The long-awaited Memorial protest to commemorate the #EndSARS protest and events of 20 October 2020 was set in motion by youths and activists across several states in the country at approximately  0820 hours today, 20 October 2021.

Ahead of the demonstrations and events of today, several reports of substantial GSF presence, particularly at the Lekki toll gate, was observed. This was allegedly done to clamp down on demonstration gatherings in the state, as well as a result of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police’s utterances.

In a press statement released by the Lagos State Police, the commissioner said,

Parents and guardians are admonished to warn their children against participating in the protests. Similarly, youths and other individuals or groups planning to take part in the protests are further warned in their interest to shelve the plan

The protest was reactivated at last year’s epicentre being Lekki Tollgate in Eti Osa Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos State. Youths and individuals from various Nigerian cities and towns marched with flags, placards, and banners bearing messages such as ONE YEAR AFTER EndSARS MASSACRE, VICTIMS YET TO GET JUSTICE“, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET 20.10.20

           People at the Lekki memorial

#EndSARSMemorial. Protest motorcades, conveying protesters which included celebrities and influencers, drove through toll gates, waving Nigerian flags and chanting solidarity songs while honking their horns.

At around 0903 hrs., apprehension of demonstrators by Government Security Forces (GSF) began, a short time after they arrived at the tollgate. According to additional accounts, some journalists were arrested because they did not possess a means of identification. A statement made by the Lagos State Police Commissioner backed up this claim saying,

They said one journalist was arrested, he didn’t have ID card but his colleagues have identified him and I have said they should release him and he is here now. We are just being fair to everyone,

However, tensions rose at the demonstration site a few hrs. into the protest, at approx 1143 hrs., after multiple discharges of tear gas canisters were fired at demonstrators in an attempt to disperse protesters along the path. The situation around the Lekki toll gate rapidly escalated as protesters and onlookers scamped for safety.

Similarly in Abuja, the protest was led by the convener of the #RevolutionNow movement, Omoyele Sowore and an activist identified as Deji Adeyanju. The protest at the Federal Capital Territory was held at Unity Fountain on Shehu Shagary Express Way in the Central Business District (CBD). The demonstrators marched towards the Ministry of Justice building in Maitama a few minutes later at around 1110 hrs., where they were met by a significant GSF presence deployed to prevent protesters from continuing their demonstrations towards other sensitive Government buildings in the area particularly the National Assembly 2 kilometres away. This resulted in a verbal face-off between protesters and GSFs.

Intel regarding an ongoing counter-demonstration at the Unity Fountain was received at approx 1315 hours. According to reports, the youths whose numbers were less than fifteen (15) arrived at the venue of the protest after the Sowore-led protesters left the venue with banners dubbed as EndSARS was an insurrection against the STATE, The promoters of EndSARS are after Unconstitutional change of Government!!!“, “Lekki Shooting Was A Hoax, Nobody Died, One Year After, Where Are The Bodies“.  

In like manner, demonstrations, as well as heavy GSF presence, were logged across several states in the country. For instance, in Ondo state, the presence of GSF was observed at Cathedral junction in Akure North LGA, at approx. 1048 hrs. Likewise in Osun State around 1210 hrs., the presence of security forces was recorded at strategic locations in Osogbo Metropolis such as Ola-Iya junction, Old-Garage, Oke-Fia, Kaleyemi. Protesters were also apprehended at the Old Garage on the Igede-Awo route in Osogbo LGA.

However, in other states, protest turnout and involvement were modest, resulting in minimal impact on traffic which tends to suffer severely during protest actions. For example in Oyo state, there were no arrests reported at the #EndSARS memorial and protest for the abolition of SARS conducted in Agodi, Ibadan North LGA in Oyo state. Similarly, demonstrations at Gaa-Akanbi, Ilorin East LGA, remained calm.

Operational mobility disruptions are unavoidable in the face of unforeseen events, such as protest protests scheduled this week. In reaction to Nnamdi Kanu’s court appearance, protests are anticipated to reappear in Abuja tomorrow, while tensions are likely to remain high in the South East, limiting mobility due to the danger of assaults by unidentified armed groups.