October 20, (THEWILL) – Members of the civil society organizations (CSOs) and youths in Edo State, on Wednesday held a memorial for the #EndSARS protest in Benin City, the state capital.
There was heavy presence of joint security operatives, including officials of Nigeria Police, Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Edo State Security Network (local vigilante), at the Museum ground venue of the protest as early as 7.30 am.
The security operatives positioned inside the Museum premises and major routes that lead to the park, located at Oba Ovonramwen Square (Ring Road).
Also, security vehicles were parked at strategic positions and entry points into the Ring Road and the State House of Assembly complex. Other parts of the City also have the presence of security operatives and their vehicles.
Earlier, a senior police operative averted what could have degenerated to a clash between security operatives and the protesters, when a civil activist almost exchanged blows with local vigilantes who manned the gate to the Museum grounds.
Trouble started when the activists attempted to drive his car into the Museum grounds, but were stopped by local vigilantes who closed the gates and requested the occupants of the car come down from the vehicle.
This infuriated the CSO member who said he was conveying an amputee victim of #EndSARS to the grounds.
The victim was reportedly amputated after security operatives allegedly rammed into him and others during the protest last year in Auchi, Edo State.
Meanwhile, the Enugu State Police Command has denied a coalition of civil society groups access to their venue for #EndSARS Memorial in the state.
The Chairman of Enugu State Network for Civil Society Organisations and also Regional Coordinator for Action Group of Free Civic Space, Comrade Emmanuel Acha, said the CSOs had booked Centre, located at No 2 Awgu Street Independence Layout Enugu to hold symposium to mark the #EndSARS anniversary.
Acha said, “Unfortunately, when we came to the centre this morning to put one or two things together before 10am we scheduled for the event, the owner of the centre told us we can’t make use of the place again. That he was threatened by the police to seal the centre if they allowed us to hold the event.
“As we speak all the centres we have called for this programme all have told us that the police and the Enugu State Government have warned not not to allow us to hold the event in their centres or they will risk being closed down.”
Acha however, explained that they were not planning to protest but to stay in a place and have a conversation on issues around the #EndSARS protest.
According to him, “we invited a member of the Enugu State ENDSARS Panel on Police Brutality to speak to us on the activities of the panel as regards to the petitions submitted to them on police brutality and extrajudicial killings since October 2020.”
In a flyer circulated for the event, titled ‘End Police Brutality’ the coalition unequivocally stated that, “civil society and youths reject entirely any cover up by Enugu Judicial #EndSARS Panels.”
He said, “We Condemn denial of rights to hearing and fair hearing to victims. We will reject any Judicial panel report without names of all petitioners in the record books. We will reject any Judicial panel’s report without hearing from the witnesses.
“We will reject any Judicial panel’s work not in conformity with terms of reference. We will reject any Judicial Panel’s report without investigation. We reject extortion of victims and we demand investigation into the use of the panel’s fund.
“We reject any ENDSARS/Admin Panel’s report without the involvement of CSOs & NHRC.
“We stand and demand for justice for all victims. We demand opportunity for hearing and fair hearing for all victims. We demand prosecution of perpetrators of brutality and extra judicial killings.”
Efforts to get the police for reaction were unsuccessful as the State Police Public Relations Officer, Daniel Ndukwe, could not be reached at time of filing this report.