Advises parents to keep their children away
We’re fully prepared — CP
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Government has warned the two rival groups planning to stage #OccupyLekkiToll gate protest on Saturday, to shelve the plan and stay away, as every arrangement has been concluded to prosecute violators.
Also, the state Police Command has threatened to deal decisively with any form of protest in the state as the command is ready to arrest and prosecute any violator(s).
Recall that the Lagos State Judicial Panel’s decision permitting the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to repossess the Lekki Toll Gate caused a social media storm on Tuesday with two groups threatening counter-protests at the plaza.
Opponents of the panel’s decision, mainly youths, expressed their outrage on Twitter with the hashtag #OccupyLekkiTollGate.
They resolved to stage another protest at the tollgate to ensure that the tollgate remains shut until justice is served to the victims of the Lekki shooting.
The protest has been fixed for Saturday, February 13, 2021, from 7 am.
Their outrage was matched by that expressed by proponents of a counter social media campaign with the #DefendLagos and #DemNoBornDemPapaWell.
The promoters lamented that Lagos State witnessed massive destruction of public and private properties during the #EndSARS protests, warning that further protest that will lead to destruction will not be tolerated.
Last November Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu estimated about N1 trillion for the reconstruction and repair of the properties and infrastructure that were vandalised and destroyed by hoodlums.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, gave the warning on Thursday, at a joint press briefing with Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onibanjo and Lagos Commissioner for Police, Hakeem Odumosu, held in Alausa, Ikeja.
Omotoso said the measure became necessary in view of the need to curb the spread of the prevailing spike in the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to protect the lives and properties of citizenry.
He appealed to parents, guardians to prevent their children and wards from engaging in any protest insisting that the state has not fully recovered from the effect of last October EndSARS protests.
Onibanjo said, “Our attention is drawn to the planned protest scheduled for Saturday, February 13, 2021, at the Lekki Toll Gate for and against the opening of the Admiralty Toll Gate.
“The State is aware of Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which guarantees the Rights to Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly. However, such a right does not permit the violation of the Rights of other citizens in the state.
“While the state recognises the importance of exercising the Rights to Peaceful protests, same cannot extend to blockage of roads and or preventing other members of the public from enjoying their Fundamental Rights to move freely within the State.
“Any person or group with such desire to Protest must also bear in mind the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Regulations 2021 which prevents any gathering beyond 50 and other safety measures including but not limited to maintaining Social Distancing and the use of face mask.
“We hereby enjoin everyone to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 Regulations and any other extant laws in the State. The right to protest peacefully does not exempt anyone from violating laws. Any violator will therefore be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
“Furthermore, any individual or corporate body who incites or condones any act leading to the destruction of public and private properties shall be prosecuted under the extant laws and in addition to any penalty the court might pronounce, such person or body will be liable to compensate for any damage which is as a result of the action or inaction of such person or body.”
Also speaking, the State Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu warned that the command would not allow any protest stressing that available reports indicated that two opposing groups; the Occupy Lekki-Lagos and Save Lagos are poised to embark on counter-protests on Saturday.
Odumosu added that the police have been fully mobilised to foster any breakdown of law and order.
According to him, “Above all, the command has gathered intelligence that some hidden agents of destruction and shadow parties that planned and orchestrated the last Endsars violence have concluded plans to cause another set of mayhem in Lagos State and spread same to other parts of the country, tactically and spontaneously, like the recent violence.
“Premised on the available intelligence and due threat analyses carried out on the planned protest, the command perceives such proposed protest as a calculated attempt to cause pandemonium, brouhaha, and massive destruction of lives and properties under whatever guide and such will not be allowed in Lagos State.
“In addition, the judgment pronounced on the reopening of the LekkiTollGate plaza has been misconceptualized by the Endsars agitators, which I am sure the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Lagos State has addressed.
“On this note, the Command, therefore, warns that in as much as the Police respects peoples opinions and human rights, no protest will be allowed in any part of the state as the security of lives and properties of the Government and the good people of Lagos State is paramount and not negotiable.”
“The command also warns that adequate arrangement and deployment of security forces to kick against and dislodge any violent protest, gathering, and procession in any part of the state has been emplaced.
“The decision of the command in this regard is in the interest of all and sundry in Lagos and to ensure that the statutory responsibilities of the Nigeria Police Force are compromised.”