The Lekki Concession Company (LCC) yesterday resumed toll collection at the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge, with the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Abiodun Akabi warning against protest that may disrupt operations at the toll gate.
The LCC suspended toll collection at the Lekki-Ikoyi and Admiralty-Lekki toll gates after the violent #EndSARS protest on October 20, 2020 that claimed some lives.
Last March, when the Lagos State Government stated its resolve to reopen the Lekki-Ikoyi toll gate, there were dissenting voices and planned protests to dissuade the government. Many Nigerian youths and residents of that axis of Lagos insisted that protesters were killed while waving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem.
However, a statement issued yesterday by the Lagos police spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, quoted CP Alabi as warning that protesting at the tollgate was capable of grounding commercial activities in the area and obstructing the flow of traffic.
Alabi advised Nigerians to go about their lawful duties without fear of harassment and intimidation because the force would ensure the safety of lives and property.
The statement said, “While the command is not averse to the right to freedom of assembly, association and expression, the command will equally live up to its mandate of ensuring that no person or group of persons is allowed to infringe on the fundamental human rights of others, especially the rights to freedom of movement and right to dignity of human persons.
“CP Alabi therefore warns all intending protesters that anyone found infringing on the rights of other Nigerians will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“Meanwhile, CP Alabi once again enjoins all peace loving Lagosians to go about their lawful duties without fear of harassment or intimidation, reiterating that adequate security assets have been strategically deployed to ensure their safety and security.”
Regardless of the fact that tolling operations began yesterday at the Lekki-Ikoyi toll gate, the LCC said toll payment would not resume until Saturday,16 April.
LCC CEO, Yomi Omomuwasan said, “Whilst LCC is aware of the concerns by some stakeholders regarding the return to tolling, it is common knowledge that the government cannot, on its own, meet all the infrastructural needs of the ever-growing population.”
According to Omomuwasan, LCC had a meeting with Lekki communities and residents prior to the reopening and that the company was encouraged by the responses from “vast majority of residents and stakeholders.”
During the #EndSARS protest, the Lekki toll plaza on Lekki-Epe Expressway was the main protest theatre. An attack by Nigerian security agents on the unarmed protesters forced the closure of the two toll plazas.
A report by the Lagos State judicial panel in November 2021 proposed that the Lekki toll plaza be made a memorial site for the #EndSARS protest and renaming the plaza as #EndSARS Tollgate.
“The panel recommends that October 20th of every year, the day is made a ‘Toll Free Day’ at the Lekki Toll Gate as long as the tollgate exists,” the panel report said.