But for the timely intervention of the organisers of the #EndSARS protest in Benin City, Edo State capital, hoodlums, bidding under the 12-day old agitation, on Sunday, took over the struggle and mounted barricades in several parts of the city, extorting motorists and road users.
The roadblocks, were set up at locations far away from the convergent points of the original #EndSARS protesters, thus making it easy for the hoodlums to operate freely before the information filtered into the camps of the demonstrating youths, who immediately rose to the occasion.
The ugly incidents, it was further gathered led to a strategic meeting, called by the real protesters, who tinkered with the idea of suspending the protest for the rest of the night till Monday morning when they hoped to reconvene.
While the hoodlums’ reign of terror lasted, several motorists and other road users were left stranded at various parts of the ancient city such as the Aduwawa end of the Auchi-Benin road, the pedestrian bridge at the University of Benin, UNIBEN, end of the Benin-Lagos expressway: the Kings Square, also known as Ring Road; Akpakpava and Sokponba Road; 2nd Junction axis of New Benin; Igbesanmwan, and Murtala Muhammed Way, MM Way, and were forced to part with money before they were allowed to pass.
One of the motorists, who was driving a Toyota Lexus car, panicked on sighting the hoodlums and reportedly rammed into the crowd, injuring now fewer than four persons, who were said to be currently receiving treatment at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH.
With the development, organisers of the protest mobilised and went round, dismantling all the blockades in the city set up by the hoodlums and created free passages for the members of the public.
One of the protesters said that the real protesters would not allow miscreants to criminalise the otherwise peaceful protest.
“It has come to our notice that bad elements whose stock in trade are to always criminally exploit Nigerian masses whenever there exists, a genuine struggle or protest like the one that is correctly happening in Edo State and Nigeria at large, are molesting people in Benin City,” he volunteered.
“We have started instructing our people to dismantle the roadblocks at the different locations in the city to avoid further casualties. To this end, we have resolved to track and apprehend the bad elements ripping off people belongings and money during and after the protest, while local security is correctly being assembled to deal with the ugly happenings,” he added.
He apologised to those who had fallen victims of the activities of the hoodlums, sating: “We are sorry my Edo and Nigeria people for what you might have encountered in the hands of bad elements who hide under our genuine struggle to perpetuate their criminal acts.”
A journalist with one of the electronic media houses in the city, who was stranded as a result of the development, said it was unfortunate that such happened in Benin City.
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