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Counting the losses: What next for officers who fell during the EndSARS protest?

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The #EndSARS protest demanding an end to police brutality lasted for two weeks and was peaceful until it was hijacked by hoodlums who burnt police stations, destroyed property, and looted public and private-owned warehouses.

The officers and police stations became major targets for hoodlums as some made several attempts on correctional facilities in different states. In Lagos, attempts by inmates of the Ikoyi Custodial Centre in Lagos State to escape was foiled by personnel of the centre, in collaboration with other security agencies.

In a similar attempt, a warder at the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Warri, Delta State, was killed. Another attempted jailbreak at the Afara Umuahia Correctional Centre was also stopped by the combined forces of the Nigerian Army, the police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and the armed unit of the Nigerian Correctional .

In Ondo, however, hoodlums broke into the National Correctional Centre in Okitipupa, headquarters of the Okitipupa Local Government Area. The Centre was attacked and about 58 inmates were released. Similarly, in Edo state, there was a jailbreak in Benin and Oko prisons in Benin City by hoodlums freeing several inmates. The Federal Government put the number of freed inmates at 1,993.

Following this, the Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki, gave an ultimatum for freed inmates to voluntarily return or face the wrath of the law. This ultimatum was later extended to October 30,2020.

A study of several reports showed that the police had on several fronts suffered some casualties from the outcome of the EndSARS protest.

While the police force said not less than 22 police officers were killed with hundreds of police stations and formations across the country damaged, available reports from different media platforms show that about 51 police stations were burnt across states, 12  workers attacked or vandalised, 15 officers killed, 3 Injured, and about 35 police vehicles destroyed.

These figures could be more but they are the ones Dubawa could verify through news sources.

These casualty spread across different states is broken down by states below: 

Anambra state

A report by the Guardian noted that 11 Police Stations were burnt down and six vandalised by the hoodlums. The report also noted that two Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in the state were killed, an Inspector of Police was beheaded and his body burnt and two others were injured.

Another report by The Nation confirmed a police officer was beheaded and burnt to ashes by suspected hoodlums during the #ENDSARS protest in Nnewi, Anambra State.

The report quoted the police spokesperson, Haruna Mohammed, as making this known in a statement while noting three others sustained various degrees of injuries. This report also named Nnewi police station as one of the stations attacked and set ablaze.

Other Police formations attacked include Nnewi Area Command, 3-3 Division, Ogbunike/ Isiuwulu, Nnobi, and Itchy Divisions as well as peoples club police post.

The police spokesperson noted that seven other police stations; CPS/Area Command Onitsha, Ogidi, Awada, Inland Town and members of the B’Division repelled the attacks

A similar report by Premium Times noted two police officers were killed in Anambra State as attacks on security agencies continued in the state. This killing followed attacks on Osumeyi Police Station in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra.

It was noted that two other officers were fatally wounded during the attack, and one killed at the Ogidi Police Station, while attempting to confront the protesters. The protesters also allegedly burnt four police stations in Nnewi, Ogidi and Onitsha.

Lagos State 

A report by This Day noted that in Lagos state at least 10 police stations across the state were burnt with two policemen killed at Orile Police Station and many wounded.

The spokesperson for Lagos State Police Command, Muyiwa Adejobi, made this known in a statement while listing affected police stations to include Idimu, Igando, Layeni, Denton, Ilenbe Hausa, Ajah, Amukoko, Ilasa, Cele Outpost under Ijesha, disbanded SARS office under Ajegunle, Ebute-Ero Mushin (Olosan) where two policemen were shot by the hoodlums, and Ojo and Ajegunle where 2 patrol vans each were set ablaze.

A follow up report by the same paper noted the state will need 10bn to rebuild affected stations and barracks. 

Counting the state’s loss, the paper noted  that 25 police stations, 20 patrol vehicles, three barracks, and communication gadgets were destroyed. 

According to the state police command, the 25 stations burnt in the state are: Orile, Amukoko, Layeni, Ilasamaja, Ikotun, Ajah, Igando, Elemoro, Makinde, Onipanu, Ebute Ero, Pen Cinema, Isokoko, Alade, Cele, Igbo Elerin, Shibiri, Gbagada, Onilekere, Makoko, Daleko, Asahun, Makinyo, Amuwo-Odofin and Anti-Kidnapping unit at Surulere.

Other police stations that were vandalised but not burnt were Ojo, Ojodu, Mowo, PPL and Morogbo.

A report by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) confirms the burning of Orile police station. 

Another report by Premium Times noted that over 17 police formations across the state have been totally or partially razed by fire. Premium Times also noted two officers were killed in Lagos State.

Oyo State

A report by Business Day noted that the Ojoo police station in Ibadan was set on fire by suspected hoodlums.

Another report by The Nation showed there was an attack on Makola police station and an officer was hacked.

Also, two policemen were confirmed killed and two declared missing by the state police command.

Ondo State

In Ondo State, a report by Premium Times also showed that two sergeants were killed in Ondo and Ore town. According to the report, this was made known by the commissioner of police, Bolaji Salami.

Abia State

In Abia State, two police officers were reported killed by Premium Times. A police station along Umuoba road axis of Ogbor Hill in Aba was burnt while Eziama Police Division near the popular Bata junction along Aba-Ikot Ekpene Expressway was attacked. 

Delta State

In Delta state, a warder at the Nigerian Correctional Centre in Warri was confirmed dead in an attempted jail break by the inmates.

Rivers State

In Rivers State, about five soldiers and three police officers were reported killed by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra in Rivers State hiding under the #EndSARS protest. It was also noted that over 15 police vehicles were burnt.

Ogun State

The Divisional Crime Officer, DSP Augustine Ogbeche was reported killed and a police station  in the Atan-Ota Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State set ablaze by angry protesters. The report also added that protesters inflicted injuries on the Divisional Police Officer, SP Sikiru Olugbenga, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Ebonyi State

The Ohaozara Police Station, Uburu, in Ebonyi State, was razed down by hoodlums

Edo State

In Edo State, seven police stations and several security vehicles were reported burnt in Benin City.

The Police speaks on its casualties.

Following sparse reports on police casualty from this protest, the police force on Friday October 30,2020, said not less than 22 police officers were killed by youth protesting police brutality while hundreds of police stations and formations across the country were damaged. 

This was contained in a statement by the force spokesperson, Frank Mba, for the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

In a similar report by the Cable, it was noted that in response to Amnesty International, the police said that 22 policemen were killed by protesters. 

Efforts to reach the force spokesperson, Frank Mba, both on phone and via mail for details of these casualties listed in its statement has so far proved abortive.

Recently, This Day reported that the Inspector General (IG),Mohammed Adamu, disclosed that 71 public warehouses and 248 privately owned stores were looted in the course of the protests in 13 states and the FCT. This statistics was given during a virtual meeting with commissioners of police in the 36 states and FCT.

The states listed are Lagos, Edo, Delta, Oyo, Kano, Plateau, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Abia, Imo, and Ekiti states, as well as FCT

This statistics according to the police were collated between October 11, 2020 when the #EndSARS protest assumed a national dimension and October, 27, 2020.

In line with this, the IG inaugurated a 9-man committee to assess the loss suffered by the Nigeria Police Force across the country during the #EndSARS protests.

State Governments and The Police speak on Compensation 

Governors of some states have made clear steps and actions it would take to compensate the families of slain officers.

In Rivers State, the Governor, Nyesom Wike, on October 28,2020, promised N20 million compensation to each family of the slain officers.

Similarly, the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, announced that the families of policemen killed in the post-protests riots in Oyo State would benefit from the N500 million victims fund set up by the state.

Another report by Channels Television corroborates this promise by the governor.

In Lagos State, the state government said children of slain police officers during the #EndSARS crisis in the state would be offered scholarships up to the university level.

The IGP, in reaction to the loss of its officers, disclosed on Wednesday November 4, 2020 that policemen killed during the EndSARS protests across the country would be promoted to their next rank. He also promised the families of those that lost their lives and those that were injured as a result of the #EndSARS violence, would be compensated, noting The Police Act 2020 covers such actions. 

What does the Police Act 2020 say?

President Mohammadu Buhari on September16,2020 assented to the Police Bill 2020

This new Police Act has 17 parts and 145 sections. This new Act repeals the Police Act Cap. P19. Laws of the Federation, 2004, and provides for a more effective and well organised Police Force, driven by the principles of transparency and accountability in its operations and management of its resources.

Screenshots of content of the Police Act 2020.

A quick look at the content of The Act shows sections for the welfare of the police and provision for a reward fund for officers and their families in the case of death under section 91, part 11. According to the act, the police should pay gratuities to widows and children of the deceased police officer and also cover funeral expenses.

Expert opinion

A security expert, Azeez Olaniyan, in a telephone interview with Dubawa, said that security officers are people who put their life on the line for the public and should be treated as heroes when they die. He said a special fund should be set aside for the police for cases like this in addition to insurance and an incentive like a scholarship to the children of these officers.

“The Federal Government needs to set aside a special fund to take care of police men that die on duty to be a moral booster to the police and take care of the family. This should be in addition to the insurance, every police should be insured. This fund should be at the central bank so they will not be any kind of interference from the police. The government should also have a kind of provision for the children of the police in addition to the monetary compensation , maybe a scholarship. It will not be for all the children, maybe one or two children. This will be directly from the government in addition to whatever the police will do. This is in addition to what we have already.”

Excerpt of telephone interview with Azeez Olaniyan.

Another expert, Ben Okezie, who spoke to Dubawa said it is between the Federal Government and State Government to bear the loss and handle repairs. He also suggested that like in the United Kingdom, these officers should be seen as heroes and given national burial.

“Now we have 22 officers that died and so many properties destroyed. We have not started talking about exhibits. One will expect every state government where the police station is situated to carry the burden of repairs. It should be between the federal and state government. They should not expect the police to come and do that. In terms of the human life lost, that act, we have mentioned that thing before, we did not take it more deep but now with all these things we should now start looking at it so the national assembly should look into it and see how they can readjust and bring back to reality so it can serve the real purpose. A policeman is a state property. So the state should be able to take care of everything that has to do with the welfare and life of officers in terms of gratuity and entitlements.” 

Excerpt of Interview with Ben Okezie.

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