Lawyers under the aegis of the Eti-Osa Bar Forum in Lagos State on Monday lambasted the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Adewale Onigbanjo, for supporting the brutalisation of protesters at the Lekki tollgate on Saturday.
The lawyers spoke in a statement by their Chairman, Oladotun Hassan, and Secretary, Ayo Ademiluyi.
They also slammed Information minister Lai Mohammed for showing undue interest in issues about the tollgate.
The statement titled: Why we will oppose descent to anarchy,’ reads: “We welcome members of the Press to this historic World Press Conference as we examine the ugly repression of the 13th February, 2021 #OccupyLekkiTollGate Protests by the machines of state terror of the Nigerian government. The level of unwarranted attack of the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protesters with the pictures and videos of their harrassment , torture, arrest and detention circulating around the world has left many to query whether Nigeria is still under democracy.
THE “SHOW OF FORCE” ON FRIDAY, 12TH FEBRUARY, 2021 BY LAGOS STATE POLICE COMMAND IS A SHOW OF SHAME
We are completely worried as a Forum of legal practitioners that citizens within the jurisdiction of our Forum woke up on Friday, 12th February, 2021 to witness scores of heavily armed police officers at the Lekki Toll Gate , displaying a “show of force” to intimidate would-be #OccupyLekkiTollGate protesters for the protest scheduled for Saturday, 13th February, 2021.
Human and vehicular movement were subjected to restrctions during the course of the “Show of Force”.
We condemn in its entirety this act of mass criminalisation of citizens of our jurisdiction by the conduct of the Lagos State Police Command of the Nigerian Police
Force. The action amounts to derogation of democratic rights of citizens under a supposed democracy.
WE DECRY THE ROLE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF LAGOS STATE
This “Show of Force” which is actually a “Show of Shame” was acting to the script by the police officers and men of Lagos State Police Command of the threats to repress the #OccupyLekkiTollGates protest via the Joint Press Conference of the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, CP Hakeem Odumosu , the Commissioner of Lagos State Police Command and the Commissioner of Information of Lagos State.
We are disturbed by the overall conduct of the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo in particular. As the Chief Law Officer of the Lagos State Government, the Office of the Attorney General of Lagos State is meant to be for the defence of constitutionalism and rule of law and not a mouthpiece for impunity.
We are worried that instead of the Attorney General of Lagos State advising the Lagos State Government to respect the rights of the #OccupyLekkiTollGatesrprotesters to their rights to lawful assembly or p
any other persons who wish to express their grievances within the armbit of the law with provision of protection for them by the Nigerian Police Force, the Attorney General resorted to threatening #OccupyLekkiTollGate with possible arrest in cahoot with the Commissioner of Police , Lagos State Police Command, openly.
WE QUESTION THE ANTI-DEMOCRATIC VITROIL OF INFORMATION AND DEFENCE MINISTERS
We are nonplussed by the ANTI-DEMOCRATIC vitroil of the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who has more than a passing interest in the reopening of the Lekki Toll Gate.
We are shocked with the
statements of the Defence Minister in particular, who asserted that minimum force will be applied to protesters. This is clearly undemocratic as we are not in the jackboot days of military authoritarianism.
BRUTAL REPRESSION OF #OCCUPYLEKKITOLL
GATES PROTESTERS SHOW NO END IN SIGHT FOR POLICE BRUTALITY
As the morning of 13th February, 2021 dawned and as protesters trickled into the protest ground at the Lekki Toll Gate, they were picked up and brutalised by combined forces of the men of the Nigerian Police Force and interestingly the Lekki Concession Company”Enforcement” Team.
The nature of the brutalisations of the arrested protesters including the inhumane treatment they were subjected to drew the ire of many across the world . Of note is the beating that Debo Adebayo, popularly known as MC Macaroni
and his fellow arrested protesters received in the hands of the police officers .
We call for the investigation and arrest of the police officers who were involved in this dastardly acts. We are of the view that these attacks represent the reality that police brutality which the #EndSARS protests want to end and which many died for in the course of the protests have not ended.
WE WILL CHALLENGE THE “ENFORCEMENT” POWERS OF THE LEKKI COÑCESSION COMPANY
We are quick to question the role of the Lekki Concession Company “Enforcement” Team in the arrest and detention of the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protesters . We find it questionable that a private limited liability company will keep and run an “Enforcement” Arm .
We will challenge the legality or otherwise of the powers of the Lekki Concession Company to maintain this Enforcement Arm in the Court of competent jurisdiction.
BREACH OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF CITIZENS WILL NOT GO UNCHALLENGED
We hereby give notice that we are in consultations with our clients , the arrested #OccupyLekkiTollGates Protesters to bring an action against the President of the Federal Republic , the Minister of Information, the Defence Minister, the Governor of Lagos State, the Attorney General of Lagos State, the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Police of Lagos State and Lekki Concession Company for the infringement of their fundamental rights.
WHY THE LEKKI TOLL GATES MUST NOT BE REOPENED
On a final note, we want reaffirm our preparedness to challenge judicially the order of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Compensation and Restitution for Victims of SARS-RELATED Abuses and Other Related Matters purportedly handing over the Lekki Toll Gates to the Lekki Concession Company while the investigation into the Lekki Shooting Matter has not been concluded .
Morealso,the Lekki Toll Gates cannot be reopened as the Buy-Back Agreement has excised the interest of the Lekki Concession Company in the management of the Lekki-Epe Expressway and further tolling of the expressway by Lagos State Government is unconstitutional, null and void .
We will keep our friends in the media aware of our next steps.”