The largely youthful crowd attending today’s protest in Abuja continued their march in spite of being chased from their initial route around the National Assembly.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that #EndSARS protesters who had converged peacefully at a junction leading to the National Assembly had been violently chased away by members of the Nigerian military.
However, undeterred by the violent reaction of security forces, the protesters regrouped to occupy the normally busy Transcorp Hilton Hotel junction for several hours.
A small number of police officers stood by watching as protesters blocked the streets and chanted slogans calling for widespread police reform across the country.
Although the anger of protestors has been palpable, the mood remained upbeat and the violence witnessed at Monday’s protest in Lagos was largely avoided.
Volunteers handed out free water and snacks; there was loud music playing from speakers; and young people sang along to popular songs together.
The protests continue despite the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, disclosing new reforms in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
The Inspector-General of Police (I-G), Mohammed Adamu, has set up a new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to fill the gaps created by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) dissolution.
The country has been rocked by protests by irate youth against the brutality of the notorious police unit (SARS) in recent days. The protest has led to the deaths of at least 10 persons.
Despite the disbandment of the unit, submission of demands by the protesters, and the promise of extensive reforms by President Muhammadu Buhari and the police hierarchy, the protesters have refused to leave the nation’s streets.
Despite the government’s overtures, weary protesters expressed a lack of confidence in the process.
Expressing her distrust in the president’s affirmation, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, one young protester in Abuja said, “they are not going to take down the unit; they are not going to pull their men from the road; and if they are not going to do that, we are ready to stay on the streets until they do”.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the presidential panel on police reform Tuesday approved the 5-point demand called upon by protesters, including the unconditional release of all arrested protesters and a halt to the use of violence by security personnel at protests.
It remains to be seen whether the protests, which have been growing by the day, will continue.