The violence-marred EndSARS protest in Iseyin local government area of Oyo state left behind ruins and anguish for individuals, government institutions and private businesses closely affected by the wanton destruction and indiscriminate looting. Legit.ng spoke with the victims for on-the-spot assessment of the attack.
He looked fretted and downcast, standing close to the remnants of his business looted down together with his properties vandalised as close family members, neighbours and bystanders gathered to offer their sympathy.
Dressed in a native garment with some touches of light blue and pink looking desolate, Mr Ajekigbe Sunday, popularly known as Sonny Photo, never envisioned he could be a victim of the hijacked EndSARS protest in Iseyin on Thursday, October 22.
He is a regular businessman known for providing internet solution and registration of students for WAEC, NECO and other examinations. But on the day of the attack, hoodlums invaded a three-storey building situated at Barracks area of the community and started carting away everything on sight, looted “down and dry” all shops and stores at the last floor of the building.
Ajekigbe’s apartment where he resides and does his business is a second floor of the building— and of course, it was not spared. His sin was he is a neighbour to the Customs officers who many of the thugs targeted in their heinous onslaught.
“I am a tenant here. I lived with the Customs officers. When those boys came, they destroyed all the materials and laptops that we use. What I do is to register students and candidates for WAEC, NECO and JAMB.
“They destroyed all the photocopier machines, took away freezers, generator and my clothes. The only thing left for me is the cloth you see on me. They destroyed everything including all the properties of my children and carted away all the mattresses that we sleep on.
“I want the government to help us because there is nothing left. The registrations of candidates for exams) that were ongoing have been put on hold,” Ajekigbe said as sympathisers were trying to remind him of other things stolen by the thugs.
While narrating how the incident happened, Ajekigbe said he went out Shonly to come back and see hoodlums in large number in his office and rooms.
He maintained that the more he tried to explain to the criminal looters that his apartment was not of the Customs officers, the more they were beating him with the dangerous weapons like machetes.
Ajekigbe narrated further that as he struggled to fight back to ensure that his generator was not stolen, some “boys” were beating him from the back. He did not have a choice than to leave it for them.
“They stole my properties and in my presence they were selling it. Those boys who perpetrated the evils are indigenes from Ekunle, Isalu and other areas. Since the incident happened, nobody has ever come to me from the government,” he further explained, calling on the government to help his business because everything is gone.
Another victim is a teacher (real name not given) also living some steps away from Ajekigbe’s apartment.
Her own residence (Taiwo House) is a two-storey facing the Union Bank. When this reporter was led to her apartment, every room (from parlour to kitchen and store) reeked of destruction. Her sin also was that she lives in the same compound with some Customs officers.
“They just stormed my room and started to take away my phones and other valuables in my presence. If not for some guys who stopped them, all my belongings would have by now gone because it is in my presence they were trying to remove my Plasma TV,” She said as she led this reporter to other rooms where they thugs similarly invaded.
“They took our food and broke the glasses of my kitchen. They wanted to take away a bag of rice that I bought for family consumption (she showed this reporter) but they later had a change of mind. They damaged a lot of things. They wanted to kill me but it was God that saved me.”
She later led this reporter to where properties were destroyed which included a Customs patrol van. On the floors were remnants of broken properties, a Customs uniform.
According to her, generator and fridge belonging to an old woman were stolen while some rooms in the neighbouring apartment were also burgled.
Bank of Agriculture, Immigration office destroyed and looted
Apart from the only police station in the community, also looted and destroyed is a big building located at Oju Baba area which houses a relatively known Bank of Agriculture, Immigration office and some private apartments.
When this reporter visited the building, he met some workers of the bank trying to gather some files and documents scattered by the hoodlums who thought they could find money to steal.
A man who did not want his name mentioned for privacy reason narrated that all banks in Iseyin did not open on that day having had the premonition that there might be looting and vandalisation.
As he toured this reporter round the building, he recounted that the attackers, who were indigenes, stormed the building and headed straight to the bank. He said they destroyed some files and shattered the stores where special documents were kept.
“They vandalized everything and carted away generators before moving to the Immigration office which is upstairs. See this apartment, it belongs to someone who is not in Iseyin right now, and imagine how he would feel learning that his apartment has been burgled and everything stolen,” he said as he showed this reporter the way to the Immigration office.
This reporter headed to the Immigration office and met some officers on the ground trying to put everything in order.
They were not around when their office was invaded by the hoodlums. So when this reporter approached them, Assistant Controller Ogunwole, the unit commander of Iseyin border patrol, narrated that the attack caught his men unaware.
“The hoodlums invaded this place and carted away both privates and government properties. They took away three machines (motorcycles), went to our quarters along Oyo road and carted away our belongings.
“Factually, everything here is gone. There is nothing we can do to stop them than to try and save our own lives. In fact, all our phones are gone. Everybody is just trying to play safe. It is a general phenomenon."
Assistant Controller Ogunwole, however, said none of his men was attacked.
Some suspected hoodlums finally arrested by police with exhibits
A week after the attack, Oyo police command precisely on Wednesday, October 28, stated that it has arrested nine suspected thugs and arsonists over their alleged role in the wanton destruction and looting of properties in Iseyin.
In a statement by the command's public relation officer, SP Olugbenga Fadeyi, the state police commissioner, Joe Nwachukwu Enwonwu, noted that the EndSARS protest was hijacked, thus the violence and vandalism that trailed the demonstration.
He gave the names of the suspects as Sikiru Aliyu (25), Fasasi Fatai Lemon (24), Isiaka Olaniyi (32), Raheem Toheeb (28) and Adeleke Akeem (42), Taoreed Hamzat (26), Tajudeen Ibrahim (40), Moshood Fatai Elewure (39), Musibau Abubakar Stainless (21).
Speaking in Iseyin during a public briefing with residents of the community, the traditional council and necessary stakeholders, CP Enwonwu disclosed that six police officers were "gruesomely murdered" during the violence-ridden protest.
According to him, the arrested criminal elements will provide clues into how their accomplices will be arrested.
“Upon interrogations, the suspects confessed to the crimes and also gave useful information that will lead to the arrest of other hoodlums who participated in the criminal looting."
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