By Leonard Okachie
Umuahia, Oct. 21, 2020 A group of #EndSARS protesters in Umuahia on Wednesday defied the state government’s curfew and returned to the major streets of the city, forcing anti-riot policemen to retreat to the station.
The police authorities had deployed its operatives to strategic locations in the city to enforce the 24-hour curfew and put an end to the protest, which turned violent on Tuesday in Umuahia and Aba.
A Correspondent who monitored the situation in Umuahia on Wednesday reports that heavily armed anti-riot police team had positioned their Hilux Van around the Umuahia Tower, near the Post Office.
They blocked the roundabout leading to Aba Road, Bende Road and Umuwaya Road, while others were seen at Azikiwe Junction/Aba Road, FMC Junction/Akanu Ibiam Road, leading to the Government House and Bank Road, amongst other points.
Their presence caused panic and stampede in some areas and disrupted human and vehicular movements, while some residents resorted to trek long distances.
There was, however, a mild drama at the Umuahia Tower about midday, when a group of protesters, bearing a banner with an inscription #EndSARS, stormed the place and accosted the armed operatives.
They chanted songs, saying, “Kill us”,
“How many youths will police kill?”, “You will kill us tire.”
Naija247news reports that the more the policemen tried to ward them off, the more the protesters moved toward them.
Sensing a possible attack by the protesters with the atmosphere getting tensed, the policemen quickly mobilised themselves, jumped into their waiting van and sped off.
The protesters, however, pursued them and pelted them with stones and other dangerous weapons.
The protesters later proceeded to other locations in the city to force the police out of the streets.
Naija247news reports that banks, offices, business centres and shops remained closed in the early hours of the day in compliance with the curfew.
However, normalcy began to return in the city with the exit of the anti-riot operatives as residents and motorists returned to the streets, while some shops re-opened for business.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi-Kalu, has condemned the alleged torching of the historical Aba Town Hall and two police stations in the city.
Okiyi-Kalu also frowned at the alleged attack on an Aba branch of First Bank and blamed the dastardly act in the wake of the protests on hoodlums.
He expressed worry that the hitherto peaceful protest against police brutality had been hijacked by hoodlums and unscrupulous elements.