Television Continental (TVC) returned to air on Saturday, four days after arsonists shouting “We have our targets” swooped on the complex at Ketu-Ikosi, Lagos and burnt it down.
The station was one of the many public and private assets targeted for destruction by hoodlums who hijacked the #ENDSARS protests.
According to an eyewitness to the orgy of violence at TVC, Mark Odigie, the arsonists appeared well educated.
Odigie, an information technologist, had conveyed his wife, Tope, to TVC on the fateful day for a programme presentation when the vandals unexpectedly struck.
His plan was to wait for Tope to conclude her presentation by 11 am so they could return home together.
Consequently, he stayed back in his Mazda CX-9 SUV in the car park whiling away time.
Then came the arsonists; young men bearing dangerous weapons like machetes, axes, knives, sticks and petrol bombs.
They appeared too “sophisticated attackers to be called miscreants,” Odigie told online publication, Premium Times.
He said: “I couldn’t call these guys (the arsonists) miscreants. They were pretty much educated, and spoke good English.
“They were very organised, and chanted: ‘No killing, no killing; just destroy, just destroy. We have our targets.’
“It was at that point that I began to wonder what was really going on. They were very clear about what they came for.”
He said as soon as the arsonists entered the compound, the policemen (about 20) who were deployed there quickly fled the scene.
Some other staff also scampered to safety while his wife, who was in the studio, was oblivious of the danger lurking around.
The hoodlums’ began their assignment in earnest. The set about setting vehicles and the building on fire.
But Odigie was determined to rescue his wife come what may.
After failing to convince some policemen who were close by to assist in rescuing the trapped TVC staff, Odigie suddenly “developed a heart of stone and decided to go in because I wanted to rescue my wife.
“I felt whatever that would happen should happen. So I begged a few TVC workers who were also standing at the CMD gate to join me. About five of them summoned courage and agreed to go in with me. Some ladies kept shouting and were crying as if we were going to die.
“So we went in, and saw hundreds of the attackers. They shouted at us asking us who we were. We raised our hands and simply replied: ‘We are with you.’
“We told them our colleagues were still in there. And surprisingly, they listened to us. They told us they already rescued everybody. They said they were not interested in killing anyone.”
Mr. Odigie said when he insisted that his wife was still trapped in the building, they volunteered to take them out of the compound to see those they had rescued.
“So they took us to the back where we met another crowd who were throwing petrol bombs and chanting ‘no killing, no killing.’
“As soon as we were brought before them, the crowd charged at us, but one of them that led us there quickly took charge and explained what happened.”
The TVC attack was similar to what transpired a few moments later at the premises of The Nation newspaper, Matori, Lagos when armed men riding on motorcycles opened fire and sought to burn down the company.
Their efforts failed although some cars parked on the premises were burnt. The paper returned to the newsstands 48 hours later.