The EndSARS protesters who were demonstrating peacefully in Abuja were attacked by a group of assailants Wednesday afternoon.
Protesters calling for police reform gathered for a seventh day of protest Thursday morning at the Berger roundabout of the Nigerian capital.
As has been the norm, the protesters were largely peaceful but blocked the roads leading to the roundabout.
However, around 1 p.m., a large group of unknown men converged on the protesters wielding wooden clubs and other weapons.
Several protesters told this reporter that there was an initial moment of confusion among the crowd as the group of young men did not identify themselves. The mood quickly changed when the assailants began breaking the windscreens of parked cars and attacking members of the protest.
One of the medics stationed at the protests, who identified himself as Dr. Jay, explained to PREMIUM TIMES that the men were deliberately targeting protesters, including a woman who had to be rushed to the Jabi Medical Center after receiving blows to the head.
Nonetheless, determined to stand their ground, a group of protesters turned on the assailants, seriously injuring several of them. The injured assailants were also treated by the medical team.
According to Dr. Jay, two of the injured assailants were then driven by the ambulances to a nearby hospital.
Members of the protest who caught the assailants have been sharing unconfirmed rumors on social media that at least one of the young men admitted to having received N1,500 to attack the #EndSARS movement.
There is a strong sense among the protesters that the “thugs” were sent by loyalists of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC. That information could not be verified.
Following the violent encounter, things regained a semblance of normalcy as protesters went back to chanting slogans calling for police reform and continued to occupy the junction.
The #EndSARS protest across the country have continued despite the government’s promise of comprehensive police reform.
At least 10 protesters have been killed by security officials across Nigeria, according to Amnesty International.
Two police officers have also been killed, allegedly by protesters in Lagos and Delta states.