The ongoing protest against police brutality in the country took an ugly turn on Saturday as hoodlums in separate incidences attacked Osun and Ekiti State governors.
The Nigeria Army is also set to start Operation Crocodile Smile to counter cyber crimes.
The ENDSARS protests continued in Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Niger, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Imo, Benue, Ekiti, Enugu, Anambra, and Osun with prayers held at various locations in the country while youths defied the directives of the State Security Service in Kano.
Also Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari through her verified Twitter account, started a hashtag #Achechijamaa (rescue the people), she also tweeted a Hausa song calling on her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari to look at the situation in the north and protect the people.
The hashtag is also trending on Twitter as many have started using the hashtag.
- Operation Crocodile Smile VI begins
The Nigerian Army is expanding its Operation Crocodile Smile VI to include a cyber-warfare against negative propaganda.
The operation is scheduled to start on October 20 and end on December 31.
The expansion of the operation comes amidst growing prosecution of the #ENDSARS movement on social media, with dedicated hashtags, websites and apps.
Operation Crocodile Smile VI is designed to “identify, track and counter negative propaganda on the social media and across the cyberspace,” announced Colonel Sagir Musa, acting director of Army public relations.
It is the first-ever cyber warfare exercise in the history of African armed forces.
Meanwhile a Cyber Security researcher at the University of Bedfordshire, UK, Dr Muhammad Hamisu Sharifai, said the launch of cyber warfare by the military may help in containing anti-SARS protesters recourse to social media as mobilisation tool.
He however said Nigeria lacks necessary legal framework for the effective utilisation of the internet in dealing with the excesses of the protesters.
“In some countries indeed government have shut down internet completely, carry on surveillance and shut or block social media accounts for example right now in the US many social media accounts are under surveillance by NSA, FBI and Homeland security, and many have been flagged and shut down, avoiding foreign interference in their election, but all their actions are backed by law.
“The social media companies have to comply with their request and they are complying and have blocked many social media accounts.
“In Nigeria do we have such laws?
“Are there foreign interference or influence in the #ENDSAR protest?
“This is left for the Army to figure out,” he said.
Several youths in Benue State thronged the streets of Makurdi metropolis in solidarity with the #ENDSARS protest.
- Protests spread to more states
Our correspondent reports that the youths commenced their protest from the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Square in Makurdi and walked through major streets of the state capital.
The protests turned violent in Lagos, where two pedestrians were allegedly run over by a protester while people were also feared killed in Osun.
The Osun State governor, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, had joined the protest from Alekuwodo area of the state but was attacked by some individuals while addressing the protesters at Olaiya Junction on Saturday.
The convoy of his Ekiti State counterpart, Governor Kayode Fayemi, in a viral video, which Daily Trust could not verify, was allegedly attacked while leaving the government house.
Oyetola, while addressing the protesters, was interrupted as hoodlums were shouting ‘soro soke were’, meaning speak louder madman.
Some people threw stones at him and the situation eventually got tensed as the governor was shielded and rescued by his aides.
There were gunshots from different directions.
As the governor’s convoy moved, some people chased the vehicles with axes and cutlasses.
Several people, including journalists sustained injuries in the pandemonium as people scampered for safety.
Some victims were rushed to the state hospital, Asubiaro and the Our Lady of Fatima Catholic hospital, Jaleoyemi, Osogbo for treatment.
The Commissioner for Information in the state, Mrs Funke Egbemode, who also sustained injury, said it was an attempt to assassinate the governor.
The Chairman of Osun Civil Societies Coalition, Alhaji Waheed Lawal, said some hoodlums had infiltrated the EndSARS protesters.
Earlier, before the disruption, the governor told the protesters that the state government would foot the hospital bills of all those who sustained injuries during #EndSARS protest in the past days.
In Abuja, the protesters blocked the Murtala Mohammed Expressway popularly called Kubwa Expressway leaving many motorists stranded in gridlock.
They were dispersed by pro-SARS group carrying placards with inscriptions #BringbackSARS, wielding weapons.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Saturday, visited the widow of the late Okechukwu Iloamuazor, who was killed on Monday during the #EndSARS protest at Surulere in Lagos.
The deceased, 55, was killed by a stray bullet while standing by a car.
He assured the widow, Mrs Ngozi Iloamauzor that justice will be done.
“Some of the victims attended and will testify before the panel next week. Justice will be served,” he assured.
His Anambra State counterpart, Willie Obiano, also facilitated the release of three detainees when he visited the former Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) offices in Anambra State.
He visited the SARS offices at Awkuzu, Neni, and Ekwulobia.
- Protesters march to Police Headquarters in Kano
In Kano, the protesters – under the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG)- defied security warnings that barred them from returning to the streets to continue with the ongoing protest on Saturday.
On Friday night, the state Department of Security Service (DSS) had issued a stern warning to the leadership of the protesters against returning to the street.
Sources said the leadership of the coalition later met with DSS operatives where they told them that there was fear that some people planned to hijack the procession which might be bad.
The protesters converged on Daula Roundabout where they trekked to the state’s police command to submit their demands to the concerned authorities.
They demanded that the newly formed SWAT be adequately empowered and sufficiently incentivized for effective and efficient discharge of its primary duty of securing the nation and restoring law, order, and public peace particularly in the distressed communities of northern Nigeria.
They also urged the police to activate and deploy a strong police formation to the disrupted duties of the disbanded SARS of securing the vulnerable communities in northern Nigeria.
Dr Bello Mohammed, the data officer of the coalition, said; “it was a peaceful March and we were met by the state director SSS, police commissioner and other security agencies where we submit our stands.”
- Clashes averted in Owerri
The protesters, Saturday, stopped some police officers in Owerri from driving against traffic.
The youths had blocked the road, thereby making the police officers attempt driving past them against the traffic.
There was a large turnout of protesters at Wethral Road at the Fire Service, leading to Umuahia and Mbaise, thereby preventing vehicles, especially heavy-duty trucks going to Aba and other cities in the South-South region.
The policemen withdrew while officials of the Fire Service Police Station locked their gates.
However, one of the protesters driving against traffic ran over two pedestrians along Airport Road in Lagos.
Witnesses identified the victims as a single mother and another woman who was said to be visiting her father identified as Oyinyechi and Yetunde respectively.
They were taken to a nearby private hospital for treatment.
An eyewitness, Mr Wasiu, said: “If not for this #ENDSARS protest people that block the roads, which lead to cars passing one way, this accident would have not happened, and also the uncompleted bridge here is another problem.”
Meanwhile, the Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, has said without reform, the current structure of the Nigeria Police will raise another terror squad worse than the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
She said apart from SARS, there were still many unscrupulous elements in the police.
“There has been limited progress on accountability of law enforcement agencies and their abuses in the country,” Obi said.
She said police reform should start with the upgrading of police training colleges and recruitment processes.