The federal government says it will resist a peaceful protest being planned next Saturday by Nigerian youths at the Lekki Tollgate where security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters last October.
Nigerians who participated in the hijacked #EndSARS protest are championing a campaign tagged: #OccupyLekkiTollGate after the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses decided to reopen the Lekki Tollgate last Saturday.
The nine-man panel had granted the prayers of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to reopen the toll plaza, a move that has generated anger and a resurgence of the #EndSARS social media campaign.
Expressing the government’s decision on Thursday in Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, warned that government will resist the proposed protest and not negotiate with the promoters.
He warned that while peaceful protests are the constitutional rights of Nigerians, violent protests are not. Toll gates are also not approved for protests, he added.
The EndSars campaign last October started as a peaceful protest against police brutality but resulted in wide-spread violence and loss of lives and property.
Mohammed said the government is now concerned that the OccupyLekkiTollGate peaceful protest will equally be hijacked by hoodlums.
He said based on the intelligence, some Nigerian activists have linked up with others outside Nigeria, including subversive elements, to destabilize the country.
“We cannot and must not allow this to happen,” he stressed. “We therefore strongly warn those who are planning to re-occupy Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday to desist.
“We know that many of those who have been loudest on social media in advertising the plan to reconvene in Lagos on Saturday are not even in Nigeria. They are elsewhere around the world fanning the embers of violence and inciting gullible people back home. No one should fall for their antics.
“Never again will the Federal Government allow the kind of violence that was perpetrated across the country under the guise of the EndSars last October.
“Never again will anyone or group be allowed to destroy cities or to kill and maim innocent citizens, including security agents, under any guise.”
The minister said that any further resort to violence in the name of EndSars will not be tolerated this time and that the security agents are ready for any eventuality.
Asked what would likely be government response if the protesters go ahead with their threat to occupy Lekki Toll gate, he simply responded: “The security will do the needful.”
According to him, no government anywhere will allow a repeat of the kind of destruction, killing and maiming wrought by the hijackers of EndSars protests last year.
He said authorities are keenly watching the role being played by the various social media platforms in this renewed clamour for violence in the country.
“I hope we have all learnt our lessons. If we allow them to destroy our country, we will bear the brunt.”
He said for those who are using justice as an alibi for another round of destruction, the Judicial Panels of Inquiry, set up across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings, to deliver justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other police units, are continuing with the assignments.
He said in Lagos, the Judicial Panel of Inquiry has an added responsibility of investigating the incident of October 20th at the Lekki Toll Gate. He urged anyone who has any information on the alleged shooting or purported massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate, including the names and addresses of those who were purportedly killed, to visit the Panel of inquiry.
“This is how to enhance the search for justice, not by rabble-rousing or engaging in media shows.”