Aggrieved Youths Set for Second Wave Uprising in Lagos, Abuja As CBN Freezes EndSARS Protesters Accounts

253 views | Akanimo Sampson | November 8, 2020

An avoidable second wave of national protest is looming as aggrieved Nigerian youths are threatening to take to the streets again on Monday, November 9, in some parts of Lagos, the country’s commercial capital and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

This is coming following a court order granting the Central Bank of Nigeria, the right to freeze the accounts of 19 individuals and a public affairs company linked to the EndSARS protests.

Already, the sitting of the Lagos State Panel of Judicial Inquiry probing the alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki tollgate was frustrated on Saturday due to the absence of the two youth members of the panel, Oluwarinu Oduala and Temitope Majekodunmi.

Oduala, who is one of the promoters of the EndSARS protest, failed to show up for the Saturday sitting in protest against the freezing of her bank account by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Punch reports that the apex bank obtained a court order freezing the accounts of 20  EndSARS promoters till January 2021. One of those affected was Oduala.

Chairman of the judicial, retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, said the panel had no other option but to suspend Saturday sitting as it could not form a quorum in the absence of the two youths.

Justice Okuwobi said, “We are confronted with a situation which prevented her (Oduala) from coming. We do not know if the two youths’ representatives will eventually pull out. We don’t want a situation where proceedings would go on and later it is impugned with controversy for lack of quorum.”

Justice Okuwobi stressed that it was important for all the sittings of the panel to be held in accordance with the law. “In all matters, we have to wait for them (youth representatives) to join us. Without them, we are handicapped”, she said.

The panel scheduled Saturday to take the testimony of the Nigerian Army on the October 20 shootings by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos.

A soldier had already taken the witness stand when before Justice Okuwobi announced that the sitting could not proceed.

Responding, counsel for the Nigerian Army, A. T. Kehinde (SAN), who explained that the army’s appearance on Saturday was pursuant to an October 28 summons by the panel, appreciated the panel for explaining its challenges to everyone.

He asked to be guided on the next date his client would appear before the panel.

Also speaking, counsel for the Lagos State Government, Olukayode Enitan (SAN), aligned himself with the submission by the counsel for the Army.

“The issue of a quorum is if utmost importance as to the competence of the panel to proceed and as to the integrity of recommendation to be made at the end of proceedings. Therefore, the directive for the panel to adjourn is quite appropriate”, Enitan said.

Counsel for EndSARS protesters, Adesina Ogunlana, who described the development as an embarrassment to both the panel and lawyers, also claimed he has privileged information about plans to disrupt the panel sittings using thugs.

While advising the panel to be proactive and to ask the government to do the needful, he adds, “The government cannot approbate and reprobate. This disconnect must be addressed immediately.”

Also, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, who said he was before the panel on behalf of some victims who wanted to make a presentation before it said he would need the panel’s directive in view of the development.

Olumide-Fusika gave the names of some of his clients as Raimi Olumide, Solomon Samuel Ageze, Olamilekan Sanusi, Ayodeji Beckley, Samuel Asala, Agbese Isiawu and Onileowo Legend.

Justice Okuwobi adjourned further sitting of the panel till next Saturday, November 14.

The panel had on Friday fixed next Tuesday, November 10, to continue the viewing of the video footage of the Lekki shootings submitted by the Lekki Concession Company, operator of the tollgate.

In a chat with reporters, the EndSARS protesters’ lawyer, Ogunlana, said the freezing of the bank accounts of the promoters of the protests had substantiated his submission to the panel on Friday that his life and those of his clients were being threatened.

He declared the freezing of the protesters’ accounts as a declaration of war by the government. “Why are they boycotting the panel? Why did they choose to boycott the panel? It is because one of them has been sanctioned by the Federal Government via the court.

“These people say, ‘How can you put us on a panel for the purpose of resolving this issue and then you are sanctioning us very drastically?’

“We are talking about financial squeeze; they can’t operate their accounts again; that’s a declaration of war. You know one of the ways of fighting a war is starvation. So, these people are saying you can’t ask us to do a job, promising peace and progress, then you are punishing us. That is what happened. And the law setting the panel up say those young people, representatives of the youth are necessary. So, their presence is necessary for the panel to form a quorum”, the lawyer said.

Shaken Lagos State Government is urging youths planning a fresh uprising in the state to shelve such in the interest of peace. It is adviseing Lagosians to shun “any act that may threaten the peace of our dear state, which is battling to recover from the shock of the carnage unleashed by hoodlums who hid under the EndSARS protests.”

Information and Strategy Commissioner, Gbenga Omotoso, in a statement spoke of hints of new protests “even as we are still counting our painful losses in lives and property. The police have warned that no protest will be tolerated.”

Adding, he said, “any protest under any guise will be disrespectful to the memory of those who died in the violence and unfair to ordinary Lagosians, who have remained peaceful, despite the hardship that the original protests sparked.

“It is clear that the original protests, despite their good intentions, have caused more havoc than they were planned to resolve. The government hereby appeals to our patriotic youths to shelve any plan for a protest and join the practical efforts to find a solution to the problems that have been thrown up by the actions taken in recent weeks.

“Parents and guardians are enjoined to keep their children /wards at home; they should not be used as tools of destruction by enemies of our society. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu advises all Lagosians to remain calm and confident that the government will guard jealously the emblem of peace that Lagos is famous for. Any person or group of persons who plans to fuel any crisis in Lagos should drop such thoughts or be ready to face the law.”

In the mean time, the Commander, 9 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Musa Etsu-Ndagi, representing the Nigerian Army on the Lagos State Security Council, has said he received a phone call from the Lagos State governor, Sanwo-Olu, around 7.23pm on October 20, 2020 informing him that a certain Lt Col Bello was reportedly shooting at the Lekki tollgate where EndSARS protesters were gathered.

Etsu-Ndagi said he immediately called Bello, who is the Commanding Officer, 65 Battalion, Bonny Camp, Victoria Island, and he (Bello) told him that he only fired blank ammunition into the air.

Etsu-Ndagi, who is one of the top four military officers listed as witnesses of the Nigerian Army before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the Lekki tollgate shootings, stated this in his statement on oath filed at the panel’s registry on Friday.

The top Nigerian Army officers insisted that soldiers never shot at or killed anyone and there was no massacre at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20.

They vehemently denied using live ammunition on the #EndSARS protesters who gathered at the tollgate, adding that soldiers did not take any dead bodies away.

Bello said the protesters were, in fact, happy to see the soldiers at the tollgate, adding that he personally offered the protesters water and drinks while persuading them to go home and observe the 24-hour curfew declared by the Lagos State Government.

The other army officers who deposed to witness statements before the panel are the Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Brig Gen Ahmed Taiwo; the Chief of Staff, 81 Division, Nigerian Army, VI, Lagos, Brig Gen Nsikak Edet; Commander, 81 Division Garrison, VI, Brig Gen Francis Omata.

Specifically, Omata and Bello told the panel that by the time they arrived at the tollgate, the protest had turned from peaceful to violent.

They said on arrival at the tollgate, they were being pelted with stones and broken bottles and that in response all they did was fire blank ammunition into the air to disperse the crowd.

Omata said, “on arrival at the tollgate at about 7.30pm, I met a rowdy situation. I also met the Commanding Officer, 65 Battalion (Bello), who briefed me on the situation. He briefed me that he met a hostile crowd, hoodlums mixed with the protesters, who were chanting and throwing stones at them. I was able to disperse the crowd by firing blank ammunition into the air.

“At this point, stones and sticks were being thrown at us. Then I moved to a safe area and briefed General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Maj Gen Godwin Ahamefuna Umelo by phone.

“The General Officer Commanding directed me to pacify the hostile crowd and move the troops back to base. However, the crowd still continued chanting #EndSARS. I then instructed the troops to withdraw to base.”

Giving his own account of the incident, Bello said while he was moving towards the Lekki-Ajah Expressway at around 6.45pm, he heard gunshots before the tollgate and on coming down he saw that “the crowd had turned from peaceful protesters to a mob, infiltrated by hoodlums.”

He said, “on getting to the tollgate, I persuaded the crowd to go home and observe the 24-hours curfew declared by the state government. But surprisingly, the hoodlums continued throwing stones, bottles and other dangerous objects at us and were burning tyres. I again fired some blank ammunition upward to scare the hoodlums away. But some protesters who were still at the tollgate sitting down quietly were given water and drinks by me while pleading with them to go home.”

Bello stressed that “we did not fire at the protesters. Blank ammunition were fired upward to scare the hoodlums from the crowd. Nobody was shot dead at the Lekki tollgate, there was no massacre as claimed. The claim that the military took away dead bodies was not true. The protesters were happy to see us as indicated in some of the video clips of 20th October 2020.”

Apparently not perturbed, Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the deployment of legitimate force to protect the lives and property of citizens, including police officers.

Nigeria Police spokesman, Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.

Adamu said the protection must also cover personnel of other law enforcement agencies, their families and prevent attacks on private/public assets from violent persons or groups operating under any guise.

He called on senior Command officers, including Commissioners of Police (CPs), and Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) to resist all riotous elements forthwith.

The IGP urged the CPs and AIGs to checkmate any form of violent/riotous protests in line with Section 33 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

He said the section of the constitution provides for the use of such force as is reasonably necessary, for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property.

Adamu said the section also allows for force in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.

The IGP said the force will not tolerate a repeat of attacks and killings, arson and wanton destruction, and looting of public and private assets witnessed during the recent violent protests in some parts of the country.

He warned that the Force would deploy the full weight of the law and legitimate force, if necessary in preventing a reoccurrence.

Adamu pledged the commitment of the force to ensure the safety and security of law-abiding citizens across the country ahead of the yuletide, and called for the collaboration and support of citizens in the ongoing reforms of the Force.

In the wake of the EndSARS protests and the violence that followed, a total of 51 civilian fatalities and 37 injured persons were recorded.

Report shows that that 22 policemen were murdered and 26 others injured by the protesters with 205 police stations, corporate facilities and private property attacked, burnt or vandalized.

Leave a Comment