Armed thugs swooped in on peaceful protesters camped outside the headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monday morning, several of the protesters have told PREMIUM TIMES.
The protesters had set up their camps outside the CBN building on Sunday, with the intention to block the bank’s staff from accessing their offices until their demands are met.
However, at about 4 a.m on Monday, the thugs struck.
Gabriel Igbide, a nail technician, who was at the protest when the attack happened, said they had received information that the thugs were coming in a convoy.
He told PREMIUM TIMES that their protest was peaceful until the attack happened. He added that they had already spoken with the police and soldiers around the bank and began their protest, careful not to encroach into the space of the security agents.
“Before we knew it, the boys came, we did not know where they came from, they came in about six to seven buses,” Mr Igbide said.
“When they came, there were a few of us left. The thugs came with guns, cutlasses, knives, and daggers.”
He said as they began attacking, the protesters ran for their lives.
Mr Igbide added that the disc jockey’s equipment and truck was set ablaze by the thugs and some protesters sustained injuries while fleeing.
Another protester, Camillus Titus, said they had intended to camp outside the CBN until Monday.
“Around past midnight we got intel that some hoodlums were approaching to disrupt the protest, so we plucked sticks and waited for them,” Mr Titus said.
“Around four in the morning, these guys arrived in their numbers with different kinds of weapons you can imagine. Immediately the first guy came down from the car, he started shooting; he carried a pump-action shotgun, he was shooting and the others were shouting ‘Allah Akbar.’
“We ran as they came after us, everybody scattered; they burned down our DJ’s vehicle. We went to the police but they did not do anything, they just stood there watching these guys burn down our vehicles; they even asked us to run.”
PREMIUM TIMES spoke to the DJ, Barnabas Onunke, who said he lost his laptop, his speakers, microphones, generator, and his car.
He added that the police watched as the thugs came after them and burnt down his equipment and they did nothing about it.
Isaac Okoroafor, the CBN spokesperson, did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
The incident came days after a group of foreign internet activists hacked the bank’s website. The central bank, however, denied the cyber attack.
The #EndSARS protests, which began nearly two weeks ago, seeking an end to police brutality, have continued to spread across the country.
At least 12 people have been killed and police authorities, last week, warned against the use of force against protesters.