BY BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE
A human rights activist, Mr. Richard Akinnola, yesterday, condemned the use of police to disrupt the peaceful protest by Lekki residents against the collection of toll on the Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos, noting that the Court of Appeal had reinforced the position that citizens have the right to peaceful protests.
He also faulted the handling of the protest by Mr Hakeem Odumosu, who led the police team.
Speaking in Lagos, Akinnola said: “I am particularly disturbed with the role played by Mr. Odumosu. He had over the years been high-handed in the way he treated Lagosians.
Right from when he was the chairman of the task force on environmental sanitation, he has been infringing on the rights of the people. That was clearly portrayed by the way his team tear gassed peaceful protesters. This is unacceptable.
“I believe that the residents are free to exercise their constitutional rights. I also think it was very unfortunate how that protesters were dispersed by the police, leading to brutalization and arrest of some people. I condemn the action in its entirety.
“According to reports, a citizen was shot dead by officers of the Nigeria Police Force during the protest which took place at the Lekki toll gate on December 17.”
He said he was not opposed to toll but that the government should have provided a viable alternative route to meet with international standards before embark oning toll collection.
He noted: “Government said there was an alternative route but the residents are saying that there is no alternative route since the road is in a private estate, which can be blocked at any point in time. It is also a narrow road that does not constitute an alternative route.”