Featured image by Brian Midtlyng; Pinterest.
Hoodlums invade Ondo prison, release inmates – The Nation
‘Hoodlums’ attack #EndSARS protesters in Abuja, set their cars on fire – TheCable
Many injured as hoodlums attack protesters against insecurity in north – Guardian
One word has been on everyone’s lips in relation to the events that follows the nationwide #EndSARS protests; “Hoodlums”. At a moment when series of crises are occurring almost simultaneously in our dear country Nigeria, it becomes imperative to discuss this issue.
Police brutality and the high-handedness of the now defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS has been a major topic on the internet. However, the unfortunate incident at Ughelli, Delta State seems to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back. A viral video of SARS officers carting away with the vehicle of 20 year old Chibuike Daniel “Sleek” Ikeaguchi after killing him, surfaced online. Widespread reactions trailed this video on social media till it reached its crescendo. Nigerian Youths, mostly from the Southern region of the nation, soon took to the street for public demonstrations and agitations for an end to SARS and Police brutality in the nation.
The protest took place in almost all parts of the nation including, Lagos, Abuja, Portharcourt, Kwara, Edo and many more states. It lasted for about 14 days until the imposition of curfew in some States.
Commencement of Hoodlums Attacks
11 days into the nationwide peaceful protest, news about various attacks on protesters by security personnel and hoodlums started making headlines. Stores got looted, there was a “prison break”, police officers were attacked and their stations set ablaze, and many other ugly news (genuine and false) spread like wild fire. Without prejudice, the prolonged days of protest attracted unwanted elements. The protesters probably should have left the podium while the ovation was high. Unfortunately, they allowed miscreants hijack these protests, staging various attacks on them and public properties. With no doubt, there was a twist in tale.
The peak of unfortunate events surrounding these protests is the Lekki “Massacre”. A number of protesters who defied the curfew order in Lagos, on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, were allegedly attacked by military men at the Lekki Toll Gate. Although, the Nigerian Army had denied this story, the state’s Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu, in a speech, confirmed that the protesters were attacked by the Men of the Military stating that has a sitting governor, he couldn’t have given an engagement order.
The State government and the Nigerian Army are in discord over this issue. The actual shooters at the Lekki Toll Gate are yet to be identified. There are speculations that an external body committed the horrible act of impersonating the Armed force and unleashed terror on the land. We, however, await the outcome of the Investigation being carried out by the government.
Hoodlums also attacked #EndInsecurityNow Protesters in the North
While the south engaged the government over police brutality, the North under the auspice of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) engaged the government on matters concerning insecurity in the state.
Despite their different agitations, it is worthy to note that the northerners were also attacked by hoodlums. In Kano, the leader of the protest, Aminu Sparrow and the DSP Abdullahi Haruna confirmed the horrific incident.
Who really are these Hoodlums?
Many questions comes to mind at this point, Who are the Hoodlums? Who hired them? Why are they hired?
Who is an Hoodlum?
An attempt to answering this question requires a bit of contextualizing.
Hoodlums can be referred to as thugs, louts, Area Boys, Agberos etc. According to Wikipedia, area boys “are loosely organized gangs of street children and teenagers, composed mostly of males, who roam the streets of major cities in Nigeria, including Lagos, Ibadan, Onitsha, Aba, Umuahia, Akure, Ado-Ekiti and Enugu.”
These “street boys” are known to be architect of series of crimes in their hood. Crimes including but not limited to pick pocketing, robbery, rape, harassments and many more. In view of the foregoing, attributing the disruption of the peaceful protest to them becomes quite easy.
Why did the Hoodlums attack?
This is a big question. Could it be the protest gave an opportunity for them to unleash their “potentials”? Did they see a chance to commit crimes in guise of protesting and decided to take it?
Were they hired?
The series of video reports showed that the hoodlums attacked the protesters in the presence of security personnel. Why were they not stopped by these security personnel? Or like many believe, are they sponsored by public office holders? Are the Hoodlums ‘Political Thugs?’
In Nigeria, we have witnessed many occasions political thugs attacked the electorate during election and enable all kinds of electoral malpractices. Should we, therefore, conclude that the hoodlums are political thugs used against protesters to shun their agitations? Do they have an influential political personality who is being negatively affected by the protesst? or one who aimed at using the protest for political reasons?
The answers to these questions, we believe, will one day surface. Like the popular saying, “the truth is like a Calabash gourd pressed under a river, it would keep resurfacing.”
A Message to the Youths
If youths could attack fellow youths who are fighting for a better Nigeria, then no doubt, the youths are still divided. Therefore, It is time to rise against this division. It is time to fight this division. It is time to embrace oneness. United, we will always stand, and divided, we will unavoidably fall.