Protests Escalate as Hoodlums Free Prisoners in Benin, Lagos Locked down

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Chuks Okocha, Olawale Ajimotokan, Kingsley Nwezeh, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Chiemelie Ezeobi, Segun James, Rebecca Ejifoma in Lagos and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin

EndSARS protesters yesterday grounded commercial activities in Lagos as they blocked major road outlets, hindering the movements of human and vehicular traffic.

The protesters, who had been on the streets for about 11 days to demonstrate over police brutality, demanded the full implementation of their requests, including police reforms and prosecution of police officers and men indicted for human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings.

The attendant insecurity arising from the protest forced the Lagos State government to close public and private schools, warning parents and guardians not to allow their children and wards to be used as tools by those who may want to hijack the protests and cause mayhem.

Similar protests turned violent in Benin City and Abuja, where marchers and troops, deployed to abort the blockade of major highways in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), clashed and thugs attacked protesters, killing three persons and burning several vehicles.

In Benin City, the Edo State capital, thugs, who infiltrated the protesters, attacked the Correctional Facility on Sapele Road, during which they allegedly freed about 120 inmates.

They also vandalised the second Correctional Facility at Oko, also in Benin City.

In addition, the hoodlums attacked three police stations in the state, sacked all the personnel attached to them, set detained suspects free and carted away arms and ammunition.

The incidents prompted the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to impose a 24-hour curfew on the state until further notice.

However, amid the violence, Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, yesterday, quoted the president as saying that the youths have the right to protest peacefully while making demands on their leaders.

The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) has also pledged to fulfill the demands of the protesters just as the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, has alleged that the protesters have a hidden agenda.

Reports from across Lagos State yesterday showed that while the protest was largely peaceful at Alausa and Lekki toll gate, which has been the venues where the protesters have been converging since the onset of the demonstration, hoodlums cashed in on the situation in other parts of the state such as Ajah, Ikorodu, Iyana Ipaja, to attack and rob motorists and pedestrians.

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