Tension mounts over Lekki Tollgate reopening
Police arrest protester at Lekki tollgate, Lagos. Saturday, February 13, 2021

Adebayo Obajemu

Following the indecent way in which the police in Lagos handled the #Occupy Lekki protest Saturday, many Nigerians have condemned the federal government and the police for violating rights of Nigerians to peaceful assembly.

Leke Job, a Kaduna-based senior advocate of Nigeria, told Business Hallmark that ” we are gradually moving towards the 20- month era of General Buhari’s military junta where rights violations were the order of the day. We an inch closer to that dark days , but this is democracy and all of us must stand to defend our rights in the face of brutal assault unleashed by this administration. ”

Earlier, General Bashir Magashi, Defence minister had said minimal force would be used against the protesters.

Condemning Magashi’s position, professor Adeagbo. Moritiwon, a political scientist said ” Magashi’s statement is a window into the quality of the mind of our leaders. How can you say unarmed protesters are a security risk while the rampaging killer Fulani herdsmen are not? ”

Recall that Saturday, the police used minimal force to arrest and prosecute innocent protesters who had made good their threat to occupy Lekki Toll gate over the planned reopening of the toll gate closed since last September in the wake of the #Endsars protest.

Among those that initially appealed to the protesters to shelve the idea to enable the panel set up by the Lagos state government conclude its sitting was Ebun Adegborunwa. The human rights activist and lawyer threatened to quit the panel over the way the police handled the protesters.
Two other members of the panel representing the youth have also expressed frustration and have also decided to quit , citing police brutality and insincerity of the government.

Martin Chukwuemeka, a legal practitioner berated the police for ” their Gestapo’ mentality , and honestly Buhari should be held responsible for the breakdown of rule of law and respect for the rights of Nigerians to assemble.”

Debo Anjorin , a protester told BH at protest ground that ” It is better we fight now , it is inevitable, otherwise this rudder less administration will turn this country to a police state. They have no solution to daily security breaches, yet they are descending on peaceful protesters. Herdsmen and bandits have taken over the country, they have no solution to that, but they can deploy lorry loads of police to brutalise us.”

The arrested protesters who were taken to Panti for trials have had some of them released on bail, among the released is Debo Adebayo popularly called Mr. Macaroni.

The Nigeria Bar Association says lawyers would render free legal services to those still being detained by the police. Olumide Apata, National President made this known in a press statement last weekend.

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