By Chiemelie Ezeobi
The decision by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses to reopen the Lekki Tollgate has been met by stiff opposition by Nigerians who participated in the hijacked #EndSARS protest.
Majority of the nine-man panel had last Saturday granted the prayers of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to reopen the toll plaza, a move that has heated the polity and seen the resurgence of the #EndSARS social media campaign.
While five members of the panel saw reasons with the toll company to reopen, four others including a human rights lawyer and two youth representatives faulted the ruling.
As the judgment of the majority panel members became public, the protesters condemned the move, noting that the planned reopening of the toll made a mince meal of the over three weeks protest and the loss of lives recorded.
To register their grouse, the protesters vowed to storm the toll gate and rehash the Occupy Lekki Tollgate like they did for weeks last year before the army was called in by the Lagos State government to disperse the teeming crowd.
Tagged ‘OccupyLekkiTollGate to Sorosoke (Speak Out) and demand justice for all victims of #EndSARS Protest’ they disclosed that a physical but peaceful protest would be held on Saturday, February 13.
According to them, it was a slap in the face to quickly reopen the toll to generate income when justice was yet to be gotten for those that lost their lives during the last invasion by the army.
Like the previous protest, the protesters vowed not to have any leader, rather, they would go out as one voice to occupy the toll till the panel rescinds their decision.
Already, they have put plans in motion to resuscitate their once rested machinery in terms of logistics, medical, security, feeding and even legal aid.
Concerned Nigerians, a Civil Rights Movement committed to Human Rights also joined in opposing the purported re-opening.
Tweeting from their Twitter handle they wrote, “
#OccupyLekkiTollGate You can’t open a toll gate where victims of state sanctioned murder are yet to get justice. No Justice, No Re-Opening.”
Emmanuel Obikoya wrote: “ We will not allow these government to brainwash us. We need justice for those heroes that sacrificed their lives at the Lekki massacre. Enough of these oppression and tyranny #OccupyLekkiTollGate”
Nerfetiti tweeting from @Firstladyship wrote “#OccupyLekkiTollGate Send a strong message to the Lagos State Government. Let them know we are no fools.
“We won’t allow their proxies: the Lekki Concession Company, and the Judicial Panel-paid activists to rewrite history. They can’t silence us. #EndSARS will continue to haunt them.”
@Oloye_ wrote: “They thought we had forgotten. They thought they could get away with it. They thought we would be too scared to demand that justice is served. They thought my generation will be defeated. Forever, we soro soke.”
Meanwhile, ahead of the planned protest in Lekki and other security unrests happening in Lagos, especially in Alakuko, the Lagos State Police Command yesterday evening met with Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers and Commanders of Mobile units to restrategise.
According the command, the meeting was necessary given the recent scale of violent attacks across the state by criminal gangs and cultists.
Speaking on anonymity to THISDAY, a senior police officer said although the police have no plans to mar any peaceful protest, but they were worried a hijack by criminal elements would reoccur, thus throwing the state back to the aftermath of the violence experienced during the last protest.
The source said: “In the past few days, Lagos has been embroiled in several clashes between criminal gangs and cultists.
“Over the weekend, we experienced rival clashes in Itire and environs and that was contained by the police.
“We also experienced violence in Alakuko. In fact, peace was just restored to the area this Monday by a combination of force by security operatives from the police and military.
“Credible intelligence at our behest does not forebode well for any large scale protest now because of the pockets of violent activities going on.
“If you recall the aftermath of the last protest when these hoodlums hijacked it, large scale destruction of properties belonging to the police, individuals and even companies were recorded.
“No society can survive such massive scale destruction twice in a role in such a short space of time. So we are calling for caution on the part of the protesters.”