Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The six governors of the South West zone have called on security agencies to conduct thorough investigation into the shooting that led to the death of some protesters in Lekki, Lagos State.
They also called on youths protesting against police brutality to calm down and allow government take actions on their demands.
Chairman of the South West Governors Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, in a statement, said security agencies have been directed to investigate all incidents of violence that took place in the zone in the last one week.
“It is disquieting to assert the least, that a protest, widely acclaimed as peaceful and purpose-driven, has been hijacked by some people, ostensibly to execute a destructive design. You will recall that the Inspector General of Police issued an order disbanding the special unit formerly known as Special Anti-Robbery Unit, (SARS) in the wake of the protests across the country. It is also on record that the President and state governors responded positively to the demands of the agitators. A decision was reached at the National Economic Council meeting held on October 16 that all governors should set up judicial panel of inquiry to look into the alleged violation of people’s rights and incidence of police brutality. This has been complied with.
“Recent development lives us with no other option than to believe that there may have been other reasons for the continued protests, well-coordinated and funded. The spread of fake news and videos, which followed an allegation of shooting by some soldiers with a claimed heavy casualty figure at the Lekki Toll Gate, Victoria Island, Lagos, is primarily responsible for the subsequent loss of lives and property.”
The forum commiserated with families of victims of violence across Lagos State and slain policemen.
“We also note, with much pain and sadness the vast and spreading destruction of property belonging to notable individuals and vestiges of our collective patrimony and pride. We commiserate with His Royal Majesty, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu on the sacrilege committed at his palace and condemn in no unmistakable terms the vile attack on Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and destruction of businesses where it is believed he has interest.
“This regression into savagery exposes our land as not only vulnerable, but susceptible to vile manipulations by elements keenly anxious to annihilate the South West and destroy our common heritage.
“We are deeply concerned with the ease with which public buildings, utilities, police stations and investments of our people have been burnt despite the proximity of security agencies in those areas. We call on the heads of all security agencies to be alive to their obligations to defend the country. We charge the relevant security agencies to investigate all cases of violence with a view to identifying the culprits.
“We are particularly worried that 48 hours, after the unfortunate incident at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos by persons adorning military fatigue, there has been no definitive statement from the military authorities on the incident. Our anxiety becomes heightened by the categorical denial of the Governor of Lagos State concerning the deployment. No Governor has power to authorize deployment of military personnel in Nigeria. We note, with great relief, the confirmation by the Governor that no fatality was recorded at the Lekki Toll Gate incident based on visits to hospitals, mortuaries, both private and public. There were no doubt different levels of injury to persons arising from the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“Consequently, we insist that full investigation be conducted to ascertain the veracity of the news items liberally circulated by some local media. It is becoming very clear that the conflagration may have been caused by deliberate deployment. The attendant damage was extensive and massive. The selective application of jungle justice raises suspicion as regards the real motive of the arsonists and vandals.”
US calls for immediate investigation
Similarly, the United States has condemned the use of excessive force on protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos by military forces.
US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, in a statement said the United States welcomed an immediate investigation into the incidence.
“The United States strongly condemns the use of excessive force by military forces who fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos, causing death and injury. We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces. Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo further said the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression were essential human rights and core democratic principles.
“We call on the security services to show maximum restraint and respect fundamental rights and for demonstrators to remain peaceful. We extend our condolences to the victims of the violence and their families,” Pompeo also said.