17th February, 2011
Economic and social activities were paralysed for several hours on Wednesday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, following a violent protest by youths against the abandoned Olulande-Ita-Alamu-Offa Garage road.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that several people including one policeman were seriously injured during the protest.
The violent protest started as early as 6.30 a.m. by youths in the area, who barricaded major roads and link roads to the Offa Garage-Ajasse Ipo road with bricks and blocks.
The angry youths also set up several bon fire along the road from Michael Imodu Labour Studies Institute junction up to Ola-Olu-Stella Obasanjo junction.
The youths in their thousands were chanting anti government slogans like: â€œKwara Must be freeâ€; â€œNo to slavery by Saraki, Bukola and Gbemiâ€, â€œLeave our state now Sarakiâ€, among others.
It took the anti-riot policemen several hours before they could restore order and normalcy to the road as several canister of tear gas were fired to disperse the protesters.
Kwara state Fire Service were also brought in by the government to put out the bon fire and tyres set ablaze by the angry mob.
Speaking with NAN one of the protesters, who spoke under condition of anonymity, explained that life had become unbearable for people living along the 2.5 kilometre road.
Reacting to the incident, Mr Bode Olayemi, the state Commissioner for Works and Transport, told newsmen that the road was a federal road being constructed by the state because of its concern for the people.
He pointed out that the road was still ongoing and not an abandoned project as claimed by the protesting youths.
The commissioner said that the government was not unaware of the difficulties being faced by the people.
Olayemi noted that the sum of N363 million had been paid as mobilisation fee to the contractor handling the project, which is due for completion before the expiration of the tenure of the present administration.
Olayemi, who addressed the news briefing together with the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr Ben Duntoye, appealed to members of the public and protesting youths to exercise patience.
He said that incidentally the contractor was expected to move back to site on Wednesday but could not due to the disturbance.
Olayemi said that the contractor had been instructed to put speed breaker on the road in order to reduce the dust in the area.
Mr Ezekiel Dabo, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the Kwara Command, in his reaction urged the people of Kwara not to take laws into their hands as government was doing everything within its reach to fix the road.
Dabo told NAN that normalcy had since returned to the area following the early hours disturbances by the youth, which disrupted vehicular movement for several hours.