BY CHIOMA OKEZIE-OKEH, KATE HALIM AND LAWRENCE ENYOGHASU
ALL is set for a showdown between the federal and Lagos state governments on one hand and EndSARS protesters who have continued to deploy social media platforms to mobilise youths to disregard state threats and participate in a pro- test slated for today at the Lekki tollgate plaza, Lagos, where security agents allegedly killed protesting youths last October. They called for the fresh protests at Lekki tollgate after the state’s panel on police brutality ordered the handover of the plaza back to the Lagos Concession Company, LCC, a firm that manages the lucrative tollgate.
Using the #OccupyLekkiTollGate hashtag on Twitter, activists have been busy calling for Nigerian youths to take part in the protest set to start at 7am local time today, Saturday.
In a recent statement, titled, ‘EndSARS Season 2: Why we will #OccupyLekkiTollGate on Saturday’, the group said they remained un- daunted despite the threats from security agents and the state government.
“After committing genocide by killing scores of people who were peacefully protesting at Lekki tollgate and other parts of Lagos, Governor Sanwo-Olu and other oppressors want to spit on the dead and dance on the blood of the innocent by reopening the gate to be collecting their blood money again.”
The federal and Lagos State governments as well as the police have however said they would not allow saboteurs to destabilize the country through protests. They claimed intelligence report has revealed that the protest would be hijacked and used to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens. At a press briefing on Thurs- day, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Lekki tollgate is not a designated place for protests and warned that anybody who disregards the “no protest” warn- ing would have to contend with the country’s security agencies.
He said: “At this time, the chances that any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high. Based on the intelligence at the disposal of the Federal Government, some Nigerian activists have linked up with others outside Nigeria, including subversive elements, with a view to destabilizing the country.”
Responding to the statement of the federal government, some Nigerian youths on social media have dared the government, insisting that the protest will still hold irrespective of the threat received individually and collectively.
One of the organizers of the protest, Tinu Odu- ala tweeted: “I fear for myself, my family, and my friends; for my future but so did the young people whose blood taints the Lekki Tollgate. It is from them I draw inspiration to continue my fight. May we all see the Nigeria we deserve.”
“For anyone tired of hearing me demand better for my country: the only way to convince me to back down is to do your part to make Nigeria work. I will be doing mine, in the communities where it matters, with the tools at my disposal.”
Dat Igbo Boy, posted on his Twitter handle @iampakino that Nigerian youths won’t surrender. “Nigeria is bleeding. The streets aren’t safe anymore. Giveaway to support the struggle”, he stated. Another Twitter user, Snake Viper said the anger is that the government is making ef- fort to carpet the death of their comrades. “They said well-meaning Nigerians. They are still using style to call us hoodlums. Praising their company but didn’t mention to us who removed the camera, who off the light and who ordered the shooting.”
Meanwhile, Kathrine Agazie with Twitter handle @Agazie said that Nigerians should come with drones to monitor the protest and some Nigerians have promised to bring some along. She said: “Come with drone if you have. Everything must be recorded and the whole world needs to see the set of wicked souls ruling Nigeria.”
We’re ready to
discipline ‘no protest’
The Lagos State Police Command has reiterated that it will discipline any violator who protests today, adding that it will deal with them according to the law of the land.
The Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Dosu- mu stated that the Command has made adequate arrangements and deployment of security forces to kick against and dislodge any violent protest, gathering, and procession in any part of the state.
“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 not compromised.”
Rinu Oduala pulls out
of the #EndSARS panel
Rinu Oduala, a youth representative on the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing alleged killing of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll gate last October has stepped down from the panel.
She made the disclosure on Friday in a piece, ‘Let’s stay the course of justice, partial wins are not enough’. Oduala faulted the planned re-opening of the Lekki tollgate, maintaining that justice has not been served to victims of the Lekki shootings of October 20, 2020. The activist said, “My stand on the reopening on the tollgate is clear; the state government and the private organisation operating the toll have not been cleared of collusion with elements allegedly deployed by the federal government to target citizens on home soil during a time of peace, without provocation.”
“We must not forget the purpose of this panel: to address injustice and create accountability for the SARS brutality and for the heinous events on 20th October 2020. When calls for justice are subsumed by commercial concerns and vested interests, it calls into question the legitimacy and integrity of the entire affair and the impartiality
of the proceedings. Without a final panel report or actionable steps, we are returning to the status quo.”
youths to shelve
The Committee of Youths on Mobilisation and Sensitisation (CYMS) has urged Nigerian youths to boycott the proposed protest in the interest of peace and socio-economic stability that were affected after the 2020 EndSARS protest.
Leader of the group, Obasi said that this has become compelling owing to reports of a planned protest by what he described as some self-centered elements that were hell-bent on destabilizing the peace of the country. “Hence, our association would not be part of it.”
According to him, “we say never again on our watch shall we watch the destruction of Lagos State or any other part of Nigeria under any guise. We have heard a lot going on social media concerning another round of EndSARS protest or Occupy Lekki Tollgate. The destruction of Lagos and some parts of the country in October 2020 as a result of the protest, Nigeria and Lagos state, in particular, are yet to come out of the economic pains and financial losses which amount to trillions of Naira