EndSARS protest: My life comes first, says roadside trader
...as heavy security presence unsettles residents
Precious Effiong, 25, is a roadside trader who sells alcohol in sachets beside the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos where protesters were killed in October last year.
Our correspondent observed she was selling sachet alcohol to the security agents deployed to prevent protest at the Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday and has been there doing the business for about six months.
But on the night of the Lekki shootings which led to the death of many protesters, it was her sister who took over sales at the spot.
Effiong, who hails from Akwa Ibom State, narrated how her sister filmed a protester who was shot in the leg that night. This was a reason for her to be concerned by the heavy security presence at the t toll gate, mobilised to prevent a second protest scheduled for Saturday, February 13, 2021.
Although frightened, Precious seemed to have a plan if things escalated.
“I will run,” she said. “My life comes first.”
She told our correspondent that she was afraid, and would like normalcy to return to the place where she ekes a living.
While speaking on how afraid she was, and describing her presence there as risky, another young, rough-looking Nigeria who came to patronize her, also confirmed her fears.
When word spread about the Occupy Lekki protest in a bid to scuttle the planned resumption of normal activities at the toll gate, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, said the command would vehemently resist any form of EndSARS protest as being planned by some groups of people.
Odumosu’s statement was reported two days prior to the planned protest and signed by the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi.
Security operatives were immediately deployed to the protest ground a day before. A source told our correspondent that some police officers were deployed to major spots across the state and some arrests were also made.
The source revealed that he was part of those that joined the state task force down to Lekki in a show of force which began from Obalende through Lekki Phase One and then to Phase Two, in order to execute the order of the commissioner of police.
According to him, a lot of security operatives slept at the toll gate and more were deployed as reinforcements leading to pockets of arrests of protesters.
The zeal the protesters demonstrated on Saturday and the swiftness with which the security agents pounced on them created a silent tension around Lekki amid the free flow of traffic.
Residents and workers along that axis say they are worried even though the place was calm and devoid of protesters as at 5:35 pm.
“Things are normal for now. They [police] have been here since yesterday. We are a bit disturbed we don’t want something that will lead to killing and shedding of blood,” another source said.
While the commission of police did not address journalists during his tour to monitor the activities of his boys, our correspondent observed that food was brought for the security men. Few minutes later, some of the security agents like Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and others, drove off in their vans at about 5:43 pm.
But with the number of security men still present at the toll gate as at 6pm when this report was filed, it is unlikely that all of them will be withdrawn, even though some were getting ready to leave at the time.