By Precious Igbowelundu, Alao Abiodun, Toba Adedeji, Osogbo; Segun Showunmi, Ibadan; Nwanosike Onu, Awka and Ogochukwu Anioke, Abakaliki

The police in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Edo Anambra, Ebonyi, and Plateau states on Tuesday announced measures to forestall today’s planned #EndSARS first anniversary protests.

In Lagos, policemen, soldiers and other security agents took over the Lekki Toll Gate, the centre of last year’s protests.

The tollgate has since October 20 last year remained shut after soldiers dispersed the protesters. The number of casualties has remained in the realm of conjecture.

The Defence Headquarters also reacted to the planned protests, saying no right-thinking person would want a repeat of the violent protests.

The Nation gathered that heavy presence of armed security operatives was also spotted last night in some parts of Lekki and other areas of the state.

The state Police Command had on Tuesday carried out a show-of-force to signal to the protesters to reiterate its warning against the protests.

The display, which was led by Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu, featured convoys of patrol vehicles, armoured tanks, water cannons, and other armaments.

After the show of force, Police spokesman Adekunle Ajisebutu said in a statement that only indoor or virtual events in commemoration of the #ENDSARS anniversary would be allowed by the police.

Ajisebutu explained that the command’s stance was as a result of plans by unknown or faceless groups to disrupt public peace.

The statement partly reads: “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 the same day.

“In view of the conflicting interest between the pro and anti-#EndSARS anniversary groups and threat to cause mayhem, the command once again warns both groups against any form of street protest between now and 20th October 2021 and beyond.

“The command will not stand aloof and allow the 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, we 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.”

Oyo:  Police warned that decisive sanctions awaited anybody that tries to truncate the relative peace in the state.

The police said they had unraveled plans by some people to embark on violent protests in parts of the state in commemoration of “one year anniversary of the unfortunate October #EndSARS.”

The Public Relations Officer, Adewale Osifeso, said in a statement that the police would not hesitate to use legitimate means to enforce sanity and prevent needless loss of lives and destruction of properties in the state.

He added that the Commissioner of Police, Ngozi Onadeko, had “directed extensive and aggressive patrol by Area commanders and Divisional Police Officers. “

He also said that “adequate deployment of operational, intelligence and tactical assets would be strategically positioned across every nook and cranny of the state to complement and neutralise any threat or act(s) capable of truncating the relative calm enjoyed by the citizenry.”

* Osun: The Police Command warned that it would arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons that embarked on the  #EndSARS anniversary protests.

Its  spokesperson,  Yemisi Opalola,  said in a statement: “The intelligence that availed the police command revealed clandestine plans by some youths/group of people to embark on protest in commemoration of one year anniversary of #EndSARS scheduled to hold October. 20.

“In view of this, the Commissioner of Police, Olawale Olokode, hereby warns individuals or group and their sponsor(s) to stop the plan or any of such action forthwith.

“The command will not allow a repeat of last year EndSARS saga and is fully prepared to use all legitimate means to avert such intending protest”

Edo: The state Police Command declared that “unlawful assembly by miscreants” will not be allowed by, in the guise of remembering October last year’s #EndSARS protests.

Its Spokesman, Bello Kontongs, said: “Edo police command earlier warned that there should be no #EndSARS protests’ remembrance in the state on Wednesday(today) or any other day.”

*Edo: The police said they are ready to confront errant miscreants that may want to cause a breach of the peace in the state.

“The police command in Edo is yet to be informed of any planned protest in the state this week or any other time. Any gathering of protesters will be treated as an unlawful assembly, while persons involved will be decisively dealt with, in accordance with the law,” it said.

*FCT: Commissioner of Police, Sunday Babaji, also told The Nation that the command was not aware of any protest in Abuja.

“We are not aware of the protest in Abuja. Nobody has informed us about any of such protests. I know that they want to hold one in Lekki and there is no Lekki in Abuja. We even called some of the activists on this issue and they refused to pick our calls,” Babaji added.

Anambra Like Abuja, the state Police Command said   it had not received a letter on any protest

The spokesman,  Ikenga Tochukwu, however, said that Policemen on patrol duties would not allow any form of destruction of lives and property in the state.

According to him, “though we’ve got any form of letter for the protest, the command is always at alert 24 hours. We are not afraid of anything” the PPRO said.

*Ebonyi: The command said it will not allow the organisers to hold their candlelight procession to commemorate the occasion.

The Spokesperson, Loveth Odah, said the gathering will not be allowed to hold.

“We don’t have any record of such letter. And we will not allow it. It can be hijacked by hoodlums to cause the breakdown of law and order”, the Command spokesman, Loveth Odah said.

*Plateau: Security was beefed up by the Police in Jos, the state capital, to forestall any breakdown of law and order. Police vans were sighted at the major junctions in Jos city, old airport roundabout, Hill station junction roundabout, and terminus roundabout.

Nigerians better informed now, says DHQ

The DHQ said Nigerians were now better informed and won’t be taken for a ride a second time.

Its Director of  Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Sawyerr, in a terse response to The Nation inquiry, stated that no one in his right sense would heed any call to gather again, considering the destruction that attended the #EndSARS protests last year.

Sawyerr said: “Do you think that with what the citizens went through during the unfortunate saga which saw wanton looting, destruction of public infrastructure, burning of private buildings, killing of police officers and men as well as allowing hoodlums to have a free day molesting innocent citizens, anyone in his right mind would contemplate heeding to the voice of sponsored agents for gathering again?

“I think even the citizens are now better informed that some people took them for a ride.”

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