The police in Lagos State have warned against any gathering, protest, or procession in any part of the state as part of moves to prevent the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest.
State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, announced this in a statement on Thursday.
The plan to #OccupyLekkiTollGate came after the controversial ruling of the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reopen the Lekki Tollgate.
The panel, headed by Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge, 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 out of the nine-man panel, with four members, including Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and the youth representatives dissenting to the ruling.
Despite the dissenting ruling, the Lekki Toll Plaza has been handed over to LCC for reopening.
Following this decision, some Nigerians have planned a protest at the tollgate. The protest is fixed for Saturday, February 13, 2021, from 7 am.
But Odumosu said such a demonstration, whether peaceful or violent, will not be allowed to take place as the government and people of Lagos still nurture the wounds of the recent #EndSARS violence that wreaked havoc across the state.
The statement read, “I deemed it imperative to jointly address you and the general public with the Honourable Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, on the stance of the police command on the proposed #EndSARS protest slated for Saturday, 13th February, 2021, being championed by some individuals, Hashtag #OCCUPYLAGOSLEKKITOLLGATE, at Lekki Toll Gate plaza, Lagos State. Permit me to state in clear terms that organising any protest in furtherance of the recent violent and destructive #EndSARS protest will be counterproductive to the ongoing series of inquiries and investigations into many cases related to the #EndSARS violence and the present security situation of the state.
“Above all, the command has gathered intelligence that some hidden agents of destruction and shadow parties that planned and orchestrated the last #EndSARS violence have concluded plans to cause another set of mayhem in Lagos State and spread same to other parts of the country, tactically and spontaneously, like the recent violence.
“Premised on the available intelligence and due threat analyses carried out on the planned protest, the command perceives such proposed protest as a calculated attempt to cause pandemonium, brouhaha, and massive destruction of lives and property under whatever guide and such will not be allowed in Lagos State.
“The Lagos State, its people, and the Nigerian nation at large are still groaning (in pains) for the aftermath of the last #EndSARS violence that left many lives and property lost. It is therefore not reasonable to allow the same to repeat itself in the state. More expedient why such gathering should not hold is the prevailing Covid-19 virus which is rampaging in the country. You will all recall four days ago, the Federal Government Task Force on Covid-19 declared that the country now has 13 variants of the Covid-19 virus which make it more deadly.
“With this development, all hands must be on deck to halt the spread of the virus by self-complying with its protocols major which is maintenance social distance. In addition, the judgement pronounced on the reopening of the Lekki Toll Gate plaza has been misconceptualised by the #EndSARS agitators, which I am sure the Hon Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Lagos State has addressed. The Panel of Inquiry on #EndSARS violence in the state has taken drastic steps to forward reports to the state government on the payment of compensations to affected individuals that were adjudged victims of police brutality and excessiveness. The government has released some amount of money to take care of these compensations accordingly.”
Odumosu asked parents and guardians to discourage their children or wards from embarking on any protest in the state.
“On this note, the command, therefore, warns that inasmuch as the police respect people’s opinions and human rights, no protest will be allowed in any part of the state as the security of lives and property of the government and the good people of Lagos State is paramount and not negotiable,” he added.
“The command also warns that adequate arrangement and deployment of security forces to kick against and dislodge any violent protest, gathering, and procession in any part of the state has been emplaced. The decision of the command in this regard is in the interest of all and sundry in Lagos and to ensure that the statutory responsibilities of the Nigeria Police Force are not compromised.
“I, therefore, appeal to the general public, particularly parents and guardians, to discourage and warn their children and wards to ignore any unreasonable call or mobilisation for protest or gathering which runs against the existing peace and security situation of the state. I wish to also warn that the command will not hesitate to resist any protest and/or gathering with all available resources at its disposal but within the ambit of the law.”