There was panic on Thursday at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos State as armed policemen from the State Police Command stormed the hotel where some people were having a conference on how to “break Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s political hold on Lagos State”.
At least one person was believed to have been killed, while several others allegedly sustained injuries.
The gunshots were said to have caused panic, with motorists and traders operating along the Ikeja axis fearing that men of the underworld had stormed the hotel.
At least 10 police vans, filled with armed policemen, streamed into the airport hotel premises, disrupting the conference, which was about to start.
The policemen allegedly stopped guests from entering the hall of the conference.
The conveners of the group comprise former President of the Nigerian Bar Association; Olisa Agbakoba; Spokesperson of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin; Mark Adebayo; and Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, among others.
The conference was organised by a group: “Orange Movement for a Free Lagos State,” with the theme: “Setting Lagos free from Bourdillon Bondage, #OtogeLagos.”
The group decided to stage a rally with the aim of strategizing and convincing Lagos residents to vote against the APC governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in the governorship election scheduled to take place on March 9.
The conveners, activists and protesters reached the venue as early 7am in four buses.
They were about to commence the programme of the day when a team of policemen comprising Rapid Response Squad and other conventional policemen stormed the venue.
One of the traders along that route, who introduced himself as Ade, said: “Even as the policemen were shooting canister of tear gas into the midst of the protesters, they kept chanting ‘Oto’ ge’, ‘enough is enough’.
“They said Tinubu should leave them alone in Lagos to choose who they want to lead them.
“While this was happening at the hotel, another set of protesters appeared from the direction of Allen Avenue and started hurling bottles at the armed policemen.
“Some of the policemen and protesters sustained injuries.
“I saw some of the injured protesters dragged into one of their buses.”
A Bureau De Change operator, Shaba Ali, said drivers, who thought robbers were operating, abandoned their buses and passengers and fled.
Ali stated: “It was after the policemen left the scene that we heard that one of the protesters was killed by a police bullet.
“They said he died in the hospital.
“The first set of policemen deployed couldn’t handle the protesters, they radioed for re-enforcement.”
The money changer claimed to have heard some of the protesters shouting that a vote for Sanwo-Olu meant an extension of Tinubu’s rule in Lagos State.
Adebayo said nobody should entertain fear in the project of freeing Lagos from the bondage of one man.
This was even as he alleged that violence in some parts of Lagos, which marred the presidential and National Assembly elections, was deliberately caused by agents of bondage, who hired thugs.
Adebayo said: “Citizens were not only free to participate in voting, but must enjoy the free will to cast same for candidates of their choice.
“We were deeply concerned about the control of the state’s resources by a group of people for several years.
“It is time to free Lagos State from bondage and allow the will of the people to prevail.
“Lagosians must free themselves and their future in the coming election.
“They must challenge the political hegemony that had maltreated them and cornered their resources.
“Enough is enough.
“Every resident of Lagos residents must rise and use their PVCs to vote for freedom, justice and development in the March 9 governorship and state assembly elections.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Chike Oti, said: “The group did not seek permission before embarking on the protest.
“Nobody died during the protest.
“We don’t want a repeat of what happened is some parts of the state.
“The group gathered at the Airport Hotel without informing the police about their gathering and there was nobody to hold responsible.
“When we learnt about the arrival of the group about to embark on protest, we quickly sent our men there.
“But it turned out to be a riotous mob.
“The only thing we could do was to disperse them with canisters of tear gas.
“We didn’t want the situation to degenerate into something else because members of the group had been throwing objects.
“We didn’t want innocent people to be affected or vehicles damaged, hence the resort to firing canisters.”
The slogan Oto ge was first used in Kwara State, meaning enough was enough.
Kwara citizens used the slogan to break the strangulating political hold of the Saraki dynasty on the state.
Many political observers feel such political emancipation from the APC, which had been ruling Lagos for decades, can also be broken.