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Democracy: Police use teargas, bullets to disperse protesters in Lagos, Abuja, Calabar

By Moses Omorogieva, Lagos/George Odok, Calabar
June 12, 2021

A detachment of policemen on Saturday dispersed June 12 protesters from the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, Lagos State.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the police had stationed their patrol vehicles on the Ikorodu/Maryland Expressway, near the park, preventing people from entering the park.

NAN observed that the protesters numbering about 50, some of whom wore red berets, gathered on the expressway, chanting solidarity songs.

It was not certain under which umbrella they gathered.

A senior police officer, who pleaded anonymity, advised the protesters to be civil in their approach.

“I am not stopping you from protesting, but do it without inviting hoodlums to take over the protest,” he said.

The protesters, however, did not heed to the officer’s advice as they continued chanting solidarity songs.

This made policemen to release gunshots into the air, forcing the protesters to scamper in different directions for safety.

The leader of the police team told NAN that no one was arrested at Ojota.

“We only dispersed the protesters by firing into the air,” he said.

NAN reports that a group identified as Indigenes of Lagos, equally organised a protest against the planned June 12 protests.

“We are indigenes of Lagos. We don’t want trouble in Lagos again. We don’t want what happened during the EndSARS protest to happen again here.

“We want peace, not war. We are law-abiding citizens,” one of the leaders, who refused to have his name mentioned, told NAN.

The Commander of Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the state police command, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, who met with the latest protesters at noon, advised them to go about their lawful businesses.

He assured them of adequate security.

“Everyone is entitled to protest but the protest must be within the law.

“Everyone should go about his or her businesses.

“We are going round Lagos. There is no way for hoodlums to operate,” he said.

There were also pockets of protesters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, and the police also fired tear gas canisters to disperse them, especially in the Gudu area of the Federal Capital Territory.

In Cross River, the Police dispersed a group of protesters in Calabar, firing teargas at them, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

The incident happened around the Rabbana Roundabout and Atekong Junction on Saturday.

The security operatives, who were masked, rode into the areas in vehicles belonging to Operation Akpakwu.

The protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as: “Ayade pay owed salaries and pensions”, “Ayade fix our roads”, Ayade change your style of governance”, among others.

One of the protesters, Mr Timothy Ushang, told NAN in an interview that the protest was going on peacefully when the policemen fired tear gas canisters at them.

According to him, the essence of the protest is to draw government’s attention to areas that needed urgent intervention in the state.

Another protester, Mr Dominic Akan, told NAN that it was their constitutional right to embark on a peaceful protest.

“We don’t know why security operatives used tear gas on us during the peaceful protest. We are protesting against bad governance and things that have gone bad in the state.

“Our fathers and mothers have been owed pensions and gratuities for a long period of time, our roads are bad; these are some of the things that we need the governor to address urgently,” he said.

A NAN Correspondent who went round major areas in Calabar metropolis, observed that there was heavy presence of security operatives.

In an interview with NAN, the Assistant Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Igri Ewa, said the police command would not tolerate any unlawful gathering, protest or procession.

He said such gatherings could be hijacked by hoodlums, if not properly managed, hence the need for the police to provide adequate security to forestall any unforeseen incident.

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