Two days after raising concerns that hoodlums were attacking peace #EndSARS protesters in Benin City, the Edo State Government has imposed “a 24-hour curfew across the state till further notice”.
According to a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Osarodion Ogie, the curfew is to take effect from 4pm on Monday, October 19.
He said: “The Edo State Government hereby imposes a 24-hour curfew across the state till further notice.
“The curfew is to take effect from 4pm, today, October 19, 2020.
“This decision has become necessary because of the very disturbing incidents of vandalism and attacks on private individuals and institutions by hoodlums in the guise of #ENDSARS protesters.
“While the government of Edo State respects the rights of its citizens to undertake legitimate protests, it cannot sit idly when hoodlums have taken laws into their hands to cause mayhem on innocent citizens and the state.
“By the directive, schools and businesses are to shutdown activities accordingly. Those who cannot move safely are to stay put between now and 4pm till calmness is restored.
“Parents are advised to rein in their children, youths and wards, to forestall further breakdown of law and order.
“The responsibility of government is to protect lives and property and maintain law and order, therefore, anyone found outside in violation of the curfew would be dealt with according to the law.”
This above government statement contrasts sharply with Governor Obaseki’s remarks two days earlier where he made a vivid distinction between the #EndSARS peaceful protesters and the hoodlums who were attacking them and now wrecking havoc just to discredit the protests.
He said: “I have just learnt that hoodlums have attacked #ENDSARS protesters, who have conducted themselves peacefully in Benin City. I extend condolences to the victims of the attacks, including those who lost their lives and others who were injured by the thugs.
“It is disheartening that anyone would attack a peaceful assembly of young people, who are expressing genuine concerns over police brutality and intimidation in their own country.
“I hereby call on the Police Command in the state to get out on the streets and provide adequate security for the protesters and ensure that no one is harassed in the course of exercising their rights in Edo State.
“Thorough investigation would be conducted immediately to fish out the culprits of the attack on peaceful #EndSARS protesters in Benin City, and we would do all possible within the law to ensure those culpable are brought to justice.”
Imposing a curfew and making a statement that lumps the #EndSARS protests along with armed bandits who attacked them earlier sounds like a calculated attempt to silence the voices of citizens and deny them their universally guaranteed right to Freedom of Association and Expression.