The arrest, humiliation and trial of Lekki tollgate protesters will remind Nigerians of military dictatorship, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tells the Lagos government.
The opposition party’s comments followed the police brutality, arrest and prosecution unleashed on protesters who stormed the Lekki Toll Plaza on Saturday.
The demonstrators had gathered at the Lekki tollgate to stop the Babajide Sanwo-Olu government from allowing Lekki Concession Company (LCC) resume toll collection until the dozens of Nigerians shot by soldiers at the venue last October got justice.
There was no incident of violence on the part of the protesters. But the police, who had laid siege to the facility on Friday, beat the demonstrators, seized their phones, arrested them and arraigned them before a mobile court for “breach of public peace”.
“Lagosians will never believe that a time will come in the state when citizens’ rights to peaceful protests will be muscled by a supposed democratic government,” Lagos PDP chairman Adedeji Doherty said in statement made available to The Realm News on Sunday.
Doherty pointed out that nobody arrested All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and former Lagos governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he, and others, protested under a PDP federal government.
“Tinubu should recall that their rights to protest or freely congregate against the Goodluck Jonathan administration was not crushed with the federal might when the PDP was in power,” he said.
“Consequently, Tinubu, APC and Sanwo-Olu should realise that power is transient.”
Doherty also condemned the decision to release the Lekki tollgate to LCC.
“When did it become the duty of a judicial panel of inquiry to order the resumption of collection of tolls at a tollgate, which was shut down owing to alleged killing of youths whose only offence was that they demanded that SARS police officers should stop killing them?
“Isn’t it now crystal clear that all that matters to the APC and Governor Sanwo-Olu is the blood money they are getting from the tollgate, with which they have been filling the insatiable appetite of their Lagos for money.
“Lagosians must, therefore, rise to put an end to this Shylock and autocratic government that won’t mind even turning the blood of the people to blood money.
“The Lagos State Government and most especially, the members of the House of Assembly from Lagos Island, Eti-Osa, Ibeju-Lekki and Epe should open up a public hearing or referendum on the reopening of this controversial tollgate to show the world that democracy is really the order of the day in Lagos State, instead of trying to crush a peaceful protest without presenting any kind of alternative medium of diplomacy as it concerns the tollgate issue.
“As for those who were arrested among the protesters, we wish to tell them to remain strong, committed and resolute in their quest for a Nigeria where government does the right thing and citizens are allowed to ventilate their grievances against government freely.”