February 13, 2021

Arrest, dehumanisation, taunting of #LekkiTollgate protesters bestial, military — CAPPA

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The arrest and taunting of youths that gathered at Lekki Tollgate to protest, seeking justice for the victims of the shootings of October 20, 2020, have been described as bestial and a reminder of the era of military dictatorship.

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, made the analogy while reacting to the action of policemen, describing the development as unacceptable and demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the protesters.

The protesters had converged to express their displeasure over plans to reopen the toll gate even as the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate the October 20, 2020 killings was yet to wind up work.

According to a statement by Philip Jakpor, CAPPA’s Director of Programmes, some passers-by were also arrested.

“Video footage circulating on social media shows some of the arrested protesters crammed in a Black Maria and being derided by the police in scenes reminiscent of the military era when Nigerians’ right to converge and free speech was trampled underfoot.

“We are shell-shocked that in the 21st century the Nigerian police is still dehumanising Nigerian citizens by forcefully stopping their legitimate right to converge and protest and clamping them like rabid animals into the dingy Black Maria.”

The statement quoted CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, as saying “We saw video footage of the shameful display of bestiality by the police.

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“It is disheartening to know that we have descended this low as a country and a people to stifle peaceful protests.

“Through their repressive tactics the police have not only violated the rights of these citizens to protest, but also exposed them to the coronavirus by clamping them into the poorly-ventilated Black Maria.”

He added that the only sin of the protesters was that they have refused to be cowed by the state that is more interested in making profits on the blood of the alleged victims of the Lekki Tollgate shootings, who were only fighting for our common good, including that of the policemen perpetrating this tyranny.

“We are using this medium to demand the unequivocal release of the protesters, a probe of the response of the police to this incident and full apology by the Lagos State Government for permitting this anomaly on its soil,” Oluwafemi insisted.

Vanguard News Nigeria