Despite being beaten, arrested, thrown inside Black Maria, driven off and their cell phones collected from them by the police at the Lekki Tollgate Plaza, Lagos, the group of peaceful young protesters who had gathered to demand continued closure of the facility pending the determination of justice for those allegedly killed by joint forces of the Nigerian Army and police during the #EndSARS protests in October 20, 2020, seem not to be deterred.
The young protesters, who defied all threats and warnings from both the federal and state governments and security operatives, went on with their #OccupyLekkiTollgate protest.
According to them, it is most insensitive for the government to think of reopening the plaza for toll collection when the Lagos Judicial Panel setup to look into the killings of innocent protesters has not concluded its investigations or issued recommendations.
Wednesday 17th is another day, says DJ Switch According to one of the heroines of the October, 2020, #EndSARS protest in Nigeria, who is currently on asylum in a foreign country,
DJ Switch, young Nigerians will not allow operations to begin at the Lekki Toll Plaza when justice has not prevailed.
She said in her tweets: “We cannot allow operations to begin at the Lekki Tollgate when justice has not prevailed!
This is wrong! I have always known from the start that the panel trolls screamed at my absence for a sham! @ followlasg you have failed the young people of Lagos State! #EndSARS.”
Also, seeing what was going on yesterday (Saturday) morning, at Lekki Tollgate, where about 15 protesters were said to have been manhandled again by the police and arrested, she said: “I am so angry at all I see; I want us all,wherever we are, to speak up! In whatever way you can!!!”
She, however, promised to reveal to the youths, the next line of action come Wednesday 17 should all things be equal, saying: “I will update you all on what is happening on the 17th if all goes well. Like I said…I have chosen to fight, what do you want to do?”
More so, 24-year-old Damilare Adebola, who spoke from the Black Maria, where he was being held, said: “Lekki toll gate should be made a museum of resistance and not a monument for moneymaking,” questioning the moral justifications for the Lagos Judicial Panel’s voting in favour of retaking of Lekki toll plaza by LCC when it has not concluded its assignment.”
Sequel to the panel’s ruling in favour of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, who has been on the frontline of the struggles walked out of the room while three other members, Patience Udoh, representing Civil Society, Rinuola Oduola and Temitope Majekodunmi, also representing the youths followed suit, citing undue intimidation as the reason for their action.
Meanwhile, a popular comedian ‘Mr. Macaroni’ was among the agitators who were arrested yesterday for joining the protest at the Lekki Toll Plaza. The 28-year-old revealed this during an Instagram live session before he was bundled into police Black Maria on Saturday.
He was still speaking to his fans when he was ushered into the mobile cell. “I am being arrested, Nigerians will ask you,” he said. The protest was held to show displeasure with the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry to allow the LCC to reopen the toll plaza.
A graduate of Redeemers University, Ede, Mr. Macaroni had lent his voice and rallied with #EndSARS protesters against police brutality and bad governance in Nigeria last year.
However, another group planning a protest themed #DefendLagos to counter those carrying out the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest in Lagos suspended theirs in the early hours of Saturday. Convener of the rally, Alabi Oladimeji made this disclosure in a virtual briefing on Saturday morning.
It was alleged that some labourers and bricklayers who were going to their various places of work were arrested by the policemen and dumped in the Black Maria.
Another unidentified protester was seen screaming and shouting her grievances and asserting her stance against the ruling to open the plaza. “You cannot open this tollgate until the lives that were lost here have been accounted for.
No, not today, not tomorrow. Buhari you are not allowed to reopen this tollgate,” she said. She also went a step further to claim that her friends were amongst the victims of the purported military attack on that day. “My friends died here. I have a National ID, but nothing happens because I am a Nigerian,” she is seen saying in the video. However, Lagos CP, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu has ordered the release of the arrested protesters.
We’ll use minimum force, says Defence minister In a related development, the Minister of Defence, Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), has warned that the Federal Government will not fold its hands and allow miscreants dictate how Nigeria will be governed.
The minister, who spoke to journalists in Kano Saturday, said: “The #EndSARS issue, if you recall, the Minister of Information (Lai Mohammed) had briefed this nation and alerted that something like this is coming, and we know we are always prepared.
This is our job to ensure internal security.” The Minister said: “Over 60% of the protesters were miscreants, who don’t even know why they were there; some even went there to steal”.
He added: “That is why we must plan for it. We don’t want to be taken by surprise. And if you want us to be taken by surprise, then, there is no need to call us protectors.
“If #EndSARS is to take place today, we will ensure that we have peaceful counter plans that we will put in place to ensure that mistakes are not made in protecting the people.”