Vehicular and human movement were grounded for several hours on Thursday along the Benin – Lagos highway as thousands of young people took over the road, protesting against activities of the Nigeria police and humongous salaries for political office holders.
The carnival-like procession took over the entire highway and the flyover opposite the University of Benin with DJs blasting popular revolutionary songs of Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti, Idris Abdlukareem and several other popular artists.
Among the protesters were student union leaders of the University of Benin who were seen coordinating the demonstration.
Some stranded commuters also became part of the protesters pledging their support for reforms.
Some policemen who came to the scene stayed away from the protesters who conducted themselves peacefully for the almost five hours it lasted.
The President, Students Union Government of the University, Comrade Egwu Benjamin said they decided to add their voices to the protest going on across the country, just as demanded an end to SARS.
“We are adding our voice to what has been happening across the country, and we are demanding an end to SARS. We are saying end SARS and they are giving us SWAT.
“What we are saying is that we want police reforms. The government can do better; it should bring in more intellectuals into the police. More graduates and other intellectuals should come into the police, more persons will become interested. We were told Nigeria is the giant of Africa but now I can’t say our height. What we are saying is end SARS, end SWAT and give us a reformed police”, he said.
On his part, the SUG Public Relations Officer, Comrade Destiny Uanzekin said “This is a new generation and the beginning of a new order. It won’t just be end SARS now because our next point of call is the politicians.
“We are not just fighting just because we want the end of SARS neither are we fighting because we want the end of SWAT, we are fighting for a Nigeria that we believe in; we are fighting for a Nigeria that we trust is going to be happening very soon. We are in the street as youths because we know we have a higher stake in the Nigerian society; we are in the street as youths because we know we have the right as legitimate citizens to air our views.
“This is not illegal, this protest is legal, what they have been doing to us is what is illegal. Killing our youths, killing our sisters and brothers extra-judicially is wrong. The salaries of the people that we vote into government to represent us are being overpaid, let them earn the same salary like civil servants.”
A traveller who identified himself as Osarobo said he couldn’t help but join in the protest, adding that he was consoled with the fact that it is for the right course hence he joined the agitation.
“I may be stranded right now but I am not frustrated because this is an overdue cry to reform the police force and not just SARS. Let police be well paid and see whether POS won’t stop on highways”, he added.