The Commissioner of Police (CP) in charge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bala Ciroma, has said that those who attacked #EndSARS protesters in Abuja on Wednesday were not thugs but counter-protesters who are in support of the disbanded controversial police unit
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how protesters who converged on Berger roundabout of the city to continue their protest for police reforms, were attacked by thugs who destroyed five vehicles and also injured some of the protesters.
In a reaction, however, Mr Ciroma said it was jot an attack but a clash between two groups who disagree.
“At the beginning, there were convergence of protesters at Berger roundabout,” the police commissioner was quoted as saying in Abuja by the News Agency of Nigeria.
“Later, we discovered that the protesters were divided into two, those protesting against SARS and those against ending SARS.
“While we deployed our men to ensure law and order, these groups came into the arena, and before we knew it, there was hot exchanges between the groups.”
Mr Ciroma said the timely intervention of his officers prevented the situation from deteriorating.
The police commissioner also said no casualty was recorded, noting, however, that five vehicles were vandalised.
He also said that no protester was arrested, not even those who destroyed the vehicles or injured other protesters.
He said the command had commenced investigation to determine what led to the violence that got many injured in the protest.
According to him, ”we have deployed quite a number of our men to the various parts of the city.”
He called for calm to allow economic activities return to normal in the Nigerian capital.
How Protesters Were Attacked
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how the EndSARS protesters who were demonstrating in Abuja were attacked by a group of assailants Wednesday afternoon.
Protesters calling for police reform gathered for a seventh day of protest Thursday morning at the Berger roundabout of the Nigerian capital.
The protesters were largely peaceful but blocked the roads leading to the roundabout.
However, around 1 p.m., a large group of men converged on the protesters wielding wooden clubs and other weapons.
Several protesters told this reporter that there was an initial moment of confusion among the crowd as the group of young men did not identify themselves. The mood quickly changed when the assailants began breaking the windscreens of parked cars and attacking the #EndSARS protesters.
One of the medics stationed at the protests, who identified himself as Dr. Jay, explained to PREMIUM TIMES that the men were deliberately targeting protesters, including a woman who had to be rushed to the Jabi Medical Center after receiving blows to the head.
Determined to stand their ground, a group of protesters turned on the assailants, seriously injuring several of them. The injured assailants were also treated by the medical team.
Two of the injured assailants were then driven by the ambulances to a nearby hospital.
The #EndSARS protest
There have been series of protests in several parts of the country calling for the dissolution of a controversial police unit, SARS, and end to police brutality.
The protests have led to a number of casualties with several others injured. Amnesty International put the figure of those who have died so far, at least , as 10.
Apart from the attack on protesters in Abuja, protesters in Lagos were also attacked by hoodlums on Wednesday. In both cases, the attacked protesters said they believe their attackers were sponsored by people sympathetic to the federal government.
In their separate reactions to the protests, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has disbanded SARS and replaced them with Special Weapons And Tactics Team while President Muhammadu Buhari has promised extensive police reforms.
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