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Police bans EndSARS anniversary protest, other demonstrations across Lagos

By Idowu Abdullahi

Hopes of youths across Lagos State preparing to honor young Nigerians who allegedly lost their lives during last year protest against police brutality and extra-judicial killings may have been dashed after the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Lagos Command banned EndSARS protest and other demonstrations across the state.

The command warned youth against staging any planned demonstration in commemorating the one year anniversary of protest against brutality, harassments, extortion and extra-judicial allegedly perpetrated by disbanded unit of the force, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), in the state.

The Command’s Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, said that the directive become imperative after the command’s attention was drawn to a post being circulated on the social media insinuating that the police in Lagos have agreed to allow street protests in commemoration of the one year EndSARS anniversary on 20th October, 2021.

Ajisebutu, through a statement on Tuesday, clarified that contrary to the report, the police would only allow an indoor and virtual event in commemoration of the EndSARS anniversary and would provide adequate security at the venue if known, adding that the move was in recognition of rights of every Nigerian to express his or her interest.

According to him, we wish we could permit such street protests. However, intelligence at our disposal has revealed plans by some faceless groups or individuals to stage an anti-EndSARS anniversary protest in the state same day.

Further justifying the command’s reluctance, Ajisebutu said that the move was in view of the conflicting interest between the pro and anti-EndSARS anniversary groups and threat to cause mayhem, urging both groups against any form of street protest between now and 20th October, 2021 and beyond.

“It is acknowledged that citizens have the right to peaceful protests. However, in this instance having carried out a critical security assessment and intelligence report at the disposal of the Lagos Command in respect of the planned protests and attendant implications on public safety, the Command considers it inappropriate to allow such protests to hold. It will not stand aloof and allow breakdown of law and order which the protests may cause.

“To avoid a recurrence of the gory protests of last year during which some innocent Nigerians including police officers were gruesomely murdered, private and public property plundered and maliciously destroyed, the police will not abdicate their responsibilities of protection of lives and property by allowing such avoidable incident happen again in the state

“Therefore, in the interest of security and public safety, the Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, wishes to warn the organisers of the protests that the police will deploy all legitimate means to stop or neutralise the planned protests.

“Parents, guardians are admonished to warn their children against participating in the protests. Similarly, youths and other individuals or groups planning to take part in the protests are further warned in their own interest to shelve the plan,” the statement said.

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