The violence which erupted after hoodlums hijacked the #EndSARS protests in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital last Thursday, has reportedly claimed two lives and led to the destruction of properties worth millions of naira.
Protests have rocked the state capital since Friday 16th October, with demonstrators blocking major roads, including the popular Ibom Plaza, demanding an end to the now-disbanded SARS unit, justice for victims of police brutality and a reform of the police force.
One person was reportedly shot dead at Barracks Road by officers of the Nigerian Correctional Services, while the other victim died after he was hit by a stray bullet at Aka Road.
According to an eyewitness who identified himself as Imeh David, the correctional officers were transporting inmates in a prison van, when they were accosted by a group of protesters.
“The protesters blocked the road and stopped the prison van from moving. One of the officers came down and fired his gun, killing one of the boys on the spot,” Imeh said.
“When the prison people shot, everyone ran away. It was after we discovered that the bullet killed somebody,” said Ndifreke, another eyewitness.
The other victim, a middle-aged man, died after he was reportedly hit by a stray bullet at Aka Road. The deceased has been identified as Iniobong Lyons, a clergy with the African Church. He was said to be returning from an evening service when he was hit.
No One Was Shot By Our Officers – Nigerian Correctional Service
The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Akwa Ibom State Command, has refuted allegations linking it to the death of one of the protesters, saying no one was shot by its officers.
The Public Relations Officer of NCS in the state, Ogbajie Ogbajie, asked the public to disregard the information, describing it as false and mischievous.
“That is propaganda from some people who are just trying to foment trouble. Our men were attacked on their way to Ikot Ekpene custodial centre. But no correctional officer shot anybody,” he said.
“We have checked their firearms and they are intact. Discountenance that information.”
Looting and Wanton Destruction of Government & Private Properties by Hoodlums
Public facilities and private businesses in Uyo were attacked, vandalised and looted by hoodlums following the death of a protester on Barracks Road, who was allegedly shot by an officer of the Nigerian Correctional Service.
The multi-billion Naira Ibom Specialist Hospital was one of the public establishments targeted during the inferno. The vandals also looted and torched an Administrative Block at the Akwa Ibom State Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC), the Anchor Insurance House which houses the Akwa Ibom State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (AKPHCDA), as well as the State Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A popular mall known as The Choice was vandalised and looted by hoodlums, many of whom were seen grabbing items and running out of the mall. Part of the building was also set ablaze.
At the LG showroom on Ikot Ekpene Road, electronic appliances were carted away, while others that could not be moved were vandalized. Icon Mobile, Cold Stone Creamery & Domino’s Pizza, Kilimanjaro were not left out of the plundering.
Banks were not left out of the plundering, as the rampaging hoodlums reportedly broke into the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) branch on Abak road, vandalizing no fewer than two Automated Teller Machines and carting away an undisclosed amount of money.
An Access Bank branch on Aka Road was also attacked. Although there are no reports of a break-in or looting, a section of the bank building was set on fire.
Many cars were also vandalised and set ablaze by the hoodlums while the inferno lasted.
When contacted, the Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr MacDon Odiko confirmed the incidents, stating that the police had begun investigations.
“Investigations are on. Expect a press release soon,” he said.
Akwa Ibom State Government Imposes Curfew
Following the developments, the Akwa Ibom State Government announced a curfew in the state. The curfew which was initially scheduled to last from 9 pm on Thursday 22nd October till 12 pm on Friday 23rd October, was extended till 7 am on Saturday, 24th October 2020.
According to a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Ini Ememobong, the decision was “due to developing situations being monitored by the state government and security agencies and the inevitable need to protect citizens and property, based on overriding public interest.”
“This curfew has a statewide effect. Expectedly, there will be a total cessation of movement, except for those on essential duties, who must show proper identification.”
“All law-abiding citizens are advised to remain at home, as security agencies have been briefed to strictly enforce this order,” the statement read.
(This report was supported with funding from Gatefield Impact)
Investigative Journalism And Public Relations At A Crossroad In Nigeria
To enable us to understand the concept of public relations in its simplest form, Dr Cosmos Eze during one of…
WPFD2021: In Defense of Press Freedom in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government,…