*Panel rejects operators’ request to ‘take back’ Lekki tollgate
By Segun James
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing the shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate was on Tuesday told by the operators of the tollgate, Lekki Concession Company, that the surveillance camera at the scene stopped working at 8PM on that day.
Managing Director of LCC, Abayomi Omomuwa, said this while submitting the video footage of the night of October 20, 2020 to the Panel of Inquiry.
“I can confirm that inside here is the video footage that our surveillance camera was able to record for the 20th of October,” he said.
Explaining why the camera stopped working, Omomuwa said, “The major cause is because of network.”
He said: “I can confirm categorically we never, ever, tampered with the surveillance camera. That is why we can get the footage.
“It remained there until about 8pm when it was tampered with and we couldn’t get anything.”
Meanwhile, the panel has declined the request by Lekki Concession Company to “take back possession” of the tollgate.
The panel in a short ruling by the chairman, Justice Doris Okuwobi declined the request by the operators of the tollgate, saying the tollgate plaza would remain closed.
The judge said the panel might have a need to pay another visit to the tollgate plaza after watching the video footage from a surveillance camera submitted by the LCC on Tuesday.
Counsel for LCC, Rotimi Seriki, had urged the panel to allow the firm “take possession” of the tollgate plaza to evaluate the level of damage for the purpose of insurance claims.
Seriki was reinforcing an earlier request at the proceeding by the LCC Managing Director, Abayomi Omomuwa, who said save for last Friday when he led the panel on a visit to the toll plaza, the place had been inaccessible to LCC management.
Omomuwa said from what he saw during last Friday visit, the level of damage was so much, it would take LCC not less than six months to fix the tollgate plaza.
Omomuwa, who was answering a question on how soon the tollgate would resume operation, said, “Any projection made here will just be guesswork. When we went there that day, I saw the level of damage. The whole tolling system is completely destroyed. It will not take anything less than six months to fix.
“I want to plead that they let us have access so that we can process insurance.”
Seriki, said, “My humble request is that if the tribunal doesn’t have further need to visit the plaza, the LCC should be permitted to take back possession of the toll plaza for the purpose of evaluation of the damage and commence the process of carrying out necessary repairs.”
But in her ruling, Okuwobi said the panel agreed that it was necessary for LCC to go and evaluate the level of damage “but we will not grant that access yet. The need may arise for the panel to revisit.”
The panel chairman encouraged LCC to make the application after the panel must have watched the video footage submitted by the firm.