The Lagos State Government on Sunday say the Commissioner of Police will be questioned on the events at the Lekki Toll Gate – the venue for the planned #OccupyLekkiTollGate protests on February 13.
Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, Lagos State Commissioner for Justice, said this when he made an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
During the protest, comedian Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni, along with some others were arrested by the police.
They were also said to have been mistreated as videos that have now gone viral online, showed some of them being thrown shirtless into a police van.
The protesters had come out to oppose the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reopen the Lekki Toll Gate and hand it over to the Lekki Concession Company.
According to the Commissioner for Justice, the government has no problem with residents exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression or participation in peaceful protests, however, if the action of the protesters is seen to result in a breakdown of law and order, then that is where a crime is being committed.
He cited a breach of COVID-19 protocols as part of the offences of those arrested, as well as the fear that the exercise could go out of hand.
“We cannot afford the sort of vandalism we saw before,” Onigbanjo said.
He, however, stated that the CP will be asked to give proper accounts of the events that led to the arrests, especially if they indeed mistreated peaceful protesters.
“We condemn any act of brutality on the part of the police,” the commissioner said, explaining that the government is not the one who gives such orders.
“The Nigerian police force is a legal entity of its own, with its own processes.
“But the role of the police stops when it comes to prosecution. The state government will ask the CP to give an account of what happened”.
Onigbanjo further defended the state government, saying that the ideally, arrests made on weekends don’t get to be brought to court until Monday, but in the case of those arrested, mobile court was set up immediately and the arrested youths were allowed bail and released later that same day.
“We were hell-bent on ensuring that nobody’s right is trampled upon,” he said.