Ahead of Saturday’s #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest, the Lagos State Police Command deployed armed officers in what it tagged a “show of force” exercise.
Armed Police Officers were seen on ground at the Lekki Tollgate on Friday, uniforms strewn with teargas cannisters, surrounded by armoured vehicles. Their presence has sparked outrage on social media with Nigerians criticising the move as unnecessary and a means to stop people from exercising their constitutional rights.
The Lagos Police Command released a statement via its Twitter account to say that it is going to hold the exercise, usually used by security agencies to intimidate opponents.
Origin of the #OccupyLekkiTollgate Protest II
Miffed by the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel to order the reopening of the Lekki Tollgate for operations, Nigerian youths organised a protest to stop the government from going ahead with its plans.
On October 20, 2020, officers of the Nigerian Army allegedly shot innocent #ENDSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate and are believed to have killed some and injured many others in the process. The day is considered a low point in Nigeria’s history.
A judicial panel set up by the state government to investigate some of the allegations against the Nigerian Army ruled for the reopening of the tollgate after a 5-4 decision by its members.
The youth representatives on the panel, Rinu Oduala and Tope Majekodunmi voted against the reopening of the tollgate.
Also voting in favour of the continuous closure of the tollgate were Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa and Patience Udoh, representative of Civil Society Organisations. All four individuals opposed the ruling delivered by the panel.
Oduala chose to honour the invitation to represent her peers and stand as an example that any Nigerian has the right to demand accountability of elected government officials and that our institutions, however flawed, can still deliver justice.
In the last one week, #DefendLagos hashtag has trended at the same wavelength as the #OccupyLekkiTollGate with proponents of the former also expected to hold counter-protests on Saturday.
It is yet unclear if the show of force planned by the Police is to stop peaceful protesters or prevent a clash between #DefendLagos protesters and #OccupyLekkiTollgate protesters.
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