Hundreds of worshippers on Sunday trekked long distances to get to their churches and back home as several youth blocked major roads in Benin City, Edo State, in continuation of the #EndSARS protests.
The protesters also blocked major entry and exit points in the ancient city thus forcing motorists to scout for alternative routes in and out of the city.
The protest in the Ekheuan area of Benin took a violent dimension as some hoodlums who posed as protesters attacked road users with sticks, clubs and hands, while others jumped in front of vehicles to demand for money before they were allowed to pass.
The entire stretch of the Auchi-Benin Road, by the Eyaen axis of the by-pass was blocked all the way to Aduwawa with only some commercial drivers chanting ‘Buhari must go’ driving dangerously through the road.
Another set of demonstrators took over the Benin–Lagos highway with some under the pedestrian bridge by the University of Benin main gate where they have been since Saturday. Another set moved from the main gate to Ageen Aluminum area of the road, thus making it impossible for anybody coming in or going out of the city to meander through the inner street roads.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that there have been reported cases of robberies, phone and handbag snatching by suspected hoodlums on Saturday night around Ring Road and Akpakpava areas of Benin City.
A journalist (name withheld), who was on transit along Ekheuan Road, had his car got damaged even when he explained to the protesters he was a reporter.
Businesses along that axis including petrol stations, car wash, barbers’ shops, provisions shops quickly closed their premises while the demonstrators had a free day playing football on the road, smoking and drinking.
A worshipper, who was returning from church, Kelvin Ibomah, said he confronted the hoodlums and urged them to stop harassing passersby.
One of the protesters, Tony Odiri said, “We are taking the future in our hands, today is our future, we are living it and we will get it right. I am from Delta State but I have lived all my life in Benin. Our agitation has gone beyond EndSARS.”
Meanwhile the police seemed helpless as many of them have deserted high profile politicians they are guarding.
As of Saturday, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that in some politicians’ residences and offices, it was men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, and Department of State Security that were sighted.
The few policemen that wore uniforms were of the Special Forces (SF) as regular policemen were absent.
At the first gate in the government house which was closed, only one policeman out of the five persons sighted.
A senior police officer told our reporter that they were helpless.
“The protesters say they are fighting against us, if we send our men there, it will be full attack,” he said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, said the police leadership was looking into the new developments and would come out with what would be done.