Police Commands across Nigeria have begun making arrests after widespread looting, arson and vandalisation of public and private property across the country by a mob which took advantage of legitimate protests against police brutality to unleash mayhem across the country.
Mastermind arrested, loot recovery ongoing in Cross River
In Cross River State, the Police on Monday announced the arrest of one Johnson Richard-Inem which it described as the mastermind of the Oct. 24 looting and vandalism at the Calabar International Conference Centre.
Hoodlums, who hijacked the protest, looted the state government’s warehouse in Calabar on Oct 23 before going on to loot private residences on Oct. 24 and set many properties ablaze. Sen. Gershom Bassey, who represents Cross River South in the Senate and former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, were some of their victims. They even set Ndoma-Egba’s vehicles on fire.
The hoodlums also vandalised the offices of the Department of Petroleum Resources, the NLC, INEC and supermarkets.
The Police said items recovered from Richard-Inem include chillers, over 1000 pieces of customised chairs and customised designer carpets, among other items have been recovered from the suspect.
According to the State Police Commissioner, Mr Abdulkadir Jimoh, Richard-Inem, who is an automobile mechanic, was arrested at Esuk Otu, behind NTA Calabar, with the items based on actionable intelligence during the house-to-house search which started on Sunday in the state.
He added that more than 80 hoodlums have been arrested over their alleged involvement in the vandalism of some government and private property on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 in Calabar.
The command also apprehended those who allegedly looted private offices and homes as well as those who reportedly invaded the office of National Assembly members with some of the looted items already recovered.
While speaking to journalists on Monday in Calabar, the State Commissioner of Police urged the traditional rulers, community leaders, faith organisations, youths as well as community policing committees, including the people of the state to expose the looters.
He also said looters have 24 hours to return all the looted items before the house-to-house search gets to them, as recovery of looted items is ongoing,” he said.
Jimoh warned landlords and parents not to hide or cover up for any criminal in their environment, adding that the ongoing house-to-house search was business as usual.
“No criminal element will be spared; no one who vandalised government property or looted personal effects and invaded people’s private offices will go unpunished; they will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
“We are already working in synergy with other sister agencies in a bid to fish out the bad eggs as well as recover the looted items.
“I will advise all those who are in possession of such items to, in their own interest, bring them or face justice,” he said.
“We have put plain cloth personnel in place to cultivate intelligence and to ensure that all perpetrators and receivers are arrested and brought to book.
“Anyone who still has looted items in their possession is warned to return them within the next 24 hours. So far, we have recovered over 1000 customised chairs, chillers, rug carpets, air conditioners and many other items.
“We are not resting on our oars; we also want to urge traditional rulers and religious leaders to make announcements in their various domains by urging those who took government property to return them immediately,” he said.
To further aid the efforts of the security agencies, Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has promised a reward of N100,000 to anyone who volunteered information that could lead to the recovery of property looted during the #EndSARS protests of .Oct. 23 and Oct. 24.
Mr Christian Ita, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the governor said in a statement issued in Calabar on Monday that whistle blowers should call 08034500531 to give such information.
Suspects arrested over attack on police facilities in Ekiti
In Ekiti, the police on Monday paraded six suspects over alleged attack on three police facilities in Ekiti during the EndSARS protest.
Two of the suspects paraded are minors, Odeyemi Sina, aged 12, and Ayomide Akomolafe (13). Other suspects paraded are Alao Emmanuel, Ojuko Tobi, Sunday Salihu and Kosedake Olamilekan.
People suspected to be hoodlums last week razed two Divisional Police Stations and the Area Command office in Ikere Ekiti when the EndSARS protest was hijacked.
Parading the suspects, Mr Sunday Abutu, the Police Public Relations Officer in the State, said the minors were arrested at the scene of the incident.
According to him, the suspects were caught in the act and they have confessed to the crime.
Abutu added that the suspects and others, now at large, also looted the exhibit room and set the Station ablaze, including all the vehicles parked in and around the stations.
Abutu said: “When the EndSARS protest started, everything was done peacefully until the 20th of October when some hoodlums stormed our Area Command in Ikere Divisional Police Station and burnt the police station and vehicles there.
“They also went to two other divisional police stations, particularly the Afao Ikere division, and set the stations and vehicles there ablaze. Some police officers were even wounded while others had to run for their lives.
“A Joint Operation Team of the Police, the Military and other security Agencies was immediately deployed to the scene to stop further damage.
“In the process, six suspects were arrested at the scene of crime while others ran away. In their confessional statements, the suspects agreed that they actively participated in the burning of the police stations.
“We are spreading our dragnets and all the names mentioned by these suspects will be arrested. They are all at large, but we are trailing them and in the course of investigation, they will be apprehended,” Abutu said.
25 suspects in the net, vehicles recovered in Kaduna
Also, the Kaduna State Police Command says it has arrested 25 suspects for allegedly looting private and public property, as hoodlums hijacked the #EndSARS protests.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige, said this at a press conference in Kaduna on Monday.
He said that following the current trend of #EndSARS protests in the country and the subsequent hijacking of the protests by hoodlums, the state witnessed the looting and destruction of property.
He said consequently the state government imposed a 24-hour curfew to curb criminal activities of the miscreants.
Jalige said that with the responsibility of enforcing law and order placed on the police and other sister security agencies, the command went into action.
He said that in view of this, the command apprehended 25 suspects for alleged criminal conspiracy, vandalism and looting of public and private property.
Jalige listed some of the exhibits recovered from the suspects to include, three Toyota buses, one Mercedes Benz, one Golf car and one Toyota Camry.
He said that others include six Boxer motorcycles of which three were unregistered, six bed foams, one bundle of zinc, eight tricycles, 29 bags of grains and 32 pieces of plant fibre mosquito coils.
He noted that some medical items and drugs, including electrical gadgets, among others were recovered.
According to him, the police, alongside other security agencies, are still working to ensure that more offenders are arrested.
The 25 suspects were immediately charged to court for prosecution
Looters of Shoprite, others arrested in Kwara
In Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, two Magistrates’ Courts on Monday ordered the remand of 34 suspects in Oke–Kura Correctional Centre, for their alleged involvement in looting and destruction of Kwara Mall and other stores.
The police charged them charged with Criminal conspiracy, brigandage, theft, belonging to gang of thieves, destruction of public and private property.
Magistrate Ibrahim Mohammed, however did not take the pleas of the 15 suspects.
Also, out Magistrate Afusat Alege, did not take the pleas of the remaining 19 suspects.
Both Mohammed and Alege held that the courts lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Magistrate Mohammed adjourned the matter until Nov. 9 while Magistrate Alege adjourned until Nov.
Also, the police command in Kwara said it has arrested 144 suspected hoodlums who disguised as #ENDSARS protesters and looted government and private property in the state.
The state Commissioner of Police Mr Kayode Egbetokun, said this while briefing newsmen at the police headquarters in Ilorin on Monday.
Egbetokun said all the suspects were arrested with looted items in their possession, adding that the command would ensure that all those who looted public and private property were apprehended and the stolen items recovered.
He said the police would continue to comb all parts of the state to arrest those involved in the criminal act.
According to him, the police, in collaboration with other security agencies, will ensure no culprit is allowed to escape.
Egbetokun therefore, advised those in possession of stolen items to willingly surrender them to the police.
“Whoever returns those items willingly, will be pardoned,” he said.
He, however, called on members of the public to assist the police by volunteering prompt and useful information.
According to him, the police will ensure that informants are adequately protected.
307 supects nabbed in Plateau
In Plateau State, Government says it has arrested 307 suspects over the recent destruction and looting of public and private properties in the state, as at Oct. 26.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Danladi Atu, disclosed this at a news conference on Monday at the Government House, Jos. According to Atu, security agencies have commenced massive hunt of looters, in a bid to get them prosecuted, warning that no perpetrator would be spared.
He said this would serve as deterrent to others.
“No act of illegality or criminality will be spared ,” he warned.
He said at the end of a security council meeting held earlier, the State Government had resolved to fortify all check points in Jos South and Jos North local government areas to enforce compliance of the 24-hour curfew.
He said a meeting was held on Oct. 21 with traditional and community leaders, and that one of the resolutions reached was a step-down engagement with their subjects, but regretted that the action was not adopted.
“In our last engagement, the resolution they took themselves was that they were going back to address their people.
“Regrettably, the security council has noted that more than 70 per cent of these community and traditional leaders have not engaged their people; if they had engaged their people, perhaps their subjects would not have been found in this wanton destruction.
“Government calls on them to do so and submit their report latest by next Monday,” the SSG said.
He said the curfew was still in force until the security situation improved and people showed compliance with the order.
He cautioned the looters against using chemically treated food items, saying they were dangerous for their health as they were preserved to be only used as seedlings.
“Some of the looted items are dangerous for human consumption, because they have been chemically treated and not good for consumption, especially the food items carted away, such as maize.
” It was preserved for seedlings but was carted away from the silos. Those who looted it should be careful about utilising it,” Atu said.
He commended the security agencies for their conduct in the face of provocation, saying the public should not perceive the action as a sign of weakness.
He said the state security council advised members of the public to be wary of propaganda and disinformation, to incite the people against government through the social media.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner of Justice , Mr Chrisantus Ahmadu, said that seven courts had been established for the trial of the offenders, and that they would commence operation on Oct. 27. Ahmadu said the action was for speedy trial of the suspects, adding, those found guilty would face appropriate legal action. According to him, the courts will also commence prosecution of violators of the curfew.
He appealed to parents to warn their children and wards to desist from violating goverment directives, saying the decision was to ensure law and order was maintained in the state.
Newsmen report that some of the looted and vandalised properties included State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) warehouse, Plateau Agricultural Development Programme (PADP) and Plateau Publishing Company.
Others are the residence of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
51 suspects nabbed in Abuja
Also, the police command in the Federal Capital Territory said it has arrested 51 suspected looters and recovered some stolen items at Jabi-Daki-biu, Idu industrial Estate Karim area.
FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr Bala Ciroma, made the disclosure at a news conference on Monday in Abuja.
Ciroma explained that the operation that led to the arrest was necessitated by the looting and destruction of public and private warehouses in the territory by some suspected hoodlums.
” It is on record that in the last two weeks, the FCT and other parts of the federation have witnessed various forms of protest and demonstration under different guise.
”Some of which have taken different colouration and dimensions which has resulted into loss of lives, destruction of property and looting.
” In the bid to ensure the protection of lives and property within the territory, the command has arrested 51suspected looters and recovered looted items,” he said.
The commissioner of police warned people involved in all forms of criminality to desist from such acts, especially looting and vandalisation of public property in the FCT.
He said that the command would not condone acts capable of undermining the safety of lives and property of residents in the territory.
He said that in compliance with the directive by the Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Abubakar, the command has deployed tactical strategies such as diligent motorised and foot patrols to curb crime in the FCT.
Ciroma also said that the command has also deployed personnels to secure key infrastructure in the territory in collaboration with sister security agencies and community stakeholders.
He appealed to residents to remain law abiding and calm.
Looters of tractor, others in the net in Adamawa
The Police Command in Adamawa has arrested 120 suspected hoodlums who disguised as #ENDSARS protesters and looted items from government and private warehouses on Sunday.
DSP Suleiman Nguroje, spokesman for the command said this while speaking with newsmen on Monday in Yola.
Nguroje said that the command recovered many stolen items from the suspects including tractors, cars and farm implements.
He said that investigation was ongoing to arrest other suspects and recover more stolen items.
According to him, the suspects will be prosecuted in law courts at the end of investigations.
He urged residents of the state to maintain peace, law and order in their respective communities.
He assured that police would do everything possible to protect life and property of the people.
Newsmen report that the hoodlums looted COVID-19 palliatives which were mainly food items and other government and private property.
Some of the warehouses looted included that of the State Government, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), North East Commodity Association (NECAS), Agricultural Mechanisation Project and Agricultural Development Agency (ADP).
Call for caution
Reacting to the gale of arrests, the Centre for Human and Socio-economic Rights (CHSR) on Monday advised the Nigeria Police to do due diligence and proper screening before prosecuting those arrested for violence and looting that trailed #EndSARS protests in some states.
The National President of CHSR, Mr Alex Omotehinse, made this plea in a statement in Lagos following the police arrest of some persons suspected to be involved in the massive looting and destruction of public and private property recently.
“Our attention has been drawn to the arrest of some Nigerians in connection with the anarchism that befell the country after the shooting of the #EndSARS protesters, which resulted in looting, maiming and burning of public property.
“We want to use this medium to appeal to the police authority – the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State command and the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Zone 2, to please ensure there should not be any transfer of aggression to the suspects.
“There must be painstaking screening of the acclaimed over 200 suspects arrested so far in connection with the illegal acts in Lagos.
“It is obvious that some innocent citizens can be among the victims of circumstance,” Omotehinse said.
According to him, the CHSR has been receiving complaints since Saturday from some victims’ relatives that their children were arrested in some areas where there were no crisis and they were joined together with those picked from scenes of the incident.
He added: “We do not want to believe this to be true.
“CHSR, as reputable right group, is in full support of the police to bring all the evil perpetrators to book.
“But we are also appealing that a due diligence and unbiased screening should be conducted for the arrested suspects before prosecution.
“The report reaching us is that some families have been denied access to their children since Friday (Oct. 23), due to the nature of the case.”
Omotehinse said that the police should ensure that only the culprits and criminals suffer for their illegal deeds.
“We are appealing to the police authority to please ensure that if it is only five people found to be culpable out of the over 200 suspects arrested, they should be the only people that should be made to face the wrath of the law.“This is better than to prosecute all the arrested suspects just because some police stations and officers were affected in the fracas.
“The law says it is better for 99 accused to escape justice than to convict one innocent wrongly,” he said.