FG Deploys Police, Others to Lekki Tollgate Ahead of Today’s Protests

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FG Deploys Police, Others to Lekki Tollgate Ahead of Today’s Protests
Obiajulu Joel Nwolu

The Federal Government has deployed policemen and over 150 operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, to preempt the breakdown of law and order and possibly forestall the protest tagged #OccupyLekkiProtest at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos on Saturday (today).

This comes as some individuals under the auspices of #DefendLagos have also promised to organise a counter-march against the #OccupyLekkiProtest demonstrators.

Earlier, the Federal Government and the police had warned youths who planned to protest at the Lekki tollgate on Saturday to have a rethink and shelve the protests.

However, the protesters under the auspices of #EndSARS Season 2, vowed to remain steadfast.

According to them, the planned protest was necessitated by the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry allowing the Lekki Concession Company to reopen the Lekki tollgate.

Recall that #EndSARS protests went viral across the country in October 2020 to kick against the alleged extrajudicial killings and police brutality perpetrated by the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.

The protest was halted on October 20, 2020 when armed security operatives allegedly opened fire on protesters at the Lekki tollgate.

The decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reopen the tollgate for toll collection after about four months of inconclusive investigation has irked the concerned youths.

Spokesperson of the NSCDC in Lagos, Seun Abolurin, in an interview with Punch said the corps commandant in the state, Aiyeni Kolawole, had deployed intelligence and surveillance officers at the Lekki tollgate, adding that about 120 armed men of the corps had been placed on red alert.

He said, “We have enough men on the ground. We have our men on standby, although the protest has been cancelled. If we get any signal, our men are on the ground to move. About 50 of our intelligence and surveillance officers have already been deployed since Friday morning. About 120 armed personnel are on standby in case there is an emergency.”

On whether the protesters would be arrested if the demonstration holds, he said the command could not predict but would uphold fundamental human rights.

He added, “We are civil in nature. We cannot predict until tomorrow (today) comes. Tomorrow (today) will unravel it all but it is advisable for people to do everything within the confines of the law since it has been outlawed for tomorrow.”

Also speaking, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, said that the police and the state government had clearly declared their stance against the protest, insisting that the demonstration would be stopped.

He backed up the decision with the aftermath of the violence that stemmed from the #EndSARS protests, saying that the affected people were still groaning in pains.

He said, “The panel of enquiry set up by the government to look into this is on and the governor has approved a certain amount of money for compensation. The basis upon which the so-called organisers want to arrange protests again is not known. They misinterpreted the pronouncement of the panel and they have been enlightened. The panel asked LCC to go and assess the Lekki tollgate plaza. It is not to commence operations.”

Adejobi acknowledged that people had the fundamental right to protest, but said no right was absolute, claiming that intelligence gathered by the police indicated that the protest would be hijacked.

He added, “We have gathered intelligence and done threat analysis on the proposed protest. We got information that the protest will still be hijacked and cause more mayhem than the previous one. The command is not afraid of anything but we should be able to assess and see beyond our noses. We would not fold arms this time round and allow violence to happen. Every sector was affected during the last violent #EndSARS protests.

“We have warned parents and guardians not to allow anybody to mobilise their children. We are going to resist any violent protest in the state within the ambit of the law. We will be duly professional about our rules of engagement tomorrow (today).”

This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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