say they want peace, we all want peace, we can not continue to lose our population and our monuments and infrastructure.”

The governor, who also visited some hospitals where some of the injured at Tuesday Lekki toll gate were taken care of, said most of them have been discharged while the few remaining are responding to treatment.

Sanwo-Olu said the government would pick up the bills for the treatment of the injured.

He also said, the terms of reference of the judicial panel of inquiry and restitution has been expanded to include investigation of all issues that happened at Lekki Toll gate on Tuesday and it will be sitting at the Lagos Court of Arbitration at Lekki from Monday, urging all who have a case to petition the panel.

The governor has also eased the 24hours curfew from Sunday as movements will be allowed from 8am to 6pm.

Sanwo-Olu said the state has commenced the process of clearing the roads of all blockages, adding that LAWMA was out already and will work through out the night.

Stressing that “Lagos needs to heal and the healing has started,” Sanwo-Olu said.

 

Police recruit OPC to guard stations [SUN]

A day or two ago, a video trending on several WhatsApp platforms, and said to be from Ughelli Area Command, A-Division, Delta State, showed some police officers and men running and singing solidarity song at the same time. Momentarily, a voice-over broke in, on the tape that had since gone viral.

“The police are protesting,” it announced. “Stop the killing of police. Stop burning police stations.  You have killed our people enough. The police are human beings. We are tired. We are ready to kill those hoodlums now. They are trying to burn the station but we will overpower them and send them back. We will kill them. We will wait for them. Yes. Enough is enough. Stop killing police. Stop burning police stations.”

Apparently, speaking to his fellow policemen, the voice ordered: “Everybody go and protect the barracks there. They said they are coming. We are ready to kill now. Let them come. Yes. We are at alert. We are waiting for them now. They said they are coming. We are ever ready. The IG has given us order. We are waiting.”

Police recruit OPC members to protect them, guard stations

In Lagos where hoodlums are said to have razed to the ground over 17 police stations and allegedly killed over 50 police officers and men, the story and scenario are remarkably different. No policeman is thinking of confronting the hoodlums. None of them is thinking of waiting for them to come meet them at any of the remaining police stations. None of them is ready to carry out any order from anybody, IG or Police Commissioner, to kill or shoot on sight.

Rather, everything about security of lives and property of the police officers and men have been sourced out to members of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), the Yoruba socio-cultural cum security organisation founded in August 1994 by Dr. Frederick Fasehun, after the annulment of the June 1993 elections, and the 1994 arrest of Moshood Abiola, winner of that election, to protect and promote the interests of the Yoruba people.

A senior officer who was amongst those that were wounded during the attack by hoodlums at Ajao Estate Division of the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command, confirmed this fact when he told Saturday Sun that they were helpless and had no choice than to hire OPC men to protect them.

His report: “It is horrible that we are now the target. These were hoodlums and we were not permitted to shoot at them. We had no choice than to beg OPC to help us. But this was after the hoodlums carted away our rifles.”

In years gone by, the OPC had drawn much support from the less educated population through its use of myths and fetishes. For instance, its members are said to be protected against gunfire through magic. They are said to be armed with charms believed to prevent bullet, cutlass or knife wounds from penetrating the body. A handkerchief soaked in a concoction, a small gourd with black powdery substance, native rings which have also been soaked are believed to prevent gun wounds. Incisions are made on the bodies of the members to prevent harm from befalling them in times of battle.

The senior police officer who does not want his name in print lamented that “it is normal that they will tell you the casualty rate but the truth is that several policemen were butchered while the hoodlums raided the police stations. Hiding the figure will not change the fact that they are dead; instead they should let the world know that we were the real victims during this protest. We lost several rifles. I can tell you that not less than 100 police rifles are in the hands of hoodlums right now.” Some security experts consulted by our reporter said that unless those rifles are recovered and recovered very fast we might likely see a spike in violent crimes across the state and the country in the days ahead.

Ironically, in the past, there was no love lost between the Nigeria Police Force and OPC, especially after the Federal government outlawed the group in 1999 and urged the force to deal ruthlessly with the organisation. But overtime, the relationship between the two seemingly sworn enemies has come to thaw.

Police PRO confirms widespread destruction of police stations

Apart from Ajao Estate, other police stations which were burnt down in Lagos include those of Idimu, Ikotun, Ojodu, Igando, Layeni, Denton, Ilenbe Hausa, Ajah, Amukoko, Ilasa, Cele Outpost under Ijesha and the disbanded SARS offices under Ajegunle, Ebute-Ero, Mushin (Olosan), Ojo, and Ajegunle. Police vehicles were also destroyed and set ablaze during the attacks.

Confirming this yesterday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Lagos, the police spokesperson in the state, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, warned that the burning of the stations could lead to the breakdown of law and order and waste of money on the rebuilding of the destroyed police facilities and infrastructures with monies meant for other projects in the state.

“The implication of this is that money that has been set aside to do other projects and develop certain areas will have to be channeled into repairing these damaged stations.” He said that over 17 police formations across the state have been totally or partially razed by fire caused by hoodlums. “Also, it will make our work harder now because we will have to enhance our patrols in order to cover more grassroots areas that are normally covered by the burnt stations before. I doubt if some of the grassroots stations will ever function at full capacity again, taking into consideration the damaged vehicles and computer equipment that have been lost.”

Adejobi informed that several reports reaching the command alleged that hoodlums are attacking various neighbourhoods unabated as a result of the breakdown of law and order. Earlier NAN reported that last Wednesday, the hoodlums took advantage of the fluid security situation to loot shops at Karonwi Avenue, Itire, Surulere. According to NAN, the looting which started about 8.30 pm and lasted till midnight witnessed several shops and houses broken into, while goods worth millions of naira were looted.

The police spokesman who bemoaned police helplessness in the face of widespread destruction of police stations that what the command would have done under normal circumstance, on receiving such complaints, would have been to direct the police station nearest to the area to quell whatever violent force that was threatening the peace of the residents. But now, he added, “the police have suffered a lot of damage and therefore, cannot quickly re-enforce officers to such areas of unrest because our vehicles and tools of operations have been destroyed.”

Low morale among police officers and men

Adejobi also expressed some worries over the dwindling morale among police officers and men across the state because of the psychological effects of watching their source of income go down the drain. “Every aspect of the economy has been put on hold, and a lot of repairs and catching up will have to be done once normalcy is restored,” he said.

Confirming the Police PRO’s fear, another senior police officer who spoke with Saturday Sun, lamented the psychological effects occasioned by the attacks and killings. “If you go to several police social platforms, you will see how sad they are,” he said. “Everyone is cursing the IG (Inspector General).  Why couldn’t he protect his people? They sent anti-riot team to states. I can tell you that the boys are not willing to fight. Have you heard any result since the announcement? You took away weapons from the people that can fight these hoodlums and you did not send anyone to replace them? This can only happen because the IG is an administrative person.  He spent most of his career years in the administrative section of the police. How can an IG watch hoodlums butcher his boys and he is waiting for Buhari to beg him to defend his people? In the history of Nigerian police, we have not been this demoralized.”

Another senior officer whose station was burnt down in Edo State told Saturday Sun how he narrowly escaped death. He said: “Everywhere was already tensed and I was summoned to the command to give situation report when the hoodlums attacked. Four of my men were killed and all the rifles and pistols found at the station were carted away. The three other stations had the same experience; just in a day we lost up to six policemen in Edo. No one is talking about it but the figure is much. I thank God that they did not meet me there; maybe my wife would have been turned into a widow. The major challenge is how and where to fish out those inmates that escaped. Several confirmed criminals were in the prison and they do not have any confirmed house address. We are still not safe because they will haunt us down.”

How I narrowly escaped death – Police inspector

Grateful to God for sparing his life, an inspector attached to the Orile Iganmu Police Division, Lagos, said he missed death by a whisker. His testimony: “In less than five minutes after I stepped out to buy food, they attacked. It was horrible. I ran for my dear life and was calling for a backup. But no one came till it was late. We are aware that these killings everywhere were done by hoodlums, not protesters. We have lost many men and officers and the IG is doing nothing to boost the morale of his men. I can imagine that if the hoodlums had attacked and killed two soldiers, hell would have been let loose. They would have fished them out and slaughtered them and nothing would happen. No one cares that we are suffering; the IG refused to do anything to help his boys. Majority of our boys are still in hospital battling for their lives. Have you heard or read anything about a governor or even the CP visiting them? They don’t care and I must tell you that at this stage in my career if I get a better job, I will leave.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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