It was chaotic in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on Wednesday as pro-SARS and #EndSARS campaigners clashed.
Many people were injured and vehicles vandalised during the incident at the busy Berger Roundabout.
Before the clash, the #EndSARS campaigners marched at the roundabout chanting: “End police Brutality now”.
The protesters, ever-growing in number, blocked the junction, creating gridlock for hours and almost grinding commercial activities to a halt.
At about 12:30 pm, the pro-SARS campaigners were seen marching towards the junction and shortly after, pandemonium erupted.
The protesters fled in different directions as gunshots were heard and vehicles were smashed.
Some tried to defend themselves as the invading groups attacked the protesters with sticks and machetes, destroying anything else in their path.
Some of the youths responded and beat up some of their attackers, who they accused of being thugs.
Policemen and other security agencies tried to restore order. Nobody died.
Twitter users claimed the “thugs were sent to attack harmless protesters, but got more than they bargained”.
Popular comedian Mr Macaroni tweeted: “I fear who no fear Abuja ooo!! Pro-SARS miscreants went to disrupt protest.
“They flogged them and put them in ambulance for treatment. Wahala for who wan disrupt our protest ooo!!!”
Another user, Wale Adetona, tweeted: “Pro-SARS thugs have been rented to hijack the peaceful protest at Berger Bridge, Abuja.”
Before the clash, the #EndSARS protesters expressed anger at the setting up of the Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) unit by the Inspector General of Police Adamu to replace the scrapped Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“We will not back down from this protest. How can you just disband the notorious SARS and immediately create another unit for the same set of criminals? We say no to that,” one of them said.
Another protester said: “How can it be possible within 24hrs to hurriedly assemble a squad? It is a way to reintroduce SARS.”
The youths said they were also protesting against injustice and bad governance which insensitive leaders brought upon the suffering masses.
Others asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sign an Executive Order on the dissolution of SARS.
The FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, said he had ordered an investigation into the clash.
He said the intervention of his men saved the situation and that no arrests were yet made.
According to him, five vehicles were damaged in the clash.
A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, said the new tactical team will be strictly intelligence-driven.
A coalition of civil society organisations applauded President Buhari and the IGP for disbanding SARS.
At a rally in support of police and other security agencies at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, the coalition condemned the continuation of the #ENDSARS protests across some states.
Chief convener of the coalition, Comrade Olayemi Success, believes the #EndSARS protests were “totally uncalled-for and unacceptable”.
He said: “This solidarity march is very important to boost the morale of the policemen and women; for them to know that well-meaning Nigerians appreciate their sacrifices in securing Nigeria.”
The groups believe the new SWAT will “discharge all the responsibilities of the disbanded SARS more professionally and effectively”.
Nwosu added: “These protests must not be treated, superficially, because the emotion that spurred and still spur the #EndSARS movement is more visceral than we are seeing.
“I restate my commendation to President Buhari and the IGP for their responses so far.
“The focus of the reforms should be on ensuring that our youths are given needed protection and concessions in the planning and implementation of government policies, across all sectors.
“To avert a further degeneration of these protests, stakeholders must come together to ensure quick resolution of all the issues that have led to the standoff between our university lecturers and the government.”
In Osun State, protesters removed an APC flag at the House of Assembly and replaced it with a black cloth with the inscription: “#EndSARS forever”.
They converged on the Old-Garage and marched through the Ola-Iya junction through Ogo-Oluwa area to the Assembly complex.
The youths demanded that the Speaker, Timothy Owoeye, should address them.
They accused Governor Gboyega Oyetola and the Speaker of not identifying with them since the protest began.
The Chief Whip, Babatunde Olatunji, wanted to address them, but the protesters refused.
They also marched to the Secretariat, preventing motorists coming from Ibadan/Ede axis from passing through.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an advocacy group in Lagos, urged the #EndSARS protesters to disperse since SARS has been disbanded.
In a statement by its leader, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, the group condemned the excesses of SARS operatives, saying there was justification for the protest, for which the Federal Government responded.
“We frown at the brutal killing of young Nigerians in the hands of the police and consider these as crimes against humanity.
“The protesters should now disperse, go home and organisers of the protest must take responsibility as there is no reason why #EndSARS protest should metamorphose into any other movement.
“We also caution hoodlums and politicians against hijacking the protest for their selfish and parochial agenda,” MURIC said.