Law & JusticeNigeriaSpecial ReportThe Other Side of the Attack on the Osun State Governor, and the Politics

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For about two weeks now, Nigerian youths have been protesting against police brutality and extra-judicial killings that were often fronted by a police unit referred to as Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad popularly known as SARS.

The government on the other hand had responded to the protest by announcing the disbandment of the police unit. However, the protests continued with protesters arguing that it could be an “audio announcement’ as this is not the first time the government would make such an announcement.

Also, the protesters had demanded 5-of-5 demands from the government, some of which included bringing the SARS Operatives involved in the extrajudicial killings forth for justice, compensating the families of the victims of the killings by the SARS operatives, increasing police salaries to curb bribery in the police institutions.

The government in its response asked the state governors to set up committees to investigate series of extrajudicial killings in their respective states with the view of bringing justice for the victims of police brutality.

EndSARS protesters in Warri.

However, the protesters had decided to stay on the streets, saying that until they see all their demands being implemented before leaving the streets.

Some of the protesters have alleged that the government is planning to sponsor thugs to attacked protesters, use that as an excuse to bring the military against the peaceful protesters, and argue that the protests turn violence which necessitated the need to use the military.

Following these allegations, there are reports of allegations of hoodlums attacking protesters in some cities, most especially in Lagos and Abuja. The attacks were repealed by the protesters and they resumed their protests.

The Osun Protest Turned Violence Following an Attack on the Governor

However, the story of the Osun protest was different from other states, following a reported attack on the state governor.

The attack on the governor was immediately accompanied by the Nigerian military announcing the launching of operation crocodile tears across the country.

According to vanguard, “The protesters had told Governor Oyetola their demands and sought the arrest of one Asiri Eniba, who had attacked them on Wednesday and earlier in the day (Saturday).”

 “Meanwhile, the governor had pledged to set up a panel in line with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, to investigate SARS brutality and will also summon the Commissioner of Police, Undie Adie, to brief him of happenings while he (governor) was away.”

 “He added that anyone found culpable in the attack against them would be dealt with accordingly.”

The response of the governor to affirm that the state arrest Asiri Eniba and question him did not go down well with the people. 

According to the Vanguard, some people identified as infiltrating hoodlums became aggressive and started stoning the vehicles, including that of the governor, smashing their windscreens and windows.

Speaking with an eyewitness, who did not want his name to be mentioned, identified the contributing factors to the attack on the governor to the on-going cult clashes in Osogbo, Osun State Capital; and the institution of “state boys.” 

He also said that no protest had gone beyond 6pm since the youths have started protesting in the state capital. Alleging that Asiri Eniba was popularly known to be working for the politicians and thus, the people demanded his arrest and questioning. 

He also alleged that the clashing cult groups and thugs working for politicians were responsible for the attacks on the governor and his convoy, the looting of the shopping mall in which the video had gone viral. 

Speaking with a human rights lawyer in Osogbo, Barrister Misbaudeen Lateef, he condemned the attack, adding that the protesters have the right to exercise their fundamental human rights to protest and called on the Nigerian police to properly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice. 

He said, “it is the duty of the police, in conjunction with the DSS to find out or fish out the criminal elements and then deal with them, the images that we saw were not interesting.”

One of the protesters who also spoke with West African Pilot News, Quadri Adelowo, confirmed that their protest was hijacked. Alleging that the governor’s refusal to respond to the request of the protesters in arresting the hijackers angered the protesters. 

He added that their anger was seen as an opportunity by the “ruffians” to attack the governor. 

Speaking with another human rights lawyer in Osogbo, Johnson Amusan, he said that the protesters were first attacked on Friday and that the governor refused to address the situation, adding that it was what necessitated that calling for the arrest of the leader of the thug. 

According to him, “it was alleged that the governor went to address the protesters on Saturday with the leader of the thug, and the protesters asked him if you’re not the one who sponsored the attack last Friday, so why did you come with the leader of the suspected thugs, they now asked the governor to arrest him and others. 

“The governor said he cannot arrest any person until he met with the commissioner of police in the state, he won’t arrest anybody.”

He also alleged that “there are two factions of thugs in Osun state, the one use by the previous administration (i.e Rauf Aregbesola, now Minister of Interior) and the one using by the current administration.”

He alleged that the leaders of these thug groups were Asiri Iberu and “The Law”. He added that The Law was used by the last administration while Asiri Iberu was being used by the current administration, noting that the two groups had often been clashing in the state. 

FG Blames the #EndSARS Protest Going on Across the Country as the Cause of the Attack 

The Federal Government in its reaction to the development said it would not allow the country to be thrown into a state of anarchy. 

Anambra State governor Willie Obiano address ENDSARS protesters in Awka.

The FG had fingered the attacked on the Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, and the blocking of major business roads across the major cities in the country to speak against the ongoing #EndSARS protest across the country. 

Speaking through the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, on Saturday, the minister said the protest had been hijacked by hoodlums and people with ulterior agenda. 

He said, “Peaceful protest is an integral part of democracy and that is why the Federal Government in the last 11 days has treated the protesters in a very civilized manner.

“But, if you look at what happened to the governor of Osun State, it has gone completely beyond peaceful protest against excesses and abuse of power by the police.

“There is nowhere in the world where a government will fold its arms and allow the country to descend into anarchy.

“We are no longer dealing with #EndSARS but a volatile situation that can lead to anarchy if the government does not take some very firm steps to protect the lives and livelihood of innocent Nigerians.”

Oyetola Said Suspected Political Thugs Attacked Him 

On the contrary, the Osun State Governor said that the #EndSARS protest in Osogbo, the state capital was hijacked by suspected political thugs.

In a state broadcast, the governor said suspected political thugs attacked him at the scene of the protest at Olaiya Junction and not youths protesting the brutality by the defunct SARS operatives.

He added that the incident would be investigated with the view of bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Oyetola said, “The attempt which was carried out by political thugs was pre-planned and our government shall investigate the matter with a view of bringing the perpetrators of this heinous act to book.

“As the Chief Security Officer of the state, we shall ensure that lives and properties of our people shall be protected and anybody found culpable of causing unrest shall be made to face the wrath of the law.”

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