Youth Reps, Senior Lawyer Oppose Reopening Of Lekki Tollgate
Youth representatives at the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Saturday opposed the reopening of the Lekki toll gate.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa also noted that reopening the toll-gate at this time would be hasty and premature.
Chairman of the Judicial Panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi earlier on Saturday ruled that the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) could repossess the toll gate, which has been closed since October.
In a statement published on Twitter after the ruling, the youth representatives, Rinu Oduala and Temitope Majekodunmi, said their “dissent wasn’t reflected in the ruling.”
According to the representatives, the incidents that led to the closure of the toll gate are yet to be resolved.
On October 20, military officials shot at #EndSARS protesters occupying the toll gate, in what has been described as a massacre by eyewitnesses. However, the Nigerian government and military have denied any wrongdoing.
“We must highlight clearly, what is of critical importance to ensure there is a full & thorough investigation into the Lekki Toll Gate incidence; ensure justice for all victims; & that any & every one found culpable is identified & recommended for appropriate action under the law,” the youth representatives said in their statement.
“We understand from the Forensic Report submitted by the expert employed by the panel, LCC management has, despite requests, failed to provide information, which includes access to servers; who ordered the extraction of CCTV footage; date & time of extraction of the footage from the CCTV; method used for the extraction as well as such other information which may be useful for purposes of the forensic examination & report.
“None of these have been provided by LCC and so it is impossible to conclude that investigations are over. It is therefore imperative that the Lekki Toll Gate management should not be allowed to repossess the toll gate until full investigations are concluded
LEKKI TOLL GATE REOPENING:
The Youth Reps at the Lagos judicial panel of inquiry and restitution for victims of SARS related abuses & Lekki Toll Gate Incident will like to formally express our dissent to the Order allowing for the repossession of Lekki Toll Gate.
— Lagosyouthreps (@lagosyouthreps) February 6, 2021
“This is especially important as victims of the Lekki Toll Incident are yet to be heard and the public is still in the dark on the full details of the Incidence.
“Based on these facts, we are of the considered view that the Lekki Toll Gate remain shut and under the purview of the Panel until full investigations and hearings are concluded by this Panel.
“We do not have any intention to obstruct the rulings of the panel. We only want our dissent to be on record. We are committed to ensuring justice for victims.”
‘An Insensitive Decision’
In his dissenting statement, Adegboruwa, who is also a human rights lawyer, averred that the panel is yet to come to any findings in respect of the October 20 events and any takeover by LCC will be prejudicial to the ultimate findings of the panel.
He also said that the panel is yet to ascertain the claims and counterclaims of fatalities and massacre of citizens on October 20 and if indeed such is established, a takeover at this time will be insensitive, callous, and totally uncharitable to the memories of those who may have died.
“The panel commissioned a forensic expert to undertake a forensic examination of the toll plaza, to examine documents, videos & CCT footages submitted and the panel is yet to receive a comprehensive report or the full details of the forensic report,” he said.
He also noted that the panel has summoned the Lagos State Government to appear and offer its accounts of October 20, especially following serious allegations made by the Nigerian Army against the state government.
“The Governor of Lagos in an open broadcast promised to handover to the panel a camera picked up by the Hon. Minister of works & housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN),” he added. “This has not happened.
“Allegations have also been made against the company responsible for the billboards at the Admiralty Toll Plaza as to who did and why the electricity was switched off on October 20 prior to the invasion by the army. The company is yet to appear before the panel.
“Summons have been issued for the appearance and testimony of the Chief Pathologist of Lagos to tender autopsy reports of death and CCTV footages of all mortuaries in Lagos from Oct 20. They are yet to appear”.
He stressed that a takeover of the toll plaza by this time is hasty, premature, and will overreach the work and eventual recommendations of the panel.