#ENDSARS anniversary: Govt intervention prevents violent protest in Delta

Delta State seen to be the starting point of last year’s #ENDSARS protests, recorded a turnaround this year as no violent protest took place in the state on Wednesday when the first anniversary was commemorated in the country.

Loss of lives as a result of police brutality and human rights abuses had led to the violent protest that resulted in huge loss even to the state government, as the protesters destroyed and burnt down some public facilities in the state.

While some of the facilities have been repaired by the state government, Ifeanyi Okowa, the state governor, has continued to express displeasure over the unwarranted protest he blamed on poor leadership in the country.

He also set up a judicial panel of inquiry that looked into the issues of police brutality and extra-judicial killings in the state. The panel came out with its report wherein it made some recommendations that could ensure the end of such protests and also included the compensation of victims.

Many believed that the state government had been delaying in implementing the report of the white paper submitted to it by the panel and thus they expected there would be a repeat of the last year’s protest.

On this Tuesday, October 19, Patrick Ukah, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), in a statement, announced that the state government would pay over N102 million to families of victims of the #ENDSARS protest and would also implement other recommendations made by the panel.

That announcement coupled with security measures put in place seemed to have prevented a repeat of last year’s violent protest in the state.

Read also: Has anything changed since #EndSARS protests hit Nigeria?

There was uneasy calm in parts of the state on Wednesday following the presence of stern-looking security agents in strategic places in an apparent move to forestall the planned.

No protest was witnessed in Asaba, the state capital as heavily armed security agents manned strategic places.

Some roads in Warri, the commercial nerve centre of the state were blocked with armoured tanks by operatives who diverted traffic to alternative routes.

A rights activist told newsmen in Asaba, that the protest was called off “because the state government met our demands.

“As we speak, the government has set up the committee for the protection of human rights and has also approved the payment of compensation for victims of human rights abuse as recommended.

“That money, N102,450,000.00 has been approved for compensation, and any moment from now, they will begin payment.

“So, we are closely monitoring the situation. At the moment, everywhere is calm in Delta. Even people who came out this morning (Wednesday) for regular exercise around the Cenotaph area in Asaba were asked to go back.”

BusinessDay however learnt that a handful of protesters defied the presence of security agents, and embarked on a peaceful street march in Ughelli.

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