A group of furious thugs have attacked Nigerians protesting against police brutality and killings in Abuja.
Armed with cutlasses and other weapons, the irate thugs streamed into the protest venue at Berger junction moments after the #EndSARS protesters had convened.
Apart from harrassing the protesters, including passers-by, the gaggle of thugs destroyed vehicles parked in the area.
At least five cars were destroyed, while an unconfirmed number of the protesters sustained injuries.
The protesters, however, regrouped within minutes and started chasing the thugs away.
MOMENT Pro-SARS Agitators Attack #EndSARS Protesters In Abuja
One of them was caught and beaten to near-death, with serious injuries inflicted on his head and limbs.
Two of those at the scene claimed the attackers were “Fulani youth,” TheCable reports, but noted that the thugs’ identities had not been independently confirmed.
“The Fulani youth arrived as we were gathered here and started chasing everybody with matchet and destroying cars,” a protester who identified himself as Andrew was quoted as saying.
Another protester alleged the attackers were sponsored, saying: “The police failed to stop us and now they are sponsoring thugs. This is just the beginning.”
Anjuguri Manzah, a spokesman of the FCT police command, did not immediately respond to enquiries regarding the incident.
The protest is part of a nationwide #EndSARS movement which started as an opposition against the now-dissolved special anti-robbery squad (SARS) of the Nigeria police force, notorious for abuse of human rights.
Now in its seventh day, the agitations follow demands for the police and federal government to among other things, ensure justice for victims of police brutality and release all arrested protesters.
Wednesday’s incident comes just hours after thugs were cited destroying cars at midnight in Yaba, Lagos.
Protests Continue, Nigerians Demand #EndSWAT
The Wednesday’s protest is being driven with a new hashtag #EndSWAT.
It follows the decision of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to set up a new unit called the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, to replace the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Unit (SARS).
According to the protesters, the agitation continues because the decision to immediately replace SARS operatives with SWAT is hasty and unpremeditated.
“All hashtags remain valid towards the struggle. Be vigilant. This is about all of us. We are all in pains right now but don’t let those we have lost die in vain. I saw the SWAT thing. Hasty. But will address,” #EndSARS convener, Segun Awosanya, popularly known as Segalinks tweeted on Tuesday morning.
At the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, some of the protesters can be seen chanting songs of solidarity and demonstrating despite the early morning rain.
The protesters said the agitation continues until all their five demands are met. According to them, measures have been put in place to measure the progress and how the demands are met.
The five demands include the immediate release of all arrested protesters; justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families and setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days).
Other demands include psychological evaluation and retraining of all disbanded SARS before they can be redeployed and an increase in police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting the lives and property of citizens.
Meanwhile, the presidential panel on Tuesday approved the demands of #SARSMUSEND protesters, including halting the use of force against protesters and the unconditional release of arrested citizens.
The five-point demands of the protesters were okayed at a forum convened by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the National Human Rights Commission, with stakeholders, a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said.
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Pro-SARS Thugs Attack #EndSARS Protesters in Abuja, Repelled As Suspects Caught Are Taken to Hospital