The ongoing #EndSARS in Benin City has gone awry as alleged hoodlums have broken into the Benin Correctional Centre and freed some inmates in one of the cells.
This has compelled the Edo State Government to impose a curfew in the ancient city to address.
PREMIUM TIMES learned that the hoodlums, numbering over 100, broke open one of the cells and freed several inmates in the process.
Several persons sustained gunshot injuries as an armed squad of prison officials engaged the suspected hoodlums in a gun duel.
The hoodlums also destroyed and vandalised some sections of the High Court 4 premises located few meters beside the prison.
They had earlier gathered along Sapele Road beside the prison as early as 7 a.m., setting bonfires and sending back road users particularly motorists.
The hoodlums launched the attack moments their number increased considerably.
They broke part of the high wall while some climbed the fence into the prison yard.
A few of the inmates escaped with gunshots while an elderly man was recaptured while walking away like a passer-by.
The Edo State Government has imposed a 24-hour curfew across the state until further notice.
According to a statement by Osarodion Ogie, the Secretary to the State Government, the curfew is to take effect from 4 pm, October 19, 2020.
It stated, “This decision has become necessary because of the very disturbing incidents of vandalism and attacks on private individuals and institutions by hoodlums in the guise of #ENDSARS protesters.
“While the government of Edo State respects the rights of its citizens to undertake legitimate protests, it cannot sit idly when hoodlums have taken laws into their hands to cause mayhem on innocent citizens and the state.
“By the directive, schools and businesses are to shut down activities accordingly. Those who cannot move safely are to stay put between now and 4 pm till calmness is restored.
“Parents are advised to rein in their children, youths, and wards, to forestall further breakdown of law and order. The responsibility of government is to protect lives and property and maintain law and order, therefore, anyone found outside in violation of the curfew would be dealt with according to the law.”
Workers, traders stay at home
The EndSARS protesters early Monday morning took residents of Benin City and other towns by storm as they set bonfires and blockades along major highways and streets.
Motorists found it impossible to pass through the spots on the roads due to the intensity of the bonfires with tyres with huge balls of fire while benches and other hardwoods were used to block all the link roads leading to the City centre otherwise known as Ring road.
Markets, banks, schools, shops, and business centres were completely shut down as early as 8 am while hordes of traders and market women who have attempted to resume normal activities were left stranded.
Meanwhile, most of the young traders were seen playing football within the market premises while others embarked on physical exercises.
The latest action took both residents and motorists by surprise as movements were restricted to and from the various areas of the capital town over the fear of attacks by suspected hoodlums.
The worrisome situation was a continuation of the occurrences that took place on Sunday with many motorists and residents losing valuables and properties to criminal elements who under the guise of protesters hijacked the process in parts of the City.
Thousands of angry youth have in the past few days been protesting against Police brutality and bad governance in the country despite the assurances for necessary reforms by the government.
The protesting youths stormed the streets as early as 7.30 am, setting up blockades at different intervals.
Areas most affected by the bonfires and Blockades include Sapele road, Akpakpava, New Lagos Road, New Benin-Mission road, Forestry, Mission roads, Ekenwan road, Second Eat Circular road, Ugbowo, Aduwawa-Benin-Auchi road, and Siluko road as well as several others.
On Ekenwan Road, from Agho Junction to the popular Ekenwan Military Barracks, the youth converged on Evbotubu Junction, Utagban Junction; First and Second Power Line Junctions; Debvekewen Junction; Leaders College Junction; Ugbihoko Primary School; Aghewwenghe and Uholo, in what turned out to be protested by youths in their various localities.
However, residents appear helpless as the main town is on complete lockdown as protest networks almost every nook and crannies of the capital town.
READ ALSO: #EndSARS: Hoodlums attack Lagos protesters
Other areas also affected include Airport Road, Akenzua/Plymouth Road, Ring Road, First, Second, and Third East roads.
The protesters with placards chanted “No to SARS” and “Buhari must go”.
Sadly, circulation vans of the various newspaper Organisations entering Benin City had a tough time passing the blockades along the ever-busy Ugbowo end of the Benin-Lagos expressway, where the blockades have stretched up to the Ovia River axis, about several kilometres away from the University of Benin, UNIBEN, main gate.
Also, civil servants, artisans, and traders remained trapped as they had difficulties leaving their homes.
When contacted, the state Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, declined to speak.