#OccupyLekkiTollGate : We condemn any act of brutality on the part of the police, the Commissioner of Police will be asked to give account of what happened – LASG

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FG has vowed to crush any fresh strike at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos by #EndSARS protesters. NewsOnline Nigeria learnt that President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government warned Nigerians against participating in any protest to block the toll gate. READ: Court Orders CBN To Unfreeze Accounts Of 20 #Endsars Protesters It said all security agencies have been put on the alert to curtail any protest. It said protests are constitutionally allowed only in designated places but not toll gates. It confirmed the intelligence report which showed that the latest protest might be hijacked to cause violence nationwide. READ: Lagos Panel Approves Reopening Of Lekki Tollgate After #Endsars The Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed spoke in Abuja against the backdrop of a renewed protest at Lekki Toll Gate as from Saturday. The Minister said: “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.” ” No government anywhere will allow a repeat of the kind of destruction, killing and maiming wrought by the hijackers of #EndSARS protests last year. ” After all, only one policeman – (plus four others) – was killed in the invasion of the US Capitol in January, yet the FBI has continued to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators. No life is more important than the other.” Mohammed warned those planning the protest to shelve it. He said intelligence report indicated that some of those planners are non-Nigerians He added: ” We therefore strongly warn those who are planning to re-occupy Lekki Toll Gate 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 State Government of Lagos has stated that the State Police Commissioner will be asked to give an account of what happened at Lekki Toll Gate on February 13, the venue for the planned #OccupyLekkiTollGate protests.

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Moyosore Onigbanjo, the State Commissioner for Justice, said this while responding to reports of police dehumanisation and assault by some of the arrested protesters.

Onigbanjo, who cited breaches of the COVID-19 protocols and fears that the exercise could go out of hand as part of the crimes committed by those arrested in the Channels Television interview, argued that the government has no problem with residents exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression or peaceful protest participation.

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He added that if the protesters’ actions are seen to lead to a breakdown of law and order, that is where a crime is committed. The commissioner also warned that because the police are a legal entity of their own, the state government is not the one that gives arrest orders.

Onigbanjo said;

“We cannot afford the sort of vandalism we saw before.  The Nigerian police force is a legal entity of its own, with its own processes.

“But the role of the police stops when it comes to prosecution.The state government will ask the CP to give an account of what happened.

“Your right to protest only extends to where the other person’s right to his own freedom of association and movement starts.

“We condemn any act of brutality and dehumanisation on the part of the police or anybody for that matter. There are three ways to address this. Firstly, is for the commissioner of police himself to set up what is known as an orderly room trial.

“Secondly, if investigation reveals that any police officer abused their authority, and these facts are sent to the DPP’s office, and the DPP says that the policeman or woman has a case to answer, appropriate charges will be filed.

“The third leg of it, even these citizens who claimed that they were brutalised also have the option to sue the police to court for this act which they alleged. “

 

He further defended the state government, saying that the ideally, arrests made on weekends don’t get to be brought to court until Monday, but in the case of those arrested, a mobile court was set up immediately and the arrested youths were allowed bail and released later that same day.

 

The commissioner added;

 

“In Nigeria, if you are arrested on a Friday, you are probably going to end up in a police station or whatever detention till the next week, but we made sure that the court sat late on Saturday to ensure that people that were arrested were released to go home.

“I think that in itself showed the intention of the state government to ensure that rights are protected on both sides. The state government is there for people who support it and people who don’t support it. We are bound by the law and we ensure that the law is carried out to the latter.

“It could have been very easy to say court will not sit till Monday, but we did not do that. We chose to get a magistrate there through the mobile court. We chose to get prosecutors there, and they were granted bail and all of them released. It is another thing that could have happened. They could have been granted bail and they say, ‘it is a Saturday evening, the paper work cannot be concluded till Monday.’

“But that didn’t happen, because we’re hellbent on ensuring that nobody’s right is trampled upon.”


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