NIGERIAN government officials have warned protesters planning to hold demonstrations at the Lekki Toll Gate Plaza in Lagos State that they will be dealt with decisively if they attempt to hold another version of the #EndSARS protests.
Last year, Nigerian youths held a nationwide series of protests to express their opposition to police brutality, which eventually led to the dissolution of the Special Armed Robbery Squad (Sars). However, the protests were brought to an end brutally with soldiers from the Nigerian Army opening fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate.
With plans for a fresh set of protests in the pipeline, Nigeria’s information minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has warned that any protest to block the toll gate would not be tolerated. He added that protests are constitutionally allowed only in designated places but not at toll gates.
Alhaji Mohammed said: “Any further resort to violence in the name of #EndSARS will not be tolerated this time. The security agents are ready for any eventuality and a situation in which six soldiers and 37 policemen were murdered in cold blood by hoodlums will not repeat itself.
“The attacks, looting and razing of 269 private and public property will not happen again and the killing of 57 civilians will not be re-enacted. No government anywhere will allow a repeat of the kind of destruction, killing and maiming wrought by the hijackers of #EndSARS protests last year.
“After all, only one policeman was killed in the invasion of the US Capitol in January, yet the FBI has continued to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators. No life is more important than the other.”
He warned those planning the protest to shelve it, adding that intelligence reports indicated that some of those planners are not in Nigeria. Hakeem Odumosu, the Lagos State police commissioner, confirmed that his command would not allow protesters to congregate at the Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday, February 13 as planned.
Mr Odumosu said: “Allowing both groups to carry out their planned protests will be counter-productive. No protest in any guise will be allowed to take place on Saturday 13th February 2021.”
Last Saturday, the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the matter, decided to hand the tollgate back to its operators, Lekki Concession Company, after forensic experts submitted their report on the October 20, 2020 shooting there. This coming Saturday, both anti-government and pro-government protesters had planned to meet there.