There was a new twist to the raging #EndSARS protests on Thursday as some youths launched #EndInsecurityNow protests in Kaduna and Niger states.
The youths, who took to the streets in the two states, said the Federal Government should scrap the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and redeploy its operatives to tackle insurgency in the Northeast and banditry in Northwest and Northcentral.
Launching #EndInsecurityNow version of the protest in Kaduna, the protesters under the auspices of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), called for an immediate end to insecurity and killings in the region.
They urged the Federal Government to deploy operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to combat kidnapping, armed banditry and terrorism in Northern Nigeria.
Leader of the protest and coordinator of the Kaduna chapter of the CNG, Sa’ad Bako said, though they stand against reported harassment of citizens by the operatives of the disbanded SARS, the “North’s problem is not SARS, but insecurity”.
He listed security, occasioned by incessant killings by bandits and terrorists, as well as kidnapping for ransom as the North’s major challenges.
The protesters who stormed the streets of Kaduna around 9:30am marched from Muhammadu Buhari Way to the House of Assembly through Ali Akilu road.
At the Kaduna State House of Assembly Complex, they demanded immediate end to banditry, terrorism and kidnappings in Northern Nigeria.
The protesters carried placard and banners with various inscriptions: “The North is Bleeding”, “Stop the killings in the North’s”; “End Boko Haram Now”; “End Banditry Now”; “Empower SWAT to End Insecurity; “All Lives Matter”; and “Stop Rape Now”; among others.
They were, however, prevented from gaining access by armed security personnel. But they converged on the Coronation Crescent, the road in front of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, preventing traffic flow.
The protestant vowed not to leave the road until the Speaker, Yusuf Zailani, listened to their demands.
They said the armed security personnel should go after the kidnappers and bandits, instead of scaring innocent citizens.
Zailan later addressed them through House spokesman (member representing Kachia State Constituency), Ahmed Tanimu.
According to Bako, the protesters were out to protest the incessant killings, kidnapping, cattle rustling, banditry and terrorism in the North.
Bako said, while they respected the right of those protesting against SARS in other parts of the country, they felt SARS was not the problem of their region, hence, their resolve to come out to say enough of the killings.
He said: “We have come out to say the insecurity in our communities is no longer bearable. And before it will consume us all, we have come out to tell our elected representatives that, we are dying and we need an end to this insecurity.”
Bako, however, presented the protesters written demands to the representative of the Speaker.
Responding, the Speaker’s representative assured the protesters that, their demands would be given consideration and actions would be taken on them.
He urged them to be peaceful in their protests and avoid taking laws into their hands.
The protesters were also at the Lugard Roundabout where they continued singing. They later dispersed at about 1:30pm with a promise to converge on the roundabout by 9:00am on Friday for continuation of the protest.
In Minna, the Niger State capital, some youths held the #EndBanditryNow protest.
The group began their peaceful walk at about 9am from the Minna City Gate to the Minna Mobil roundabout.
They held placards with inscriptions: “End Banditry”; “Stop the killings in the North”; “Fix our roads”; and “End Bad Roads in Niger”; among others.
The protesters were led by the Northcentral coordinator of the Coalition of Northern Youths (CNY), Mohammed Mohammed.
He said they were protesting insecurity, bad roads and asking for the deployment of SWAT to the North to fight banditry.
Mohammed said youths were tired of bandit attacks as a lot of people have lost their livelihood and homes due to these incessant attacks, especially in Shiroro and Rafi local government areas of Niger state.
The protesters bemoaned the low turnout, saying that despite the messages sent to people and groups in the state capital they did not show up.