The Lagos State Police Command said 34 people were arrested and arraigned during the memorial procession held at the Lekki tollgate to mark the one year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests.
In a statement on Thursday, the spokesman for the command, Adekunle Ajisebutu, explained that the arrested persons were arraigned before Magistrate Israel Adelakun of a Magistrate Court for the offence of conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.
“Two cutlasses, one hammer, a jackknife, and assorted criminal charms were recovered from them,” he said.
Ajisebutu stated that the memorial procession held as scheduled and carried out by protesters who moved in a motorcade through the Lekki toll gate between 8am and 10am.
“The protest was peaceful without threat to security, except for the brief gridlock experienced by motorists during the period,” he added. “However, at about 1130hrs after the real protesters had left peacefully without any confrontation, hoodlums took advantage of the gridlock with criminal intention to start attacking innocent law-abiding citizens.
“One Shina Edun ‘m’, of Man O’ War Nigeria attached to the Lekki Concession Company was stabbed in the stomach by the hoodlums. The victim was immediately rushed to the hospital where he is currently receiving medical attention.”
The command’s spokesman stated that during their arraignment, two of the arrested persons pleaded guilty and were fined N10,000 each.
Others, according to him, pleaded not guilty and were granted bail with one surety and N20,000 in like sum, while one of them was discharged and acquitted.
Ajisebutu revealed that one Chukwu Chika, who was arrested with a cutlass and assorted charms, confessed during his trial that he deliberately came to cause violence.
The court ordered the police to carry out a thorough investigation into his case and charge him appropriately.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday said he has ordered the release of those arrested during the one year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests in the state.
This followed the memorial procession held on Wednesday at the Lekki tollgate, in hounor of victims of police brutality and to commemorate the one year anniversary of the protests that forced the Nigeria Police to disband its Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“Yesterday (Wednesday), we saw a protest in Lagos and everybody that was arrested in connection with the protest has been released, except an individual that was caught with dangerous weapons and who confessed to the police that he joined the protest to cause mayhem,” the governor said.
He commended the police for identifying and isolating troublemakers from law-abiding people who conducted themselves in line with the laws.
While extending a hand of fellowship to the youth to be stakeholders in the development of the state, Governor Sanwo-Olu reiterated his commitment to reconciliation.
He also asked the young citizens to join the rebuilding effort in order to restore the operating capacity of institutions affected in the violence recorded in 2020.
Speaking on the rebuilding effort, the governor explained that the destruction had slowed down operational activities of the affected public institutions, but stressed that the state government would not shy away from its responsibility to rebuild the facilities and restore their operating capacity.
Reacting to the report of the Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution being awaited, he said his administration would make the full report available to the public.
Governor Sanwo-Olu gave an assurance that the government would not make any attempt to cover up the recommendations of the panel, whether it was in its favour or not.
“The panel concluded its sittings about three days ago and has asked for time to put the reports together behind closed doors,” he said. “We do not know the content of the report, but we want to say publicly that upon the handover of the report, we will be making it public.
“We will not cover up anything. This is not who we are and that is not what our government stands for.”
The Federal Government has directed the leadership of all security agencies in the country to conduct periodic psychiatric evaluations and drug tests on their men to forestall issues of human rights violations and extra-judicial killings by security operatives.
Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture stated this while briefing journalists in Abuja.
He said the National Executive Council has mandated that all arms-bearing security agencies ensure they carry out the same test on anyone seeking to be enlisted.
“NEC called on the leadership of the security agencies to ensure that persons recruited into arms-bearing security agencies undergo psychiatric evaluations and drug tests before enlistment and periodically after enlistment to ensure that the personnel is psychologically fit to carry live weapons and to identify behavioural tendencies that may require psycho-social interventions,” he said.
The Minister also faulted the reports on the alleged Lekki tollgate shooting, particularly by the Cable News Network (CNN) and Amnesty International, describing them as fake.
According to him, one year down the line, no family members of those allegedly killed have come out to testify about their claims and that there have been inconsistencies in the report on the number of those said to have been killed.
He equally assured that compensations will be paid to victims of police brutality as recommended by the various panels set up across the country, adding that security agents also indicted during the panels’ investigations will be prosecuted.
The Minister’s remarks come on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protest held across different parts of the country and in Abuja.
#EndSARS advocate, Rinu Oduala, has criticised the Nigerian Government, saying it lacks the political will to end police brutality across the nation.
Ms. Oduala stated this on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, to mark the one anniversary of the #EndSARS protest.
“I say with all confidence that I do not think that the Nigerian Government possesses the political will to end police brutality because they benefit from our indignity; they lack proactive action, political will, and implementation of policies”, she said.
According to her, the government lacks external accountability mechanism in handling the issues surrounding police brutality.
She believes despite the protests held last year and actions taken by the government, the police officers have yet to stop extorting innocent citizens.
“From October last year till now, are police officers still not extorting Nigerian citizens, harassing them?” Oduala queried. “Just in September, from reports that I know of, over 10 young Nigerians were killed extra-judicially by police officers across Nigeria.
“We should ask our policymakers if they are focused on ending police brutality? From the panels, are we paying victims no matter how small the amount is for the injustice meted to them and letting the criminals who got them to this situation get a pat on the back, or are we making sure that we set systems that ensure that cases of police brutality reduce drastically?”
Rinu, while speaking about her experience as a member of the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters, stated that most of the victims who came to the panel just wanted the public to know that they were victims of police brutality.
“Nigerians that were at the panel just wanted the world, the public to know that they were also victims of police brutality, and it’s not just a myth.
“Some of these people have been given an opportunity to air their complaints and anger to the world; it shows that we are doing something right,” she said.
“As a member of the panel, the number of cases I have seen shows we are winning something. A year after, the five-for-five demands are still yet to be met.
“Some protesters who were put in prison are still there, what are the police afraid of? These protesters were charged for frivolous things.”
A year after the Lekki tollgate shooting, celebrities and youths held a memorial car procession at the same venue in Lagos State.
The procession announced by rapper Falz and comedian Mr Macaroni took place amid heavy security presence to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that led to the disbandment of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police.
Amnesty International on Wednesday insisted that the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 people on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki toll gate and Alausa in Lagos.
Youths had gathered across the country agitating for good governance and an end to police brutality when soldiers stormed the Lekki tollgate and fired live ammunition killing some protesters while injuring others.
Although the situation garnered condemnation from many, the Federal Government had faulted the Cable News Network (CNN), Amnesty International among others, saying there is no proof that any protester was killed.
But in a press release on Wednesday, Amnesty International said an investigation by the organization found that Nigerian security officials were culpable.
According to the group, it was able to establish that pro-government supporters instigated violence at many of the demonstrations, providing cover for the police to use lethal force against peaceful protesters.
“Under the pretext of restoring order, horrific injuries were inflicted on hundreds of people and at least 56 people were killed, among them dozens of young people lost their lives as Nigerian security forces used unnecessary and excessive force to disperse peaceful protesters across the country,” the statement read.
“It is unacceptable that despite overwhelming evidence, the government continues to deny the use of live ammunition on protesters at Lekki toll gate exactly a year ago.”
The organization also found that detained protesters were tortured and refused or denied immediate access to lawyers.
After a year on, Amnesty explained that despite what it calls the huge gravity of offence, no security operative has been prosecuted by the authorities.
The body called on President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill his promise of reforming the police to end the reign of impunity Nigerians have been protesting against for many years.
It added, “Failure to bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the torture and killings of #EndSARS protesters on 20 October 2020 is yet another indication that Nigerian authorities lack the political will to ensure accountability for these atrocities, and end police brutality.”
Two persons have been arrested during a car procession ongoing at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State.
The police arrested the two men on Wednesday morning amid the parade organised to mark the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests.
“I did not do anything,” said one of the young men before his arrest. “They beat me, they collected my phone, they took my money; the police have not learnt their lessons.”
Shortly after they were arrested, both men were taken into a waiting truck of the Lagos State Task Force, after which the vehicle zoomed off.
While the police are stationed at the tollgate for security purposes, officials of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) are maintaining a free flow of traffic.
One of the protesters was arrested while talking to reporters who were at the tollgate to cover the procession. Before this, there was an altercation between some members of the press and the security officials.
‘We Know Their Way’
On Tuesday, rapper Falz and comedian Mr Macaroni shared an e-flier to announce a car procession to mark one year anniversary of the protests that led to the disbandment of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police.
In the flier posted on their verified Instagram handles, they said the car procession would be held in honour of the victims of police brutality in Lagos and other parts of the country.
“In memory of those who died that day and those we have lost to police brutality, we will: drive through the toll gate from 8-10 am; blast our horns in unison as we drive through and wave our flags,” the leaflet read. “Innocent Nigerian citizens waved flags and sang till they were shot at, injured and killed. We must never forget.”
Both celebrities had, however, appealed to persons interested in the procession to stay guided and stay in their vehicles throughout the parade, as well as in groups for safety reasons.
“We’re rolling up in cars tomorrow (Wednesday) to drive through the tollgate. We know their way, so a procession of cars is the safest option to minimize police harassment. We will stay in our vehicles throughout.”
Odumosu explained that such approval will enable police deployment for adequate protection against hoodlums who could hijack the exercise.
“If you want to go on vehicular procession, okay. They are not going to stop somewhere, come down somewhere and converge somewhere,” he said.
The police, Odumosu stated, “want the criminally minded people to know that the police is up to take care of them.”
He explained that the need to reassure Lagos residents is to douse the tension that has enveloped the state of recent.
To avoid a reoccurrence of the mayhem witnessed last year, the police have assured Lagos residents that it would not abdicate its responsibilities of protection of lives and properties by allowing a repeat of the incident.
Police operatives have been patrolling the streets in armoured tanks and other vehicles ahead of October 20, the day set for the #EndSARS Memorial protests.
This is coming a few hours when youths in the country are preparing to commemorate the first anniversary of #EndSARS, a protest movement against police brutality that rocked major cities in the country.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel on restitution for victims of SARS-related abuses and other matters has held its valedictory sitting after 131 proceedings.
Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, who read out the decisions of the panel on Monday, announced the award of N148.2 million to 23 deserving petitioners.
They include Michael Owoicho – N10 million, Fatai Ogunseye (late) – N10 million, Adeola Mukaila – N700,000, Stella Edegwa – N500,000, Akapo Adekunle – N10 million, Mustapha Ramot – N10 million, Kufre Jackson – N5 million, Ikechukwu Iloamuzor (late) – N10 million, Segun Adekoya (unlawful arrest by the police) – N1 million, Yusuf Omole – N10 million, and Segun Ishola (injuries sustained from gunshot) – N5 million.
Others are Mr and Mrs Julius Adeogun – N10 million, Okoronkwo Sylvester (late) – N10 million, Titi Agnes – N10 million, Prince Akaba – N500,000, Chukwudera Uba – N4 million, Seun Bamgbose – N10 million, Abayomi Likinyo – N4 million, James Arebha – N4 million, Juliana Adeoti – N1 million, Adaeze Samson – N2.5 million, Yemi Abdulkareem – N10 million, and Gabriel Ayedungbe – 10 million.
As a result, the panel has now awarded a total of N410 million to 70 victims.
Justice Okuwobi also revealed that the panel has concluded its investigations into the shooting at the Lekki tollgate – one of the venues of the #EndSARS protests in Lagos.
She, however, stated that the panel was working on its report which would be submitted to the state government which was expected to declare the report publicly.
The panel assured petitioners that its recommendations would include compensation to victims of the Lekki tollgate incident if any was identified.
According to the chairman, recommendations will also be made for policemen who were victims of the #EndSARS protests held in 2020.
She added that petitions that have been partly heard, and those that were not concluded or heard would be sent to the supervising Lagos State Ministry of Justice, which may set up a human rights body to handle them.
The judicial panel set up by the state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on October 19, 2020, was mandated to investigate cases of brutality and human rights abuses by the Police and its disbanded tactical unit.
On October 19, 2020, the Lagos State government inaugurated a nine-man Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate cases of brutality and human rights violations perpetrated by the police and operatives of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The panel was also saddled with the investigation of the alleged shooting of protesters by the Nigerian Army on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki tollgate plaza.
It received 235 petitions between October and December 2020, while only 14 petitions were submitted on the alleged Lekki shooting incident.
Rights have often been termed the most important characteristics of democracy and they are a defining identifier of what nations are truly free.
Freedoms, however, cannot exist without checks, for by doing so, one may infringe on the rights of others. Hence, the need for laws and the tenets as enshrined within the constitution.
Drawing a line between the people’s rights and the upholding of laws tends to have been the bane of what was experienced in the passing, and might as well be for a few more days to come especially as the new week marks the anniversary of the #EndSARS movement.
While there are propositions to hold another match in honour of those who lost their lives last year, the authorities have warned against such an initiative, fearing that things might degenerate as they did the last time.
As with all debates regarding rights, the issue of infringements was a major theme explored by thought leaders in Nigeria and across the globe, last week. Here are some quotes from various engagements at different occasions; when pieced together, these sayings give a perfect sense of what the pressing issues are both here in the country and across the world.
1. “Lagosians and indeed Nigerians cannot afford to relive the distasteful experience of last year’s protest which caused pain, anguish, needless loss of lives and wanton destruction of public and private property.”
Police in Lagos State have warned against planned protests in commemoration of last year’s #EndSARS protests.
2. “The police’s stance is “illegal as they constitute a gross infringement of the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly guaranteed by sections 38 and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution as well as articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.”
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, says the police lacks the power to ban public protests in Nigeria.
8. “Once the National Assembly has finished the process of reviewing the Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020 and is forwarded to me, I would speedily subject it to the necessary executive checks and sign it into law.’’
President Buhari says he will hasten the signing of the Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020 once it lands on his desk.
9. “In the same spirit, I say to President Muhammadu Buhari: Mr President, stop passing the buck to the National Assembly. Tear down this inhibiting concoction of a constitution; tear it down so we can build a truly great nation”.
Pastor Tunde Bakare urges President Muhammadu Buhari to do away with the 1999 constitution, saying it is a great inhibitor of the nation’s progress.
10. “I have seen the great Obafemi Awolowo. The charismatic Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik of Africa). Shehu Shagari. Amino Kano. M.K.O Abiola. Bashir Tofa, and many others in action. But I have not seen anyone with the kind of attraction, magnetic pull, that Muhammadu Buhari has. And that is round the country, north and south. People swarm around him as bees do to honey.”
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says President Muhammadu Buhari has attained greater acceptance among Nigerians even more than some fathers of the federation.
11. “I tested them and fired them before our election. When I was asked that I would lose the second term, I said if losing second term in office will give Kaduna State children a future with better primary education, I am ready to let it go.”
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, explains how he was willing to sacrifice his second-term ambition in order to give children from his state quality education.
12. “We have defended our championship and brought back the cup in 2019 and 2021 which is historical but still no invitation has been extended to the team to visit Aso Rock or a presidential handshake, why?”
One of the D’Tigress players, Victoria Macaulay speaks as the team protests over their unpaid wages and allowances.
15. “Persons recruited into arms-bearing security agencies (should) undergo psychiatric evaluations and drug tests before enlistment, and periodically after enlistment to ensure that the personnel are psychologically fit to carry live weapons and to identify behavioural tendencies that may require psycho-social interventions.”
The National Economic Council recommends psychiatric evaluation and drug tests for those seeking to be enlisted into various security agencies, especially the arms-bearing outfits.
16. “I think I’ve shown that I’m a politician with integrity and I have made it very clear that I didn’t leave the other party on my own, I was pushed out of the party, and someone else gave me cover, gave me an opportunity.”
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, again says he has no intention of returning to the All Progressives Congress (APC), where he was pushed out.
17. “The account holder shall be prohibited from all electronic channels such as but not limited to ATM, POS, Internet Banking, Mobile Banking, USSD including the issuance of third-party cheques.”
In line with its objective of promoting financial system stability, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issues a Revised Regulatory Framework for Bank Verification Number (BVN) operations and Watch-List for the Nigerian Banking Industry.
18. “Professor Osinbajo is not calling for the devaluation of the Naira. He has at all times argued against a willy-nilly devaluation of the Naira.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says he is not calling for the devaluation of the naira contrary to some reports that trailed his speech at the opening session of the mid-term ministerial performance review retreat.
19. ‘‘The PIDF projects are also advancing remarkably. These include the 11.9km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, 375 km Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Expressway and the East West Road. Most of these projects are expected to be completed within this 2nd term of our Administration.’’
Buhari assures Nigerians that the 11.9km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and other key projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) will be completed within the second term of this administration.
20. “Nigeria will remain undaunted in adopting dynamic strategies to counter new approaches adopted by organised criminals, in order to make drug trafficking unattractive while ensuring forfeiture of the criminally derived assets, a tested and powerful deterrent to the proliferation of drug crimes and criminalities.”
Chairman and Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) assures the international community of Nigeria’s preparedness and determination to go after the assets of drug barons and traffickers in any part of the country.
21. “While appreciating the role of lawful peaceful protests in the advancement of public discourse under democratic governance, the National Economic Council (NEC) strongly advise those planning public protests across the country to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS, to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement.”
The National Executive Council (NEC) advises organisers of the #EndSARS protests to reconsider their plan to stage any protest in commemoration of the one-year anniversary since the demonstrations were held in various parts of the country.
Organisers of the #EndSARS protests have been advised to reconsider their plan to stage any protest in commemoration of the one-year anniversary since the demonstrations were held in various parts of the country.
The National Economic Council (NEC) made the call on Friday in an advisory on public protests, saying such a plan should be shelved considering the nation’s security situation.
“While appreciating the role of lawful peaceful protests in the advancement of public discourse under democratic governance, the National Economic Council (NEC) strongly advise those planning public protests across the country to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS, to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement,” the council headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said in the advisory.
“This is because of the current security situation across the country and the possibility of such protests being hijacked by armed hoodlums and other opportunistic criminals to cause mayhem at such protest events and venues. Council, therefore, urges the organisers to reconsider their plan.”
Thousands of young Nigerians occupied strategic places in parts of the country in October 2020, demanding the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) over alleged human rights violations.
While the protests held for several days, there was a shooting by a team of security operatives who stormed the venue of the demonstration in the Lekki area of Lagos.
In a bid to address the concerns raised by the protesting youths, NEC stated that the government – at the federal and state levels – has already taken actions to address the grievances that led to the protests.
It listed them to include the disbandment of SARS, broad police reforms, the establishment of judicial panels of inquiries to investigate allegations of human rights violations by members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, and prosecution of police personnel indicted by the panels.
The council explained that recommendations of the panels were already at various stages of implementation, including the setting up of Victims Compensation Funds from which “several victims have received payments of sums awarded to them” by the panels.
“These are commendable actions that ought to be taken to a logical conclusion in a peaceful atmosphere,” it said.
“Organisers of the planned protests should explore the various channels of communication with governments at various levels to advance their positions and avert the breakdown of law and order that may result from such public protests.”
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, says the police lacks the power to ban public protests in Nigeria.
He made the remark in a statement obtained by Channels Television on Thursday.
The Lagos state police on Monday had warned that it will “suppress planned protests” in commemoration of last year’s #EndSARS protests.
According to the police, the planned protests may lead to a “breakdown of law and order.”
But Falana said the police’s stance is “illegal as they constitute a gross infringement of the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly guaranteed by sections 38 and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution as well as articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.”
Falana stressed that since the police have been notified of the public rallies scheduled to hold on October 20, it is required to “make arrangements for the provision of adequate security for the participants at the venues of the rallies.”
The senior lawyer called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba Alkali, “to direct the Commissioners of Police in all the states of the Federation to ensure that adequate security is provided for all citizens who may wish to protest against the policies of the Government which are considered inimical to their interests.”
He added: “Since police permit has been outlawed and banned in Nigeria by the Federal High Court and affirmed by the Court of Appeal the Nigeria Police Force cannot be permitted to ban rallies without a repeal of the law on public meetings, rallies and processions in the country. In other words, the ban on public protests announced by the Police Authorities cannot obliterate the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nigerians to assemble peacefully and express themselves.
“After all, it is public knowledge that General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) and other leaders of the ruling All Progressive Congress who took part in public rallies against fuel hike in January 2012 and protests against insecurity in November 2014. To that extent, the Buhari administration ought to restrain the Police from banning peaceful rallies against police brutality on October 20, 2020 in any manner whatsoever and however.
“Finally, the Police and other security agencies should be reminded of the indisputable fact that neither the former British colonial police force nor the defunct neocolonial military junta succeeded in banning public protests in Nigeria.”