Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
Lekki Toll Gate is currently under strict surveillance by members of the Nigerian Police Force.
After the Lagos Judicial Panel announced its approval for the reopening of Lekki Toll Gate on February 6, 2021, Nigerians online did not waste time voicing their displeasure regarding that decision.
This move by the Lagos Judicial Panel, which has been tasked with investigating the cases of police violence in Lagos and particularly the shooting of innocent protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, inspired the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest slated to happen today, February 13, 2021, at 7 a.m.
With this latest protest call gaining momentum and garnering support from Nigerians online, the Federal Government of Nigeria issued a warning to protesters asking them to abandon the planned demonstrations.
What exactly did the government say?
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, on Thursday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said, “At this time, the chances that any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high.” He also admitted that while peaceful protests are constitutionally permitted, there are no guarantees that the latest protests would be nonviolent. “Based on the intelligence at the disposal of the federal government, some Nigerian activists have linked up with others outside Nigeria, including subversive elements, with a view to destabilising the country. We cannot, and must not, allow this to happen,” he said.
But that wasn’t the only opposition to the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protests.
The Minister’s speech followed at the heels of #ProtectLagos, a planned counter-protest organized by unidentified bodies in response to the planned #OccupyLekkiTollGate demonstrations, which the Minister failed to take note of, or speak on.
What’s happening now?
According to numerous eye-witness reports and visual evidence uploaded on social media, the Nigerian Police Force stationed themselves at the Lekki Toll Gate yesterday, Friday, February 12, 2021, just as the Minister’s speech promised.
But even though the Lagos state CP claimed the police officers at Lekki Toll Gate “ are there to keep peace and orderliness in that environment”,” the situation is much different.
The police officers on the ground were seen earlier today chanting, “No retreat, No surrender!” in anticipation of protesters who are coming out today.
Right now, over 20 suspected protesters have been arrested.
From what can be deduced from BBC Pidgin Live, people are being assaulted before being arrested without any explanation. With only a few people just gathering at the protest location, the police officers have been carting away people walking around the area, leaving out only the journalists, themselves, and the cars driving past the toll gate.
This is the moment they arrested popular comedian and social activist Debo Adebayo, (aka) Mr. Macaroni.
A clip of Mr. Adebayo held alongside other Nigerians in a Black Maria before his phone was allegedly taken away from him.
And here are videos of other arrests being carried out without explanations or provocations.
What are people doing about it?
For one, the #Endsars Legal team seem to be abreast of the situation and are working to secure the release of those who have been arrested.
As things stand now, it is unclear if the protest will go on as planned, but from recent reports from Channels Television on the situation, Lekki Toll Gate is still mostly occupied by journalists covering the developments and police officers ready to arrest more protesters. We will continue to update you as things develop.