Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has instructed the police to clampdown on any gathering that involves more than 50 people.
The order came on Wednesday, a day before anti-government demonstrations scheduled for Nigeria’s Independence Day.
Sanwo-Olu, however, did not say the planned October 1 protests necessitated his restriction on public gathering. He gave the coronavirus as the reason.
But with Lagos serving as the epicentre of massive nationwide demonstrations in the past, there are apprehensions the government restriction was indirectly targeted at protesters.
An activist told The Realm News protesters will not be cowered by the governor’s order.
“The police and other security agencies have been directed to ensure that nobody flouts these directives in the interest of all of us, especially now that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is warning that a second wave of the deadly disease could occur,” information commissioner Gbenga Omotoso said in a statement.
The government also cancelled its planned parade to mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary and would now be opting for a lowkey virtual event.
There are fears that the police, who are notorious for assaulting peaceful protesters, could capitalise on Sanwo-Olu’s order to brutalise anti-government demonstrators in Lagos.
“It’s definitely targeted at protesters,” activist Femi Adeyeye told The Realm News.
“It’s not like Nigerians are so happy with the way the country is that they want to organize Independence Day parties and breach COVID-19 guidelines.
“Even when the presidential taskforce pegged the number of people in a public gathering at 20, they didn’t go about arresting the thousands of people who gathered at markets.
“But they arrested us or attempted to do so any time we protested and even if we break no coronavirus protocol.
“This is definitely targeted at protesters but we will not be cowered,” he said.