#EndSARS: Lagos Judicial Panel Awards N10m Each To Two Victims Of Police Brutality

 

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Restitution and Inquiry set up to investigate cases of police brutality especially involving officers of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), has begun awarding compensations to petitioners.

In a petition involving Mrs. Kudirat Adebayo Abayomi, who was killed by a police stray bullet in April 2017, the panel on Friday, recommended the prosecution of the erring police officers.

They also awarded the sum of N10 million as compensation to the family of the deceased, scholarship for the children, and a letter of apology to the family of the deceased from the police.

The second petitioner, Hannah Olugbode, is a 35-year-old hairdresser, who has been on crutches after her left leg was shattered by a stray bullet fired by some SARS officers around the Ijeshatedo area of Lagos.

 

 

N10 million was also awarded to her for the stress and anxiety she suffered, and to help her undergo treatment.

Although several cases have been brought before the panel, this is the first major move being made to compensate any victim since the panel was set up last year.

 

 

#OccupyLekkiTollGate

Two weeks ago, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, gave a ruling allowing the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) Ltd to repossess the toll gate – a decision that has been met with diverse views from Nigerians, many of whom are of the opinion that the toll gate should remain closed in honour of those who lost their lives during last year’s #EndSARS protests.

The toll gate had been one of the major converging points for the protesters in Lagos last year and was also the location for the infamous #LekkiShootings, masterminded by security operatives particularly men of the Nigerian Army.

Meanwhile, one of the prominent youths in the fight against police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the country, Rinu Oduala, had last week announced her decision to step down from the Judicial Panel.

“I will be stepping down from the Lagos Judicial Panel as it is now obvious that the government is only out to use us for performative actions,” she said in a series of tweets on Friday.

Read Also: #EndSARS: Rinu Steps Down From Lagos Judicial Panel, Accuses FG Of ‘Cover-Up’

Rinu and Majekodunmi Temitope had been sworn into the panel on October 27, 2020, to represent the youths in the wake of the nationwide #EndSARS protests.

While thanking the government for the invitation and some of the successes recorded from the panel, she, however, stated that she would not be part of a cover-up.

“What I will not do is be part of a cover-up. I am proud that I took the invitation because some of the successes the panel has recorded so far have been incredibly powerful for the people,” Rinu said.

Her decision followed the decision of the Judicial panel to return control of the Lekki toll gate plaza to the LCC.

Fresh demonstrations with the hashtag, #OccupyLekkiTollGate, emerged last Saturday in protest of the decision.

‘We Were Stripped Naked’: Comedian Macaroni Narrates Experience With Police At Toll Gate

Popular comedian Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni, at a police facility on February 13, 2021.
Popular comedian Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni, at a police facility on February 13, 2021.

 

Comedian  Debo Adebayo who is better known as Mr Macaroni has condemned the police for the treatment meted out to him and other protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, claiming that they were stripped naked. 

“When we were picked up, we were taken to Adeniji where we were beaten, we were stripped naked,” he said in a video posted on his Twitter handle on Sunday. Everyone was beaten.”

The comedian explained that he initially did not want to go for the protest as he had been warned by his family, but noted that he changed his mind because people will be at the Toll Gate. 

He claimed that his phone was also destroyed after he was arrested by the law enforcement agents.

“The only reason I went there is because I knew people would be there and in good conscience, I don’t know,” the comedian added. 

“But I knew people would die and I saw it, and I can confirm it that if words did not get out, people would have died because nobody would have known where anybody was or who picked up who.”

Macaroni and several others were on Saturday arrested by the police for protesting against the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reopen the toll gate, which was symbolic of last October’s  #EndSARS protests. They, were, however, granted bail. 

On October 20, military officials opened fire at peaceful protesters gathered at the toll.

READ ALSO: Popular Comedian, Mr Macaroni, Arrested At Lekki Toll Gate Protest

Although the Nigerian government and military have denied any wrongdoing, critics say it is premature to reopen the toll gate until all investigations are concluded.

The Federal Government had on Thursday warned against violence in the planned protest, going further to urge the organizers to cancel their demonstration.

Falz, Rihanna, Other Celebrities Condemn Arrest Of Lekki Tollgate Protesters

A protester decried the reopening of the Lekki toll gate on February 13, 2021.
A protester decried the reopening of the Lekki toll gate on February 13, 2021.

 

#EndSARS was one of the most prominent hashtags on Saturday as celebrities took to Twitter to condemn the arrest of peaceful protesters in the Lekki area of Lagos State.

Nigerian celebrities such as Folarin Falana, also known as Falz; Obianuju Udeh, professionally known as DJ Switch; Yemi Alade, and Rita Dominic among others, as well as, Barbadian singer, Rihanna, were among those who condemned the arrest of the protesters by the police.

See their tweets below:

A contested approval

The arrested young Nigerians had occupied the Lekki tollgate to protest the approval granted to the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to repossess the tollgate.

This approval was granted on Saturday last week by the Judicial Panel of inquiry set up by the Lagos State government to investigate police brutality of residents in the state.

The approval was faulted by one of its members and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ebun Adegboruwa.

Youth representatives on the panel also opposed the reopening.

The toll gate was symbolic of last October’s #EndSARS protests.

On October 20, military officials opened fire at peaceful protesters gathered at the toll.

Although the Nigerian government and military have denied any wrongdoing, critics say it is premature to reopen the toll gate until all investigations are concluded.

Senior Lawyer Demands ‘Immediate Release’ Of Arrested Lekki Toll Gate Protesters

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has called for the immediate release of protesters arrested at the Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday.

The protesters were railing against the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reopen the toll gate.

The toll gate was symbolic of last October’s #EndSARS protests.

On October 20, military officials opened fire at peaceful protesters gathered at the toll.

Although the Nigerian government and military have denied any wrongdoing, critics say it is premature to reopen the toll gate until all investigations are concluded.

In a statement titled ‘The Arrest, Detention and Dehumanization of Protesters at Lekki Toll Gate Are Unacceptable’, Adegboruwa, one of the members of the Lagos Judicial Panel who disagreed with the decision to reopen the toll, condemned the arrest of the protesters.

“My heart is very heavy,” he said. “I’m saddened and devastated. My soul is sorely troubled at this time.

“For decades before the advent of this administration, Nigerians have risked their lives, liberties, their times and their energies, their resources, to win back this country on the side of democracy and good government, from military dictatorship. Some have paid the supreme price with their lives.

“I have been monitoring events at the Lekki Toll Gate since morning, and I am totally overwhelmed with the images, videos and sundry evidence of police brutality of armless civilians, who ventured to protest at the Toll Gate. In one particular video, I saw citizens of Nigeria being dehumanized, striped half naked and cramped together in a rickety bus. This is totally unacceptable.

“While we are yet to come to terms with the events of October 20, 2020, it becomes worrisome that the security agencies have not learnt any positive lesson from those occurrences. I commend the protesters for their peaceful conduct.”

Adegboruwa also said he was considering exiting the panel.

“I cannot in good conscience continue to sit at any Panel of Inquiry to heal wounds and end police brutality, when fresh assaults are being perpetrated with impunity,” he said. “Consequently, I am presently consulting with my constituency within the civil society, as to my continued participation in the EndSARS Judicial Panel.

“I hereby demand the immediate release of all those arrested in connection with the peaceful protest at the Lekki Toll Gate today. On no account should anything happen to any of them while in the custody of the police.

“I appeal for calm on all sides, in order not to escalate the worsening security situation across the land. I cannot fail to point out the fact that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is a product of protest and civil disobedience. Let history vindicate the just.”

Police Arrest Protesters At Lekki Toll Gate

 

Police on Saturday arrested protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate as calls for the reopening of the facility to be suspended gain momentum.

The police had earlier on Friday launched a show-of-force exercise to express its disapproval of the planned protest.

On Saturday morning, the police picked up anyone they suspected to be at the toll gate for protest.

They also prevented journalists from moving close to the van where the protesters were being held.

To reopen or not?

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on February 6 had ordered that the toll gate be handed over back to the Lekki Concession Company for reopening.

But the panel’s decision was not unanimous as some members disagreed with the reopening since investigations into the events of October 20 were still ongoing.

The toll had been closed since October, during the #EndSARS protests, which called for an end to police brutality across the country.

A protester decried the reopening of the Lekki toll gate on February 13, 2021.
A protester decried the reopening of the Lekki toll gate on February 13, 2021.

 

On October 20, the Nigerian military shot at peaceful protesters occupying the toll, an event that was described as a massacre by some eyewitnesses.

The Nigerian government and military have denied any wrongdoing.

There should be “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 on the Lagos panel said in a February 6 statement, outlining their dissent.

Protests and counter-protests

By February 8, many Nigerians had taken to social media to express their displeasure at the toll’s reopening.

Banners announcing a protest for February 13 started to circulate.

Calls for a counter-protest, with the hashtag #DefendLagos, soon followed.

The Federal Government on Thursday warned against violence in the planned protests, going further to urge the organizers to cancel their demonstration.

Armed policemen were deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate on February 13, 2021.
Armed policemen were deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate on February 13, 2021.

 

“At this time, the chances that any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high. Any resort to violence in the name of #EndSARS will not be tolerated this time,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed said.

But there is no evidence, yet, that the protesters arrested on Saturday were violent.

Popular Comedian, Mr Macaroni, Arrested At Lekki Toll Gate Protest

A photo combination of popular comedian Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni. He was arrested at the Lekki Toll Gate on February 13, 2021.
A photo combination of popular comedian Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni. He was arrested at the Lekki Toll Gate on February 13, 2021.

 

Popular entertainer and activist, Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni, was on Saturday arrested at the Lekki Toll Gate.

The comedian had joined other protesters at the toll gate to oppose the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reopen the facility and hand it over to the Lekki Concession Company

“Na military regime?” Mr. Macaroni said after his arrest, on an Instagram Live while in a police van. “If na military, make we know sey na military, so make everybody dey hide.”

READ ALSO: Popular Comedian, Mr Macaroni, Arrested At Lekki Toll Gate Protest

His phone and that of other protesters were later seized by the police, ending his Instagram Live session.

Later on Saturday, a video clip surfaced on social media, of Mr. Macaroni half-naked and sweating in a bus choked with other arrested protesters.

 

The Federal Government on Thursday had warned against violence in the planned protest, going further to urge the organizers to cancel their demonstration.

“At this time, the chances that any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high. Any resort to violence in the name of #EndSARS will not be tolerated this time,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed said.

But there is no evidence that the protesters arrested on Saturday were violent.

 

PHOTOS: Sights And Scenes From The Lekki Tollgate Protest

Armed policemen were deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate on February 13, 2021.
Armed policemen were deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate on February 13, 2021.

 

It’s not just a busy day at the Lekki tollgate but one filled with resistance by a crowd of determined young Nigerians who staged a protest in that part of Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve centre on Saturday.

Angered by the decision to resume operations at the tollgate while the Lagos State Judicial Panel has yet to conclude its sitting, the youths took to the area to demonstrate their displeasure.

The Lekki tollgate is one of the major venues where hundreds of youths protested across the country against police brutality last October.

The protest venue became more prominent on the night of October 20, 2020 when a group of armed security operatives opened fire to disperse the youths at the scene.

This sparked outrage across the country, with calls from individuals and groups within and outside Nigeria that the incident must be investigated.

After a few months of probing the shooting, the judicial panel set up by the Lagos State government to investigate the incident granted the request of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) Ltd to repossess the toll gate.

The action of the panel led to the decision of the youths to return to the tollgate despite warnings by the government and police to shelve such a plan.

On Saturday, the youths made good with their threat to occupy the tollgate but were met with stiff resistance by the security personnel on the ground.

The police, who staged a show-of-force on Friday as a warning against the protest, arrested several youths, including popular comedian Mr Macaroni.

Some of the highpoints of the protest are captured in the pictures below:

 

A protester decried the reopening of the Lekki toll gate on February 13, 2021.
A lone protester decrying the reopening of the Lekki toll gate.
Armed policemen were deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate on February 13, 2021.
Armed policemen deployed to the Toll Gate.

 

A policeman stands watch at the toll gate.

 

A police armoured van at the toll gate.

 

Armed policemen line up at the toll.

 

Officials of the LCC push a van in which protesters were detained.

 

Journalists converged at the Lekki toll gate on February 13, 2021.
Journalists converge at the toll gate, observing the unravelling of events at the toll gate.

Police Tighten Security At Lekki Toll Gate Ahead Of Planned Protests

 

Less than 24 hours to the planned protest at the Lekki Toll Gate by some aggrieved youths, police authorities in the state have launched a show of force exercise to express its disapproval of the protest.

Policemen from the Rapid Response team staged a walk round the toll gate on Friday as they prepare to take positions in the area and other parts of the state on Saturday.

This is also coming less than 24 hours after the Federal and State governments warned youths not to embark on the protest, as they raised concerns that it may be hijacked by hoodlums and lead to lawlessness.

Read Also: #EndSARS: Rinu Steps Down From Lagos Judicial Panel, Accuses FG Of ‘Cover-Up’

The planned protest is in reaction to the decision of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution to return control of the Lekki Toll Gate plaza to its owners, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC).

The toll gate had been one of the major converging points for the protesters in Lagos last year and was also the location for the infamous #LekkiShootings, masterminded by security operatives particularly men of the Nigerian Army.

During the proceedings last Saturday the Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, gave a ruling allowing the LCC to repossess the toll gate –

But many Nigerians believe that the toll gate should remain closed in honour of those who lost their lives to the incident, hence sparking the new movement, #OccupyLekki.

Meanwhile, a counter-group promoting the hashtag #DefendLagos also scheduled its protest at the same venue.

Earlier today, one of the youths who has been at the forefront of the movement, Rinu Oduala, announced her decision to step down from the judicial panel.

She had been sworn into the panel on October 27, 2020, as youth representatives.

While thanking the government for the invitation and some of the successes recorded from the panel, she, however, stated that she would not be part of a cover-up.

“I will be stepping down from the Lagos Judicial Panel as it is now obvious that the government is only out to use us for performative actions,” Rinu said in series of tweets.

“What I will not do is be part of a cover-up. I am proud that I took the invitation because some of the successes the panel has recorded so far have been incredibly powerful for the people”.

#EndSARS: Rinu Steps Down From Lagos Judicial Panel, Accuses FG Of ‘Cover-Up’

Rinu Oduala (File Photo)

 

One of the prominent youths in the fight against police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the country, Rinu Oduala, has stepped down from the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up to investigate cases of police brutality in the state.

She announced the decision in a series of tweets on Friday.

“I will be stepping down from the Lagos Judicial Panel as it is now obvious that the government is only out to use us for performative actions,” she said.

Rinu and Majekodunmi Temitope had been sworn into the panel on October 27, 2020, to represent the youths in the wake of the nationwide #EndSARS protests.

While thanking the government for the invitation and some of the successes recorded from the panel, she, however, stated that she would not be part of a cover-up.

“What I will not do is be part of a cover-up. I am proud that I took the invitation because some of the successes the panel has recorded so far have been incredibly powerful for the people,” she said.

 

 

Her decision comes days after the Judicial panel returned control of the Lekki toll gate plaza to its owners, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC).

Read Also: No Protest Will Be Allowed In Any Part Of The State, Lagos CP Warns

The toll gate had been one of the major converging points for the protesters in Lagos last year and was also the location for the infamous #LekkiShootings, masterminded by security operatives particularly men of the Nigerian Army.

During the proceedings on Saturday, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, gave a ruling allowing the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) Ltd to repossess the toll gate – a decision that has been met with diverse views from Nigerians, many of whom are of the opinion that the toll gate should remain closed in honour of those lost their lives to the incident.

Fresh protests are believed to be looming, even as the toll gate is expected to undergo reconstruction and subsequently, resume full operations.

Reacting to the planned re-opening, Rinu said “my stand on the reopening on the toll gate is clear; the state govt & the private organisation operating the toll have not been cleared of collusion with elements allegedly deployed by the Federal Government to target citizens on home soil during a time of peace, without provocation”.

‘Don’t Flout COVID-19 Rules, Block Roads’: Lagos Warns Lekki Toll Protesters

 

The Lagos state government on Thursday warned protesters planning to converge at the Lekki toll gate on Saturday to desist from flouting COVID-19 regulations or block roads.

The protests were scheduled after the Lagos state judicial panel decided to hand-over the keys to the toll gate back to the Lekki Concession Company.

Collection of fees at the toll-gate had been suspended since the #EndSARS protests which culminated into a bloody shooting on October 20 by military officials.

While some protesters are defending the decision to reopen the toll-gate, others want it reviewed.

READ ALSO: Any Violence In The Name Of #EndSARS Will Not Be Tolerated This Time – Lai Mohammed

“Our attention is drawn to the planned protest scheduled for Saturday February 13, 2021 at the Lekki Toll Gate for and against the opening of the Admiralty Toll Gate,” a statement from the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, said on Thursday.

“The State is aware of Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which guarantees the Rights to Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly. However, such right does not permit the violation of the Rights of other citizens in the State.

“While the State recognises the importance of exercising the Rights to Peaceful protests, same cannot extend to blockage of roads and or preventing other members of the public from enjoying their Fundamental Rights to move freely within the State.

“Any person or group with such desire to Protest must also bear in mind the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Regulations 2021 which prevents any gathering beyond 50 and other safety measures including but not limited to maintaining Social Distancing and the use of face mask.

“The Attorney General hereby enjoins everyone to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 Regulations and any other extant laws in the State. The right to protest peacefully does not exempt anyone from violating laws. Any violator will therefore be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

The statement, signed by the State’s attorney-general Moyosore Onigbanjo,
added that the government will not tolerate any form of violent actions and urged the police to respect the right of citizens.

“Furthermore, any individual or corporate body who incites or condones any act leading to the destruction of public and private properties shall be prosecuted under the extant laws and in addition to any penalty the court might pronounce, such person or body will be liable to compensate for any damage which is as a result of the action or inaction of such person or body,” it said.

“The Nigeria Police is equally urged, that in responding to any protest, it should respect the rights of the citizen as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and carry out their duties in accordance with the law.”

Any Violence In The Name Of #EndSARS Will Not Be Tolerated This Time – Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has warned those planning a fresh protest at Lekki Toll Gate to shelve their plans as violent protests will not be tolerated.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who gave the warning while addressing journalists on Thursday, in Abuja, said every Nigerian has the freedom to protest but violence in the name of protests will not be condoned.

Mohammed said based on Intelligence there are high chances that the protest which is planned to take place on February 13, 2021, at the Lekki Toll Gate will be hijacked by hoodlums.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS Aftermath: CBN Must Desist From Jumping Into The Political Arena – Falana

“Some #EndSARS proponents have given notice of their plan to return to Lekki Tollgate. They want to return there on Saturday, February 13, this year.

“The #OccupyLekkiTollgate flyers have been circulating online with the proponents threatening that Lagos will burn again.

“Let me be clear, while peaceful protests are constitutional rights of Nigerians, violent protests are not.

“At this time, the chances that any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high. Any resort to violence in the name of #EndSARS will not be tolerated this time,” the Minister said.

A file photo of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

 

He also noted that the government is watching the roles being played by social media platforms on the planned protest and that security agencies have been placed on red alert to stop the violence.

“We therefore strongly warn those who are planning to re-occupy Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday to desist.

“We know that many of those who have been loudest on social media in advertising the plan to reconvene in Lagos on Saturday are not even in Nigeria. They are elsewhere around the world fanning the embers of violence and inciting gullible people back home. No one should fall for their antics,” he added.

Some youths had earlier threatened to hold a fresh protest at the Lekki tollgate following plans to reopen it for operations.

Using various hashtags including #RevolutionNow and #OccupyLekkiTollGate, on social media, the posters plan to occupy the tollgate on Saturday, February 13, 2021.

CBN Cannot Appeal The Unfreezing Of #EndSARS Campaigners’ Accounts, Says Falana

 

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana says the Central Bank of Nigeria cannot appeal the court judgment unfreezing the bank account of 20 #EndSARS campaigners.

Falana, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Thursday, said the apex bank failed to conduct an investigation into the allegation of terrorism and money laundering levelled against the #EndSARS campaigners, and as such, no offense was established.

The human rights activist noted that while both sides in the matter have withdrawn from the case, his clients would go on to challenge the “gross violation” of their rights to their property.

drag the Federal Government and the CBN to court for trampling on their rights by unlawfully freezing their accounts last October out of “sheer intimidation”.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS Aftermath: CBN Must Desist From Jumping Into The Political Arena – Falana

The senior advocate asked the CBN to stay out of politics and stick to the business of banking.

Following the #EndSARS protest that rocked the nation in October 2020, the CBN obtained an injunction from the court to freeze the accounts of certain individuals and a public affairs company linked to the protests, a move which Mr. Falana describes as a case of sheer intimidation.

Falana argued that the apex bank went out of its way went it froze the campaigners’ accounts argued that the CBN misled the court into believing that some grave offenses had been committed, which would require time to run an investigation.

“I do hope that sufficient lessons have been learnt particularly by the Central Bank to desist from jumping into the political arena by attempting to freeze the accounts of people who are involved in the struggle one way or the other against the government,” he stated.