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#EndSARS: Pattern of violence in Lagos signposts mystery attacks

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Image Credits: UnEarthical/REUTERS, Premium News 24.

Sanwo-Olu blames “criminal elements”

Arson attacks in Lagos on Wednesday following the 24-hour curfew in Lagos State indicate a mysterious pattern of violence.

Buildings and property belonging to the Federal and Lagos State governments and key businesses serving Lagosians were attacked and most of them set on fire.

The Oyingbo BRT Bus Station set ablaze on Wednesday, 21st October 2020.

Among the businesses targetted were those belonging to the Lagos BRT bus services, banks, and media organisations.

With most of the Lagos youth interviewed by various media outfits denying involvement in the attacks, it is now becoming more of a puzzle as to who these assailants are and who is behind them.

A statement released by the Editor, The Nation Newspaper gives insight into the nature of these assailants:

Armed men on motorcycles invaded the headquarters of The Nation on Fatai Atere Way, Matori, Lagos on Wednesday afternoon.
 In a commando-like manner, they kicked their way into the premises after scaring away security men on duty, brandishing their sophisticated guns.
They poured petrol on the frontage of the building and set fire to it.
Some of the vehicles parked within the premises were set ablaze, others vandalised
Many boys came thereafter and swooped on the office, looting everything they could lay their hands on.
These include desktop computers, laptops, air conditioners and other office equipment.
At the time of the attack, Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief Mr. Victor Ifijeh, was among those trapped within the office while the fire raged on.
They were evacuated when men of Operation Mesa security outfit arrived.
Their arrival ended the free rein of the invaders.
It was obviously a targeted attack on the free press.
The Nation had been listed on Twitter and other social media platforms by sympathisers of the ongoing destructive activities, as a target of attack.
The Nation has robustly reported the protests fairly, giving voice to the agitation of youths for a better Nigeria.
The Management is at a loss as to why the company should be a target of such unwarranted attack.

ADENIYI ADESINA,
Editor, The Nation

At the last count, the following locations were attacked.

  1. Nigeria Port Authority, Lagos
  2. Orile Police Post, Lagos
  3. Lekki Toll Plaza, Lagos
  4. BRT Terminal, Oyingbo
  5. BRT Terminal, Ojodu, Lagos
  6. BRT Bus at Berger set ablaze
  7. Television Continental, Ketu, Lagos
  8. Lagos Television, Agidingbi, Ikejan
  9. Channels Television, Isheri
  10. The Nation newspaper, Matori
  11. VIO, FRSC Office, Ojodu – FRSC branded cars, generators set ablaze.
  12. Recreational Centre, Oregun, Lagos
  13. Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos burnt
  14. GTBank Branches – attacked
  15. Access Bank Branches – attacked
  16. Ajeromi Local Govt Secretariat
  17. Lagos-Island Local Govt destroyed
  18. Lagos-Island East LCDA Secretariat set on fire
  19. Lagos Mainland Local Govt Secretariat Destroyed
  20. Ibeju Lekki LCDA Secretariat destroyed
  21. Apapa – Iganmu LCDA burnt down.
  22. Oba’s Palace, Lagos – Sceptre of authority seized.
  23. Sanwo Olu Mother’s House, Surulere, Lagos
  24. Sanwoolu’s Uncle’s house, Lagos Island
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An earlier broadcast by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu, identified the attackers as “criminal elements”.

The full text of his broadcast is below:

Dear Lagosians,  

I address you today with a heavy heart as your Governor. I do so as a father and a brother. I do so as one who is touched by the infirmities and feelings of his people. I do so as a part of the collective humanity that we all share.

Yesterday’s events were no doubt some of the darkest gradients of our history as a State and as a people. As you are perhaps aware, I have been engaging the #EndSARS protesters since Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 October 2020 respectively.

We were making progress together though the pace was slow due to lack of an acceptable leadership amongst the #EndSARS protesters.

However, events took a different turn from Sunday 18, October 2020 as criminal elements took advantage of the firm orders handed down to the officers and men of the Nigerian Police not to resort to shooting as a rule of engagement.

In Ogolonto, armed gangs unleashed mayhem on one another. While this was happening, other criminal elements joined in attacking innocent citizens who were returning from church services. There were cases of robbery of citizens and rape of frightened women scampering for safety.

Other criminal elements in turn began to unleash terror on citizens in different parts of the State like Fagba in Ogba & Ebute Metta. In the Ebute Metta incident, 19 officers and men of our Rapid Response Squad (RRS) were severally injured by armed thugs in Adekunle, Ebute Metta.

The level of insecurity in different parts of the State became heightened with the multiple attacks on Police Stations.   The lawlessness blossomed into attacking and lynching of Police officers at Herbert Macaulay and Alapere areas of Lagos.

Things took a more dangerous turn on Tuesday 20th, 2020 when the Orile and Ilasamaja Police Stations were razed by arsonists.   Chaos took over as Ajeromi Local Government Area offices were completely burnt down and wanton destruction of property followed.

In the same Ajeromi Local Government Area, Ajegunle in particular, branches of financial institutions were looted and hoodlums attempted to gain access into the Tincan Island Ports.

For clarity, it is imperative to explain that no governor controls the rules of engagement of the army. I have nevertheless instructed an investigation into the ordered and the adopted rules of engagement employed by the men of the Nigerian Army deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate.

This is with a view to taking this up with the high command of the Nigerian Army and seek the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief to unravel the sequence of events that happened yesterday.

The leadership of our Ministry of Health led by the Honourable Commissioner, Professor Akin Abayomi worked through the night with different hospitals in Lekki and environ to monitor and provide support for the injured protesters.

In sensitivity with the mood of the nation at this time, I have directed the following:

1. The immediate suspension of all State activities for 3-days except those connected with governance of security in the State and the management of the current issue.

2. The lowering of the flags in all government establishments for 3-days.  

3. The constitution of a 5-man Fact-Finding Committee into the Rules of Engagement ordered & adopted by the Nigerian Army to be headed by a retired military officer not less than the rank of a General.

There are no excuses for the unfortunate incident that took place last night, and as the Governor, I apologize for every action and inaction. I would like you to know that I am for you, I am with you, and I understand that indeed you’re not happy with the turn of events last night.

I want to once again, and passionately from the depth of my heart appeal to our teeming youths, to our protesters that you should please give peace a chance. There have been several reported cases of arson, and of destruction of properties this morning.

We want to plead with parents, we want to appeal to guardians, I want to appeal to our citizens, especially our youths. I feel the pain, and I want to say once again that as your Governor, I will continue to ensure that every life does matter.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Governor, Lagos State

There has yet to be any statement from the Nigeria Police.

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