The violence which erupted after hoodlums hijacked the EndSARS protests in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, on Thursday, reportedly claimed two lives and led to the destruction of properties worth millions of naira.
Protests had rocked the state capital since last Thursday with demonstrators blocking major roads, including the popular Ibom Plaza, and demanding an end to the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), justice for victims of police brutality, and a reform of the police force.
One person was allegedly shot dead at Barracks Road by officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), 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 vehicle 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 prisons 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 clergyman with the African Church. He was said to be returning from an evening service when the bullet hit him.
No one was shot by our officers – NCS
The NCS, Akwa Ibom State Command, has refuted allegations linking it with the death of one of the protesters and claimed 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 forment 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 destruction 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 multibillion naira Ibom Specialist Hospital was one of the public establishments targeted during the mayhem. 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, The Choice, was vandalised and looted by hoodlums, many of whom were seen grabbing items and running out of the mall. A 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 vandalised. Icon Mobile, Cold Stone Creamery & Domino’s Pizza, Kilimanjaro were not left out of the plundering.
Banks were similarly affected as the rampaging hoodlums reportedly broke into the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) branch on Abak Road, vandalising 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 were 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 during the chaos.
When contacted, the Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer, MacDon Odiko, confirmed the incidents, stating that the police had begun investigations.
“Investigations are on. Expect a press release soon,” he said.
State government imposes curfew
Following the recent developments, the Akwa Ibom State Government has announced a curfew in the state. The curfew which was initially scheduled to last from 9p.m. on Thursday, October 22, till 12p.m, on Friday, October 23, was extended till 7a.m, on Saturday, October 24, 2020.
According to a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, 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.
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