Police have arrested popular comedian Mr Macaroni at the Lekki tollgate.
Mr Macaroni, whose real name is Debo Adebayo, joined other protesters at the tollgate to express his dissatisfaction with the decision of the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry allowing the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to reopen the Lekki tollgate.
“We don’t want you here,” police told Mr Macaroni before arresting him on Saturday morning.
The heavily armed and fierce-looking police officers had laid siege to the Lekki tollgate on Friday. The officers were nowhere to be found when government-backed thugs opened fire on one another near a major police base at Obalende on Thursday.
“Lekki is under military rule,” Mr Macaroni said in a live Instagram video he streamed from the venue.
The comedian then had his phone seized by the police who also confiscated the phones of other protesters who were recording processdings at the venue.
“How did you think the reopening of tollgate is the next line of action? If you didn’t do that today, we won’t have a right to be here,” Mr Macaroni could be heard saying in the live video.
“It is a disrespect to say that you want to reopen at this tollgate. Are you spitting on the graves of the dead?
“Na military regime we dey? We also have a right to be heard. We have a right to protest peacefully.”
Recall that the Babajide Sanwo-Olu government invited the military to dislodge protesters from the venue on October 20, 2020. The 2020 protests were organised to call for an end to police brutality, demand comprehensive law enforcement reform and good governance. The soldiers involved later opened fired on the protesters and lied about doing so, multiple investigative reports show.
Governor Sanwo-Olu has also been caught lying about his involvement in what is now deemed “Lekki massacre” which critics say will forever taint his political history. The administration has also demolished a community that witnessed the shooting.
After the Nigerian Army pulled out of the Lagos panel, the panel voted to return Lekki tollgate to LCC so it could resume toll collection. That decision triggered Saturday’s protest.
Rinu Oduola, a youth representative on the panel, accused the government of an unjust cover-up after stepping down from the panel on Friday.
The federal government warned against Saturday’s protest, with information minister Lai Mohammed threatening that the security agencies were “ready for any eventuality”.
At least 23 protesters have now been arrested, many of them brutalised.
“I am an artist. I am not a criminal. I came here to protest. It is my right. It is not a crime to protest,” Joseph Seye, who was at the venue to register his displeasure said.
“Why are the government treating youths this way?”
Not everyone supports the protest. Some youth have gathered under the umbrella of #DefendLagos to kick against Saturday’s demonstration. They argue that the protest could trigger another round of the kind of widespread violence and looting that trailed Lekki shooting.
But #OccupyLekkiTollGate protesters argue that the violence was instigated by state actors who paid political thugs to attack peaceful protesters.