#EndSARS Commemoration: Lagos Protesters Set to Defy Ban, Plan Car Procession

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Lagos police in show of force

Chiemelie Ezeobi

Despite the order by the Lagos State Police Command banning all forms of street protest in commemoration of the one year anniversary of #EndSARS movement, the protesters have vowed to hold a car procession at Lekki Tollgate.

According to the protesters, the decision to commemorate the anniversary at Lekki Tollgate was because it was the epicentre of a watershed moment in the nation’s history.

Although the initial plan was to hold a memorial at the tollgate where protesters were shot at on October 20, 2020, that plan was shelved as the police command warned against such.

The next move was to turn the protest into a hybrid event with the physical aspect held at an event centre on Lagos Island, a move that was again shelved after the centre reportedly called to cancel the event, alluding to threats from some persons.

Not deterred, the organisers decided to turn the protest into a car procession past the tollgate with flags and placards to mourn the lives of those lost in the aftermath of the widespread violence that claimed lives and led to wanton destruction of properties.

Meanwhile, the police command held a show of force at the tollgate yesterday to show its determination to quell any form of protest whatsoever.

While warning intending protesters, the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu said the state could not afford a repeat of the destruction brought about by hoodlums who hijacked the protest last year.

In a statement made available to THISDAY by the state Police Spokesperson, CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, the command stressed that it would only allow an indoor and virtual event, adding that it would provide adequate security at the venue (s) if known.

The statement read thus: “ This is in recognition of rights of every Nigerian to express his or her interest. We wish we could permit such street protests.

“However, intelligence at our disposal has revealed plans by some faceless groups or individuals to stage an anti-EndSARS anniversary protest in the state same day.

“In view of the conflicting interest between the pro and anti- EndSARS anniversary groups and threat to cause mayhem, the Command once again warns both groups against any form of street protest between now and 20th October, 2021 and beyond.

“It is acknowledged that citizens have the right to peaceful protests. However, in this instance having carried out a critical security assessment and intelligence report at the disposal of the Lagos Command in respect of the planned protests and attendant implications on public safety, the command considers it inappropriate to allow such protests to hold. It will not stand aloof and allow breakdown of law and order which the protests may cause.

“To avoid a recurrence of the gory protests of last year during which some innocent Nigerians including police officers were gruesomely murdered, private and public property plundered and maliciously destroyed, the police will not abdicate their responsibilities of protection of lives and property by allowing such avoidable incident happen again in the state

“Therefore, in the interest of security and public safety, the Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, wishes to warn the organisers of the protests that the police will deploy all legitimate means to stop or neutralise the planned protests.

“Parents, guardians are admonished to warn their children against participating in the protests. Similarly, youths and other individuals or groups planning to take part in the protests are further warned in their own interest to shelve the plan.”