Lekki Tollgate Reopening: Youth Representative On Lagos #EndSARS Judicial Panel, Rinu Oduala Steps Down

Lekki Tollgate Reopening Youth Representative On Lagos #EndSARS Judicial Panel, Rinu Oduala Steps Down

Rinu Oduala, one of the organisers of the #EndSARS protests, has withdrawn from the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution and Compensation for victims of SARS-related abuses.

Oduala was one of the youth representatives on the panel set up in the wake of the #EndSARS protests.

She said her decision was hinged on the fact that the panel ruled to reopen the Lekki toll gate when the government had not granted justice to victims.

The panel, headed by Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge, had on Saturday ruled in favour of the Lekki Concession Company, LCC, to repossess the toll plaza for repairs and insurance claims.

The ruling was supported by five members of the nine-man panel, with the remaining four members — Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN); Oduala; Temitope Majekodunmi; and another youth representative dissenting to the ruling.

In a statement released on Friday, Oduala described the development as an act of injustice, adding that she will not be part of a cover-up.

She said, “My stand on the reopening of the toll gate remains clear; the state government and the private organisation which operates the toll (gate) have not been cleared of collusion with elements allegedly deployed by the federal government to target Nigerian citizens on home soil during a time of peace, without provocation.

“Justice has not been served, and as a representative of the Nigerian citizenry, my only recourse is to stay the course of justice. Let me be clear: I chose to honour the invitation to represent my peers and to stand as an example that any Nigerian has the right to demand accountability of elected government officials and that our institutions, however flawed, can still deliver justice.

“What I will not do is be part of a cover-up. I am proud that I took the invitation because some of the successes the panel has recorded so far have been incredibly powerful for the people. For the first time, SARS victims have had the opportunity to be truly seen and heard by the government, by the public, and by the system that allowed them to be victims in the first place.”

Oduala said although the panel achieved partial wins, they were not sufficient, since the government had not acknowledged its failings.

“The panel allowed victims of police intimidation and brutality to have their day in the light of justice. They got to expose the violence that was meted out (to them), to experience some catharsis from having the government acknowledge its failures and, in many cases, are going to be receiving some compensation, however inadequate for the disruption to their lives,” she added.

“This is further than we have ever come as a nation, and while this same rigour was not applied to the case of the Lekki Toll shootings, we can at least celebrate the wins that our brothers and sisters can finally claim in their fight for justice, and recognise that our collective will is more powerful than any institution.

“However, partial wins are not enough for me. I decided to join this fight because I wanted the government to recognise its failures and work to overhaul its security institutions. I did not expect piecemeal acknowledgements and efforts to sabotage vital proceedings.”

There have been reports and eyewitness accounts told of the unprovoked shooting of peaceful protesters by the Nigerian army at the toll gate on October 20, 2020, during the #EndSARS protests against police brutality. 

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