Amid Grow­ing Global Sup­port for Protests, FG Says Po­lice Re­form Not Ne­go­tiable

Protests per­sist in La­gos, Abuja as govt beefs up se­cu­rity at land bor­ders

THISDAY - - FRONT PAGE - Our cor­re­spon­dents

Oyetola at­tacked, two pro­test­ers feared killed by gov­er­nor's de­tails

Aisha Buhari: It’s time to ad­dress in­se­cu­rity in the North

Army to be­gin op­er­a­tion croc­o­dile smile na­tion­wide Mon­day

La­gos, Enugu, Kaduna, Ogun set up ju­di­cial panel on Po­lice bru­tal­ity

With in­creas­ing sup­ports by in­ter­na­tional stars for the #ENDSARS pro­test­ers in many parts of the coun­try, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, yes­ter­day, re­it­er­ated that a po­lice re­form was in­evitable and promised to re­design the op­er­a­tional guide­lines and mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nisms that would help avert hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion by men of the Nige­ria Po­lice Force (NPF).

One of Amer­ica’s fore­most ac­tors, Tyler Perry, swelled the ranks of the in­ter­na­tional stars, who had so far en­listed sup­ports for the on­go­ing protests, when he tweeted yes­ter­day, writ­ing, “I hate that a coun­try with enor­mous po­ten­tial to be one of the

great­est in the world, is go­ing through so much hor­ror…I stand with Nige­ria.”

This is as the protests have per­sisted in both La­gos and Abuja, her two ma­jor epi­cen­tres, forc­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to equally beef up se­cu­rity in its land bor­ders across the na­tion.

Buhari Has Failed Nige­ri­ans on Se­cu­rity, Says Katsina Youths

From the home state of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari in Katsina, the youths, un­der the aus­pices of Coali­tion of North­ern Groups (CNG), have be­moaned the pre­vail­ing spate of killings and kid­nap­pings or­ches­trated by ban­dits, say­ing the pres­i­dent has failed Nige­ri­ans and the state on se­cu­rity.

And as though read­ing the minds of the Katsina youths, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has en­joined her hus­band, Pres­i­dent Buhari to seize the mo­men­tum and ad­dress the grow­ing in­se­cu­rity, par­tic­u­larly, in the north­ern part of the coun­try.

In an­other breath, the Nige­rian Army has an­nounced plans to com­mence its an­nual na­tion­wide mil­i­tary ex­er­cise tagged Croc­o­dile Smile, which im­poses ‘op­er­a­tion pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion’ – a move many feared could pre­cip­i­tate a clash with the pro­test­ers.

As at yes­ter­day, four states had an­nounced ju­di­cial panel of in­quiry to in­ves­ti­gate po­lice bru­tal­ity and killings. La­gos, Ogun, Enugu and Kaduna,while other states are ex­pected to fol­low suit.

Also, the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC), Satur­day, con­firmed fu­tile at­tempts by un­known group to hack into its of­fi­cial web­site amid al­le­ga­tions that sev­eral other gov­ern­ment agen­cies and paras­tatals, had been hacked, fu­elling in­sin­u­a­tions that the na­tion prob­a­bly runs a rather weak tech se­cu­rity.

In other news, Osun State Gov­er­nor, Gboyega Oyetola nar­rowly es­caped be­ing lynched yes­ter­day by armed thugs, who al­legedly in­vaded a protest rally, where the gov­er­nor had gone to ad­dress some of the an­gry youths, protest­ing against po­lice bru­tal­ity.

The de­vel­op­ment re­port­edly left two peo­ple feared dead, al­legedly shot by the Gov Oyetola's se­cu­rity de­tails, while many of the ve­hi­cles on the con­voy of the gov­er­nor were badly dam­aged.

This but came at a time his Bauchi State coun­ter­part, Se­na­tor Bala Ab­dulka­dri Mo­hammed, urged the me­dia to use their in­flu­ence to unite Nige­ri­ans in the face of the se­ries of protests against Po­lice bru­tal­ity in the coun­try, say­ing al­though the po­lice have their lim­i­ta­tions, the coun­try still needs them to main­tain peace and or­der.

Min­is­ter of Po­lice Af­fairs, Mr. Mo­hammed Maigari Dingyadi, speak­ing at the week­end dur­ing stake­hold­ers en­gage­ment meet­ing on in­ter­nal se­cu­rity and con­flict res­o­lu­tions in Katsina, Katsina State, fon­dled with reme­dies to the lin­ger­ing threats of ban­ditry in the state, not­ing that a po­lice re­form would en­hance bet­ter ser­vice de­liv­ery de­void of un­pro­fes­sional be­hav­iour and vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights.

He ex­plained that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment was work­ing with crit­i­cal stake­hold­ers in the coun­try to re­for­mu­late poli­cies and pro­grammes for ef­fec­tive polic­ing and main­te­nance of law and or­der for har­mo­nious co­ex­is­tence amongst her cit­i­zenry.

The min­is­ter re­it­er­ated that the re­cent dis­band­ment of the Spe­cial Anti Rob­bery Squad (SARS) was to avert con­ducts that were not in line with the prin­ci­ples of demo­cratic gov­er­nance and also top deepen re­la­tion­ship be­tween the po­lice and the civil pop­u­lace.

He said: "This stake­hold­ers en­gage­ment is com­ing at a time when po­lice in this coun­try are be­ing faced with chal­lenges of un­pro­fes­sional con­ducts that are not in tune with the prin­ci­ples of demo­cratic gov­er­nance.

"We will work with stake­hold­ers, es­pe­cially civil so­ci­ety groups in re­design­ing our op­er­a­tional guide­lines and mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nism of po­lice to avoid the re­oc­cur­ring of highly un­be­com­ing con­ducts of the SARS per­son­nel that led to the dis­band­ment of the unit".

He, how­ever, "urged all Nige­ri­ans to see the re­cent dis­band­ment of SARS as gov­ern­ment's com­mit­ment to deep­en­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the po­lice and cit­i­zens for bet­ter ser­vice de­liv­ery de­void of un­pro­fes­sional be­hav­iour and vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights.

"There­fore, I want to as­sure Nige­ri­ans of our com­mit­ment to re­form our polic­ing frame­work to meet global best prac­tices and ar­range­ments are on to deal with er­ring po­lice­men in­volved in vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights".

In his open­ing re­marks, the Katsina State Gov­er­nor, Aminu Bello Masari, said the state gov­ern­ment would con­tinue to ac­cord se­cu­rity the needed pri­or­ity to end the peren­nial chal­lenges af­flict­ing the state.

Masari added that his ad­min­is­tra­tion had em­barked on re­volv­ing se­cu­rity strate­gies, which he said had greatly stemmed the rate of ban­ditry and kid­nap­ping in the state.

Mean­while, the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional stars from dif­fer­ent walks of life, who had en­listed sup­port for the on­go­ing protests across the coun­try, has con­tin­ued to in­crease by the minute.

Apart from Tyler Perry, who just joined, other su­per­stars, who are with the Nige­rian youths in their drive in­clude Wy­clef Jean, Ce­line Dion, Kanye West, Trey Songz, Drake, Mar­cus Rash­ford, Me­sut Ozil, Rio Fer­di­nand, etc., all tak­ing to Twit­ter to ex­press sol­i­dar­ity with Nige­rian pro­test­ers, who have been on the streets for days.

Be­sides, Nige­ri­ans in the Di­as­pora have also joined the protest, from Paris to Lon­don, Ber­lin and New York.

US rap­per, Kanye West tweeted, “I stand with my Nige­rian broth­ers and sis­ters to end po­lice bru­tal­ity. The gov­ern­ment must an­swer to the peo­ples cries #End­Po­liceBru­tal­i­tyin­Nige­ria.”

Ce­line Dion, in a sim­i­lar vein, stated, “My heart is melt­ing af­ter read­ing what is go­ing on in Nige­ria…#EndSARS #End­Po­lice­Bru­tal­ity.”

Com­ment­ing too is a pop­u­lar Amer­i­can gospel singer, Kirk Franklin, who stated thus: “For over 20 years, Nige­ria stood with me, now I stand with you. #end­sarsnow.”

Last Sun­day, Drake shared an #EndSARS post from Grace Ladoja, a Nige­rian-Bri­tish tal­ent man­ager and so­cial­ist. “Pls check this post from my fam­ily for

the info @grace­ladoja,” Drake cap­tioned the post along with a Nige­rian flag emoji.

RnB Singer, Trey Songz also tweeted his sup­port for #EndSARs, blast­ing the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment for not act­ing faster in re­sponse to al­le­ga­tions of po­lice bru­tal­ity and vi­o­lence.

For­mer Bri­tish pro­fes­sional foot­baller, Rio Fer­di­nand and ‘Star Wars’ Bri­tish-Nige­rian ac­tor, John Boyega, con­demned po­lice bru­tal­ity in the coun­try.

“Hor­ri­ble to hear what’s been go­ing on in Nige­ria. Let's make this a trend­ing topic ev­ery­where #EndSARS. My thoughts go out to ev­ery­one, who has been af­fected. #End­Po­lice­Bru­tal­ity," Ozil tweeted.

Rash­ford, on his part, wrote: "My thoughts and prayers with all of those af­fected #EndSARS."

Tammy Abra­ham, An­to­nio Rudi­ger, and Nige­ria’s Wizkid also ex­pressed their con­cerns.

Nige­rian foot­baller and Le­ices­ter star, Wil­fred Ndidi, said, “#EndSARS for the safety of Nige­ri­ans... We are scared to visit home, be­cause the peo­ple who are meant to pro­tect us are killing us. Look­ing good with dreads is not a crime.”

Against this back­drop, the protests against po­lice bru­tal­ity, cor­rup­tion and indis­crim­i­nate ar­rest of cit­i­zens, have per­sisted in both La­gos and Abuja, even when they came un­der at­tacks by ma­chete-wield­ing thugs at Julius Berger Round­about in Wuse on Thurs­day.

Civil rights ac­tivists and youths have de­fi­antly ig­nored the ban on pub­lic protests by the FCT Ad­min­is­tra­tion by march­ing in the city in the past three days to de­mand for po­lice re­forms.

In Abuja, on Fri­day, they blocked the In­ter­na­tional Air­port road and paral­ysed the move­ment of ve­hi­cles along the busy road. The sit­u­a­tion made many com­muters to be stranded for sev­eral hours.

Many peo­ple trekked for hours with the at­ten­dant se­cu­rity risk and only got home in the mid night, while some mo­torists, who were trapped in the traf­fic, slept on the road as a re­sult of the cor­don set up at the Abuja City Gate. The dis­rup­tion in the flow of traf­fic to the air­port also caused many prospec­tive pas­sen­gers to miss their flight.

But the pro­test­ers have con­tin­ued from where they last

stopped, when they bar­ri­caded the Kubwa-Zuba Ex­press­way and the strate­gic Abuja- Keffi Road.

Traf­fic was grounded along the 10-lane Kubwa-Zuba ex­press­way by the youths, who blocked the Kubwa sec­tion of the road around the NNPC fil­ing sta­tion.

An­other cor­don was also mounted at Gwarimpa lead­ing to a se­ri­ous traf­fic bot­tle­neck. Many in­bound ve­hi­cles from nearby com­mu­ni­ties and states in the North West were stranded. The pro­test­ers car­ried plac­ards and sang protest songs.

The pro­test­ers also set up bar­ri­cade along the strate­gic Abuja- Keffi Road, which con­nects the FCT with the north cen­tral, North East­ern and South­east­ern states.

There was a mid morn­ing protest by hun­dreds of youths at Mararaba, New Nyanya, New Karu and Ado com­mu­ni­ties in the Nasarawa part of the road.

There were also pock­ets of protests in Masaka in the evening, lead­ing to a dis­rup­tion of ve­hic­u­lar flow on both sides of the road.

In La­gos, the protests also con­tin­ued with no signs of let­ting up, as pro­test­ers ramped up both on­line and off­line ef­forts to press their de­mands for po­lice re­forms.

The protests con­tin­ued si­mul­ta­ne­ously at the Lekki Toll­gate, Alimosho Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Ago Palace Way, Alausa, Amuwo Od­ofin, Egbeda, Iko­tun, Ipaja and en­vi­rons.

The protest held in Iko­rodu built up with time and grounded the en­tire sub­urb, ham­per­ing ve­hic­u­lar move­ment.

In­evitably, this shot up the cost of trans­porta­tion in the ar­eas as a trip from Oshodi to Iko­rodu that or­di­nar­ily costs N150 was upped to N1,000.

To en­sure a co­or­di­nated protest na­tion­wide, de­void of hitches, the pro­test­ers how­ever cre­ated a helpline on 01 700 1755.

Ac­cord­ing to FK Abudu, one of the or­gan­is­ers, the call sign one is for med­i­cal, two for le­gal, three for food and sup­plies, four, five and six for men­tal health emer­gen­cies and seven for se­cu­rity.

Cu­ri­ously, the Nige­ria Youth Or­gan­i­sa­tions (NYO) has ap­pealed to youths to stop the #EndSARS protest as it might have been hi­jacked by self-cen­tred el­e­ments bent on com­pro­mis­ing the peace of the coun­try.

The group also urged sup­port for ef­forts to re­form the Nige­ria Po­lice to bring about mod­ern polic­ing with hu­man face as promised by Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari.

Na­tional Pres­i­dent of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion, Al­haji Abubakar Wali, made the call at a news con­fer­ence in Abuja, say­ing all well mean­ing Nige­ri­ans must not play into the hands of those bent on dis­ta­bil­is­ing the coun­try like Syria and Libya, by cre­at­ing un­rests in­spired by civil protests.

“We join all well-mean­ing Nige­ri­ans to con­demn bad eggs in the po­lice, who per­pe­trate bru­tal­ity against in­no­cent cit­i­zens, and wel­come nec­es­sary re­forms that shall bring about mod­ern polic­ing with hu­man face. We com­mend the Nige­rian youth and lovers of so­cial jus­tice for com­ing up with a pa­tri­otic stands to right the wrongs in our so­ci­ety.

“How­ever, we must as a point of ne­ces­sity crave to­wards mu­tual trust of peace, unity, love, stew­ard­ship and ac­count­abil­ity to the gov­ern­ment and peo­ple,” Wali said, even as he tasked the Na­tional Assem­bly to en­sure the pas­sage of the Youth Rights Bill, which he said would en­sure that the rights and priv­i­leges of the youths are pro­tected.

Leader of Ohaneaze Ndigbo Youth Coun­cil World­wide, Mr. Maz­iOkwu Nnabuike, also en­joined the youths to sup­port the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment laud­able re­forms in the po­lice.

How­ever, given the fact that the protests have per­sisted, the Depart­ment of State Se­cu­rity (DSS) has raised the alarm over al­leged plans by smug­glers to mo­bilise peo­ple in Ogun State to protest against the con­tin­ued clo­sure of the na­tion’s bor­ders with Benin Repub­lic.

The DSS, there­fore, ad­vised all se­cu­rity oper­a­tives in Ogun State to be on the alert.

In a memo to the Ogun State Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, the DSS said protest of sundry is­sues would spring up in the state, build­ing on the suc­cess of the ENDSARS protest across the na­tion, in­sist­ing there were plans to protest against even bad roads in the state.

The memo to the po­lice com­mis­sioner, which is dated 15th Oc­to­ber 2020 read: “Fol­low­ing the #ENDSARS protest across the na­tion, there are indi­ca­tions that protest on sundry is­sues will spring up in the state with ef­fect from 16th Oc­to­ber, 2020 as foot sol­diers and their spon­sors, both lo­cal and for­eign have com­menced mo­bil­i­sa­tion of the peo­ple, es­pe­cially, the youths who are still buoyed by the per­ceived suc­cess of the #ENDSARS

protests.

“Al­ready, youths in bor­der com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly those in Idiroko in Ipokia LGA, OwodeYewa and Oja Odan in Ayewa South LGA, Ilara in Imeko-Afon LGA and Ijoun in Yewa South LGA are be­ing mo­bilised by smug­glers and their for­eign col­lab­o­ra­tors to stage protests si­mul­ta­ne­ously any­time soon against the con­tin­ued clo­sure of the na­tion’s land bor­ders and ac­tiv­i­ties of se­cu­rity agen­cies, par­tic­u­larly the Nige­ria Cus­toms Ser­vice (NCS) at the bor­der points.

“Like­wise, there is mo­bil­i­sa­tion of res­i­dents of the state by agents of the op­po­si­tion to protest against bad con­di­tion of roads across the state. The protest against bad roads will likely hold in Abeokuta, Ifo, Ota, Sagamu and ma­jor towns in Ijebu axis as the foot sol­diers have made in­roads into these towns with an ap­pre­cia­ble num­ber of youths sym­pa­thetic to their cause.

“In view of the pal­pa­ble threat and its neg­a­tive im­pact on na­tional se­cu­rity, it is im­per­a­tive that pa­trol of key and vul­ner­a­ble points and flash-points/black spots cross the state be in­ten­si­fied amongst other se­cu­rity mea­sures, while se­cu­rity oper­a­tives at bor­der points be ex­tra cau­tious and vig­i­lant against pos­si­ble at­tacks by ag­grieved youths from the bor­der ar­eas.”

From Katsina State, the youths, who passed a verdict of fail­ure on the pres­i­dent, said the wave of ban­ditry, rape and kid­nap­ping rav­aging Bat­sari and Faskari Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Ar­eas of the state, has un­fore­seen eco­nomic, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions that if not tackle would en­gulf the en­tire state.

In a com­mu­niqué is­sued on Satur­day by the North-west Vice Chair­man of CNG, Mr. Jamilu Aliyu, shortly af­ter a round­table dis­cus­sion on how to end ban­ditry, kid­nap­ping and rape in the state, held at the Katsina State Mo­tel, stated that gov­ern­ment's at­tempts to re­assert pub­lic con­fi­dence with re­peated rhetoric of be­ing on top of the sit­u­a­tion, seem to be wors­en­ing the up­roar as killings and kid­nap­ping for ran­som have be­come a daily oc­cur­rence in most parts of the state.

"The ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari has failed the na­tion and in par­tic­u­lar, Katsina State in the vi­tal area of im­prov­ing cit­i­zens lives and se­cur­ing prop­erty. Many of our par­ents and chil­dren are still in cap­tiv­ity and many of them are wi­d­ows and or­phans.

"The rise in the spate of

ban­ditry and kid­nap­ping in places such as Faskari and Bat­sari, lately, has be­come a ma­jor try­ing point for ev­ery­one but the au­thor­i­ties have re­mained de­tached from the re­al­ity," he said.

He, how­ever, called on Gov­er­nor Masari to in­ves­ti­gate the al­leged mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of se­cu­rity funds meant to stem ban­ditry in the state by some of his kitchen cabinets, while ex­press­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion that the al­leged em­bez­zle­ment of se­cu­rity funds by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials was com­ing at time res­i­dents of the state were un­der siege by ma­raud­ing ban­dits and kid­nap­pers.

Also, in a push con­sisted with her dis­po­si­tion, the first lady, Aisha Buhari, has cre­ated a new hash­tag on Twit­ter #Achechi­ja­maa (save the peo­ple) and shared it with a song, high­light­ing the in­se­cu­rity and killings in North­ern Nige­ria.

In the mu­sic video tweeted in her ver­i­fied han­dle, the first lady begged Pres­i­dent Buhari to ad­dress in­se­cu­rity in the North­ern Nige­ria.

The mu­sic video, which is ren­dered in Hausa lan­guage, showed images of Se­cu­rity Ser­vice Chiefs in meet­ings with Pres­i­dent Buhari at the Pres­i­den­tial Villa.

The trans­la­tion goes thus: “Please, in the name of God, pay at­ten­tion and in­ter­vene on our plight. The North is cry­ing! Our blood is be­ing shed! Our peo­ple are be­ing killed! Our prop­er­ties and wealth are be­ing de­stroyed; Baba, please in­ter­vene; Baba Please pro­tect us!"

But, ap­par­ently not com­fort­able with the state of the na­tion with re­spects to the on­go­ing protests, the Nige­rian Army has con­cluded plans to com­mence its na­tion­wide an­nual mil­i­tary ex­er­cise tagged Croc­o­dile Smile, an idea that forces op­er­a­tion pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the cit­i­zens.

A press re­lease by the Act­ing Direc­tor, Army Pub­lic Re­la­tions, Col. Sa­gir Musa, stated that the ex­er­cise, which is tra­di­tion­ally con­ducted in the last quar­ter of the year, would hold this year be­tween 20th of Oc­to­ber to the 31st of De­cem­ber.

He said this year's ex­er­cise, Croc­o­dile Smile VI, is de­lib­er­ately in­tended to be all en­com­pass­ing to in­clude cy­ber war­fare ex­er­cises de­signed to iden­tify, track and counter neg­a­tive pro­pa­ganda in the so­cial me­dia and across the cy­berspace.

“This is the first ever Cy­ber­war­fare ex­er­cise to be con­ducted in the his­tory of the African Armed Forces. Ac­cord­ingly, the ex­er­cise will also in­clude pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion com­po­nent aimed at iden­ti­fy­ing Boko Haram ter­ror­ists flee­ing from the North East and other parts of the coun­try as a re­sult of the on­go­ing op­er­a­tions in the var­i­ous the­atres of op­er­a­tions es­pe­cially in the North­east, North Cen­tral and North Western parts of Nige­ria.

“The Nige­rian Army, once again, re­as­sures all well mean­ing Nige­ri­ans of its com­mit­ment to the sus­te­nance of peace and se­cu­rity in Nige­ria and urges mem­bers of the pub­lic for their sup­port and un­der­stand­ing through­out the pe­riod of the ex­er­cise.”

But, there are strong indi­ca­tions that the move might clash with the on­go­ing #EndSARS protests call­ing for the ref­or­ma­tion of the Nige­ria Po­lice, se­cu­rity and good gov­er­nance.

The Army had dur­ing the launch of Op­er­a­tion Pos­i­tive Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion in Oc­to­ber 2019, said it was de­signed to track flee­ing ter­ror­ists in the North­east, who had moved to other parts of the coun­try and thereby in­formed mem­bers of the pub­lic to al­ways go about with a valid means of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Troops were di­rected to strictly check "le­git­i­mate means of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion such as na­tional iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card, vot­ers regis­tra­tion card, drivers' li­cence and in­ter­na­tional pass­port or other valid of­fi­cial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion be­fore al­low­ing such per­sons pas­sage."

It later an­nounced that it was ex­tend­ing op­er­a­tion pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion across the na­tion to check­mate ban­dits, kid­nap­pers and armed rob­bers among oth­ers.

But the Arch­bishop of La­gos, Al­fred Ade­wale Martins, has called on Pres­i­dent Buhari not to call out the mil­i­tary to stop the on­go­ing protest by youths.

In a state­ment he is­sued yes­ter­day, Martins said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should en­gage the youths in di­a­logue and not use force to chase them away.

"A BBC News re­port on 15th Oc­to­ber insin­u­ated that the Nige­rian Army may be de­ployed to quell the protests by force. This is very dis­turb­ing and we hope it does not hap­pen.

"Such a mea­sure, if adopted, can only lead to in­juries and pos­si­ble deaths, and an es­ca­la­tion of the protests. It has the ten­dency of turn­ing the largely peace­ful protests into a vi­o­lent one," he said.

He there­fore ap­pealed to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to toe the line of en­gage­ment in di­a­logue, lis­ten­ing to the de­mands of the youths and other well-mean­ing Nige­ri­ans. He also com­mended the gov­ern­ment for ac­ced­ing to the de­mands of the youth.

In­ter­est­ingly, the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC), Satur­day con­firmed fu­tile at­tempts by un­known group to hack into its of­fi­cial web­site, say­ing its of­fi­cial web­site was still intact.

INEC’s Direc­tor of Pub­lic Af­fairs and Voter Ed­u­ca­tion, Nick Dazang, told THIS­DAY that though some un­known groups at­tempted sev­eral times to hack into the of­fi­cial web­site of the com­mis­sion, how­ever, failed each time they tried.

"Yes, I can con­firm that to­day, as early as 3 am, at­tempts were made to hack into the INEC web­site, but this was re­pelled by the staff of the In­for­ma­tion Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy (ICT). The good thing is that the of­fi­cial web­site of the com­mis­sion is still intact and the INEC ICT has been kept on 24 hours watch out against these groups," he ex­plained.

Asked if he knew the mo­tive of the hack­ers, the INEC Direc­tor said though he has no an­swer to that, how­ever, "what­ever their in­ten­tions might be, they have failed, be­cause our ICT unit is equal to the task and will al­ways

re­pel the ac­tion."

He re­fused to at­tribute the at­tempt to hack into the INEC web­site to any group, but since Thurs­day, some of­fi­cial web­sites of gov­ern­ment agen­cies have been hacked into by Anony­mous, a hack­ing syn­di­cate that claims sol­i­dar­ity with pro­test­ers de­mand­ing an end to Po­lice bru­tal­ity, even as some groups as­so­ci­ated with the protests have also claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the mul­ti­ple hack­ings.

But the sit­u­a­tion is be­lieved to have ex­posed the na­tion’s weak tech­nol­ogy se­cu­rity since the co­or­di­nated at­tacks came 72hours af­ter it de­manded of the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment to end po­lice bru­tal­ity.

Co­de­named Op­er­a­tion Nige­ria, the hack­ers drawn from LiteMods, Skele­tor, Shad­ow_xor, Lo­rian Sy­naro and Anony­mous Cen­tral, among sev­eral oth­ers, at­tacked dif­fer­ent plat­forms, hack­ing some and tak­ing oth­ers off­line.

Also re­port­edly at­tacked were web­sites of the State House, Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria, the Nige­rian Army, the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC), the Nige­rian Cus­toms Ser­vice, and the INEC, which has since been de­nied.

In the area of se­cu­rity, they also hacked the web­site of the Nige­rian Po­lice, which showed the abysmal at­ten­tion paid by the force to tech­nol­ogy.

In the data gen­er­ated on Mega. nz, it showed the po­lice only recorded 23 bio­met­ric cap­ture in a na­tion of 200mil­lion per­sons, while its sta­tis­tics for stolen ve­hi­cles was pegged at 201, which is con­trary to fig­ures of 1,344 co­or­di­nated by le­git­car.ng, a web­site that helps peo­ple ver­ify any car sale be­fore it hap­pens.

Fac­ing the state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments, they hacked the La­gos, Edo and Kaduna States web­sites, as well as that of the Amuwo Od­ofin Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment in La­gos, not leav­ing out the web­site of the Nige­rian Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol (NCDC).

Late evening ca­su­al­ties were the Nige­rian In­sti­tute of Science Lab­o­ra­tory Tech­nol­ogy (NISLT), the Nige­rian Build­ing and Road Re­search In­sti­tute (NBRRI), Nige­rian In­dus­trial Train­ing Fund,

Un­de­terred in their co­or­di­nated at­tacks, they said: “We warn that the at­tacks on Nige­rian gov­ern­ment ser­vants will con­tinue if they con­tinue to harm the peo­ple.

“The Nige­rian #gov­ern­ment must pay for what they did and we will ex­pose all their crimes against the coun­try. We Are Anony­mous. #EndSARS.”

How­ever, with a rather dis­turb­ing spec­ta­cle, the Osun State Gov­er­nor, Gboyega Oyetola, was yes­ter­day at­tacked by armed thugs, who in­vaded one of the protest ral­lies, where he had gone to ad­dress the youths, leav­ing two peo­ple dead and many of the ve­hi­cles on his con­voy dam­aged.

A tweet from the state gov­ern­ment @Sta­te­o­fo­sun, con­firm­ing the de­vel­op­ment, reads: “There was an at­tempt Satur­day on the life of the Gov­er­nor Oyetola. Armed with guns, cut­lasses, the hood­lums swooped on the gov­er­nor at Olaiya junc­tion, while he was ad­dress­ing the #EndSARS pro­test­ers at the state cap­i­tal”.

Sim­i­larly, the Bauchi State Gov­er­nor, Se­na­tor Bala Mo­hammed, while urg­ing the me­dia to use their in­flu­ence to unite Nige­ri­ans in the face of the se­ries of protest against Po­lice bru­tal­ity in the na­tion, con­tended that the coun­try was di­vided as a re­sult of the var­i­ous protest across the coun­try, and as such, jour­nal­ists should not heat up the polity by writ­ing sen­sa­tional re­ports.

Speak­ing at his coun­try home in Yel­wan Duguri at Alkeleri lo­cal gov­ern­ment area of Bauchi, shortly af­ter cast­ing his vote for the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion, he noted that, "Nige­ria is so much di­vided now in the face of the on­go­ing protest against the SARS unit of the po­lice. You as

jour­nal­ists should not ag­gra­vate the sit­u­a­tion, but should unite Nige­ri­ans by dis­sem­i­nat­ing the right in­for­ma­tion, such that will not heat up the polity.

"This lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion in the state was con­ducted to give the peo­ple of Bauchi the priv­i­lege of ex­er­cis­ing their own univer­sal suf­frage by elect­ing their own lead­ers. This, we have suc­cess­fully done to­day and the peo­ple of the state, es­pe­cially the grass­roots are happy that we have kept our cam­paign prom­ise of con­duct­ing a free and fair lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion" he said.

Young APC Stake­hold­ers Di­vided over #EndSARS Protest

Young Stake­hold­ers of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC), on Satur­day, openly dis­agreed among them­selves over the on­go­ing protest, which has cul­mi­nated in the scrap­ping of the Spe­cial Anti-Rob­bery Squad ( SARS) by Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari.

The press con­fer­ence that was sup­posed to start by 11:30 am could not start un­til 1:05pm, when they were able to reach some com­pro­mise.

The mem­bers of the group had open dis­agree­ment in the pres­ence of the press be­fore the press brief­ing kicked off.

While some mem­bers agreed to call on the pro­test­ers to stop protest­ing and give the gov­ern­ment the ben­e­fit of the doubt to re­form the po­lice, oth­ers in­sisted that ask­ing them to put an end to the protest was a wrong call.

How­ever, the young stake­hold­ers, who later ad­dressed jour­nal­ists at the party sec­re­tariat in Abuja on Satur­day, said the protest was now do­ing more arm to the peo­ple.

Speak­ing on be­half of the group, its spokesper­son, Mr. Aliyu Sheu, said the Young APC Stake­hold­ers had watched events of the past days as it

con­cerns the ag­i­ta­tions to put an end to po­lice bru­tal­ity and par­tic­u­larly the men­ace of oper­a­tives of SARS.

The group noted that it ac­knowl­edged the gen­uine­ness be­hind these ag­i­ta­tions just as it ap­pre­ci­ated the unity and re­silience that had been shown by Nige­rian youths in the past few days, adding that it was a tes­ta­ment to the true spirit of the de­sire to en­throne a na­tion that works for all.

Ac­cord­ing to the group, the fact that the protests have been sus­tained de­spite gov­ern­ment agree­ing to the de­mands was as a re­sult of the long years of mis­trust be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple.

It, how­ever, added that the present ad­min­is­tra­tion was com­mit­ted and al­ready show­ing the de­sire to bridge that gap and right the wrongs of many years, pre­dat­ing this gov­ern­ment.

But an­other mem­ber of the group, Mr. Da­gogo Fubara, said while he was in agree­ment with all that was said about the protest, he in­sisted that the call on the pro­test­ers to halt the protest was a wrong call, adding that the protest was not po­lit­i­cal, but a call on the author­ity for the right thing to be done.

Fubara, there­fore, called on the Min­is­ter of Youth and Sports De­vel­op­ment, Mr. Sun­day Dare, to em­u­late the Gov­er­nor of Kwara, La­gos, and Rivers States and ad­dress the pro­test­ers.

North­ern Groups Stage Protest in Makurdi over In­se­cu­rity

The Benue State chap­ter of the Coali­tion of North­ern groups (CNG), yes­ter­day, staged a peace­ful protest amid tight se­cu­rity in the state cap­i­tal, Makurdi.

See pho­tos of #EndSARS protests around the coun­try and di­as­pora on pages 10 to 15.

Enugu State Gov­er­nor, Ifeanyi Ug­wuanyi (right) and his deputy, Hon. Mrs. Ce­cilia Ezeilo, ac­knowl­edg­ing cheers from pro­test­ers, led by Flavour and Phyno, dur­ing the #EnuguEndSA­RSProtest, at the Gov­ern­ment House, Enugu...yes­ter­day

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