The Federal Government of Nigeria, the Government of Lagos State and the Nigeria Police have warned the youths against its planned Lekki toll gate protest on Saturday.
Youths had vowed to stage a protest following the decision of the government to open the Lekki toll gate without the conclusion of the hearing on the killings of youths at the toll gate on 20 October, 2020 during the #EndSARS protest.
The #EndSARS campaign was organised to protest the killings and other human rights abuses of the Nigeria Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in October 2020. The protest led to the gruesome killing of youths who were protesting peacefully with the Nigerian Flag in their hands at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020.
The FG in its reaction to the planned protest #OccupyLekkiprotest warned that it would not allow act of violence under the guise of protests.
The Lagos State Government also warned that it would not tolerate destruction of lives and properties in the state.
The organisers of the protest accused Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State of deliberately seeking to cover up the killing of many peaceful protesters at the toll gate.
The accusation was contained in a statement titled, ‘EndSARS Season 2: Why we will #OccupyLekkiTollGate on Saturday’.
“After committing genocide by killing scores of people who were peacefully protesting at Lekki toll gate and other parts of Lagos, Governor Sanwo-Olu and other oppressors want to spit on the dead and dance on the blood of the innocent by reopening the gate to be collecting their blood money again.
“We say no! We are undaunted! We will be occupying Lekki toll gate again starting from Saturday, February 13. We urge all well-meaning Nigerians to storm back all the barricades, as our rulers have shown that they can never change. Since the #EndSARS, they are yet to effect any of the promises. Police brutality is still raging and SARS is still operating.
“Despite overwhelming and highly compelling evidence showing how several protesters were shot by the military, no single military official has been brought to book. Deaths have been established and many victims of the Lekki shootings have surfaced, yet neither the victims nor families of our deceased colleagues have got justice.
“After close to five months of sitting, the judicial panel meant to inquire into the Lekki massacre has refused to deliver justice to victims of the massacre most of whom have either lost their limbs due to gun wounds or have become deceased.”
“The Nigerian government now negotiates and enriches terrorists and bandits while chasing after, arresting, shooting and killing protesters. It is to this end that we call on you all to come out en masse to demand not just justice for victims and fallen heroes of the October 20 killings, but that all involved in this heinous criminality be brought to book,” the statement added.
One of the youths identified as Ajayi who spoke to The Punch said; “Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. We are not just calling for the protest, we are ensuring that it does not go haywire. The protest is like rain that cannot be controlled. We want a constitutional peaceful protest; the working people have agreed to make it peaceful, except the state wants to make it otherwise as they have always been doing.
“The working people will be out. We have passed through this stage before. During the #EndSARS protest, before October 20, they started killing people. The more they killed, the more the people came out. They started from Ogbomosho, went to Delta and deployed thugs in Abuja. The more the violence, the more the people will come out because they feel you cannot enslave them in their own country. It’s about the working people of Nigeria represented by the new youth, who do not even see a future, let alone having one.”
Federal Government vows to stop Saturday protest
Reacting to the development, the Federal Government in a statement issued by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, noted that FG would not allow any further resort to violence in the name of #EndSARS protest.
He noted that only peaceful protests are allowed constitutionally, adding that violent protests are not.
The FG in a statement titlted, ‘Perpetration of violence under the guise of #EndSARS: Never again – FG,” noted that the chances that a peaceful protest would be hijacked at this time were very high.
According to Mr. Lai, the FG has intelligence revealing that some Nigerian activists had linked up with others outside the country (“including subversive elements”), with a view to destablise Nigeria.
“We cannot and must not allow this to happen,” he said.
“Any further resort to violence in the name of EndSARS will not be tolerated this time.
“The security agents are ready for any eventuality. A situation in which six soldiers and 37 policemen were murdered in cold blood by hoodlums will not repeat itself. The attack, looting and razing of 269 private and public properties will not happen again. The killing of 57 civilians will not be re-enacted.
“We therefore strongly warn those who are planning to re-occupy Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday to desist. We know that many of those who have been loudest on social media in advertising the plan to reconvene in Lagos on Saturday are not even in Nigeria.
“They are elsewhere around the world fanning the embers of violence and inciting gullible people back home. No one should fall for their antics. No government anywhere will allow a repeat of the kind of destruction, killing and maiming wrought by the hijackers of EndSARS protests last year.”
FG further accused social media platforms of nudging the protesters until the situation got out of hand.
The Minister said that there was no way the toll gate could be left closed till when the panel had conclude its sitting.
Mr. Lai noted that security agents will do their work if youths went ahead with the protest tomorrow.
“Security agents will do their work,” he said.
Lagos State Government says the state won’t be allowed to be pushed into carnage again
Reacting to the forthcoming protest, the Government of Lagos State said that it would not allow the state to be pushed to the edge of carnage again. It advised the protest organisers of ‘Occupy Lekki Toll Gate’ and ‘Defend Lagos’ to cancel the planned action, saying that “It is not an auspicious moment for such action”.
Consequently, the state government directed the Lagos Police Command to stop opposing groups from holding rallies in Lekki and any other parts of Lagos.
The statement released by Gboyega Akosile, the Chief Press Secretary to the Lagos State Governor; the Attorney General of Lagos, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN); Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso; and Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu reads below;
“Attention of the state government has been drawn to the planned protest scheduled for Saturday, February 13, 2021 at the Lekki Toll Gate for and against the opening of the Admiralty Toll Gate.
“The state is aware of Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which guarantees the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. However, such right does not permit the violation of the rights of other citizens in the state.
“Any individual or corporate body that incites or condones any act leading to the destruction of public and private properties shall be prosecuted under the extant laws and in addition to any penalty the court might pronounce.”
Police says no protest will be allowed in Lagos
The Lagos Police Commissioner in his statement noted that no protest would be allowed in Lagos.
According to the CP, intelligence gathering shows that the #OccupyLekkiProtest and the #DefendLagos protest would degenerate into a breakdown of law and order.
Ogbodo ThankGod is currently the Managing Director/CEO/Group Chief Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He was the Chief Editor at NaijaBuzz.News before his new top leadership role. Ogbodo has years of experience in the Nigeria Media Industry and has co-founded some media companies. He is the founder of Ogbodo Solution Nigeria and 1Push.Ng. He loves playing football and is a strong supporter of Lionel Messi who he describes as the greatest footballer of all time.