• Monday, May 27, 2024
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#EndSars protests: How Anthony Unuode gave his life for a better Nigeria

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As hundreds of candles burned into the night, friends, family and strangers spoke about Anthony and his selflessness, while some shuffled their feet in grief, heavy with the burden of his death.

“Have we betrayed the dead?” asked one man, who said he did not know Anthony personally but, like many others, felt a kinship had developed between them during the protests against police brutality that rocked Nigeria last month.

The protests were held under the #EndSars banner, a reference to demands for the disbandment of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, whose officers were repeatedly accused of criminal activity ranging from extortion to extra-judicial killings.

“He died fighting for the same thing we are fighting for,” said another speaker, who followed Anthony on Twitter.

Protesters said that Anthony was brave. When thugs suspected to be hired by politicians to crush protests attacked them on 11 October at the Berger roundabout in Abuja, he stepped forward and shielded those he could, escaping with a minor injury on his arm.

Three days later, the thugs launched another attack with machetes, daggers and wooden sticks to disrupt a march along Abuja’s Kubwa expressway.

It is unclear whether Anthony was among the marchers or just happened to be walking in the area, but, his friends say, he suffered deep machete wounds to his head.

With blood gushing from his head, he removed his shirt, wrapped it over his wounds and ran for miles seeking help, finally collapsing in front of his friend Muazu Suleiman.

“I put him in the car and drove as fast as I could to the national hospital, but when we got there, there were no hand gloves, no cotton wools, no drugs. I had to go and buy these things from outside,” said Muazu.

“When they wanted to do surgery they were using their phone lights, some of the tools they needed were locked behind glass,” he added.

Hospital spokesman Tayo Hastrup denied the allegation, describing it as a “lie”.

But Anthony’s elder brother, Austin Unuode, also complained about the hospital, saying medics “couldn’t run some of the tests because there was no electricity”.

“These were the things he fought against, he believed that things needed to change in Nigeria,” he added.

Mother misses funeral

Eze Divine, who attended the candlelight memorial held at Anthony’s home, called for justice.

“It’s bad that those that killed him may never get arrested because these are state-sponsored thugs.

“If we are asking for an end to police brutality and they are sending thugs, it says a lot about the government. It could have been me, it could have been anybody,” he said.

The police told the BBC that they were investigating Anthony’s murder, and no arrests had yet been made.