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#EndSARS: Nigeria Halts Protest Against Tollgate Reopening

Nigeria’s information minister has disclosed plans by the government to prevent #OccupyLekkiTollgate protests from happening as planned.

On Thursday, the Nigerian Government announced it would not allow any protest that may result in violence ahead of planned demonstrations around the reopening of Lekki tollgate in Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria.

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s  Minister of Information and Culture, said this while addressing journalists in Abuja on the proposed protest against Lekki tollgate reopening.

HumAngle reported how some Nigerians had planned to protest against a Lagos Judicial Panel’s decision to reopen the Lekki tollgate, the site of the Oct. 20, 2020 shooting of demonstrators who rallied against police brutality, by some personnel of the Nigerian Army.

Justice Doris Okuwobo, who heads the nine-man panel ruled that the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) should repossess the tollgate.

This sparked outrage from many young Nigerians who took side with the dissenting members that argued for a delay in the reopening until forensic examination report is submitted.

Calling for a rally to demand that the Lekki tollgate remains closed until full investigations and hearings were concluded, they planned to stage a  demonstration tagged #OccupyLekkiTollGate on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, by 7 am.

But some youths also launched a counter-protest—#DefendLagos, #DemNoBornYourPapaWell— to denounce the earlier demonstrators.

Following the clash of interests by the two groups, Nigerians have expressed fear over possible violent confrontations between the two groups of demonstrators.

Nigerian Govt Says No To Both Protests

While peaceful protests are Nigerians’ constitutional rights, the minister said violent demonstrations would not be allowed.

“At this time, the chances that any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high,” he said.

He said an intel report at the government’s disposal had suggested a possible subversion of the planned protests by some persons with foreign backup to cause destabilisation.

“Some Nigerian activists have linked up with others outside Nigeria, including subversive elements, with a view to destabilising the country. We cannot and must not allow this to happen,” Mohammed said.

“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 minister warned those planning to re-occupy Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday to desist, stressing that any other resort to violence in the name of EndSARS would not be tolerated.

He alluded to the violence witnessed in the country in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest. 

Public and private properties were destroyed during the Oct. 2020 protest, HumAngle had observed.

“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 and the killing of 57 civilians will not be re-enacted,’’ Mohammed said.

The minister did not specify whether the death of the 57 Nigerians had any link with the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate.

Police To Stop Protest

The minister said, “The security agents are ready for any eventuality.”

Hakeem Odumosu, the Lagos Commissioner of Police, also warned that the command would resist any planned protest in the state.

While addressing journalists in Lagos, Odumosu said no protest would be allowed in any part of the state because “the security of lives and properties of the government and the good people of Lagos state is paramount and not negotiable”.

The commissioner said there was an adequate arrangement in place to deploy security agents to dislodge “any protest in furtherance of the recent violent and destructive #EndSARS protest will be counterproductive to the ongoing series of inquiries and investigations into many cases related to the #EndSARS violence and the present security situation of the state.”

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Aishat Babatunde

Aishat Babatunde heads the digital reporting desk. Before joining HumAngle, she worked at Premium Times and Nigerian Tribune. She is a graduate of English from the University of Ibadan.

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