Lai Mohammed threatens to unleash government forces on Lekki tollgate protesters

The Nigerian government has vowed to deal with those planning a fresh protest at the Lekki tollgate, Lagos on Saturday.

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 member 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 speaking on Thursday, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, warned those planning the protest to desist.

Mohammed claimed that based on the intelligence at the disposal of the government, some Nigerian activists have linked up with others outside Nigeria, “including subversive elements,” to destabilise the country, adding that “We cannot and must not allow this to happen.”

He said, “As you may be aware, some EndSARS proponents have given notice of their plan to return to Lagos – Lekki tollgate to be specific – on Saturday, February 13th, 2021. The ‘Occupy Lekki Tollgate’ flyers have been circulating online, with the proponents threatening that ‘Lagos will burn’ again.

“Never again will the federal government allow the kind of violence that was perpetrated across the country under the guise of the EndSARS last October. Never again will anyone or group be allowed to destroy cities or to kill and maim innocent citizens, including security agents, under any guise.

“The EndSARS campaign last October started as a peaceful protest against police brutality. As a government that believes in the constitutionally-guaranteed right of citizens to engage in peaceful protests, the federal government did nothing to hinder the protests for as long as they remained peaceful.

“The trillion-naira destruction of Lagos, in particular, remains too fresh a wound. Hundreds, including the youth, lost their livelihoods to the wanton attacks in Lagos. The burnt wreckage of public buses that were wantonly set ablaze by rampaging hoodlums remains in their positions as a sad and gory reminder of the unprecedented attacks. The city is still reeling from the war-like

“For those who are using justice as an alibi for another round of destruction, let me say this: As we speak, the Judicial Panels of Inquiry, set up across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extrajudicial killings, with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other police units, are continuing with the assignments. In Lagos, the Judicial Panel of Inquiry has an added responsibility of investigating the incident of October 20th at the Lekki tollgate.

“Like we have said many times, anyone who has any information on the alleged shooting or purported massacre at the Lekki tollgate, including the names and addresses of those who were purportedly killed, should head to the panel to give it such information. This is how to enhance the search for justice, not by rabble-rousing or engaging in media shows.

“However, any further resort to violence in the name of EndSARS will not be tolerated this time. The security agents are ready for any eventuality. A situation in which six soldiers and 37 policemen were murdered in cold blood by hoodlums will not repeat itself. The attack, looting, and razing of 269 private and public property will not happen again. The killing of 57 civilians will not be re-enacted.

“We therefore strongly warn those who are planning to re-occupy Lekki tollgate on Saturday to desist. We know that many of those who have been loudest on social media in advertising the plan to reconvene in Lagos on Saturday are not even in Nigeria. They are elsewhere around the world fanning the embers of violence and inciting gullible people back home. No one should fall for their antics.

“The federal government is also keenly watching the role being played by the various social media platforms in this renewed clamour for violence in the country. Recall that the social media platforms that eagerly nudged on the EndSARS protesters, until the situation got out of hand, are the same ones that quickly pulled the plug on even their own president when the chips were down in their own country.”

Sahara Reporters

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