A Lagos-based lawyer-cum-rights campaigner, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), on Wednesday appealed to Lagos residents to refrain from further protests at the Lekki Toll Plaza.
His appeal was contained in a statement, tagged: “Special Appeal to Nigerians/Lagosians on Protest and Counter-protest.”
In it, Adegboruwa, a member of the judicial panel of inquiry set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate and make recommendation on the #EndSARS protest of October 20, 2020, urged residents to tread with caution.
#EndSARS protest was an action to protest police brutality across Nigeria, but it ended with skirmishes, particularly at the Lekki Toll Plaza, following which claims and counterclaims of extrajudicial killings were made.
The plaza was consequently closed to business, but the panel of inquiry ruled last Saturday that the concessionaire, Lekki Concession Company, could return to the plaza to start the process of repairing damages and resuming business.
The decision led to plans by some groups of people to occupy the plaza on February 13.
In his 10-point appeal, Adegboruwa said while the 1999 Constitution guarantees citizens the freedom to hold opinion and express same, the planned protest should be shelved as the panel of inquiry was yet to make any recommendation.
He said: “I will like to plead most passionately that the protest and counter-protest be shelved, at least for now based on the reasons stated hereunder.
“The judicial panel of inquiry is still sitting and it is yet to make any finding or recommendations on the Lekki Toll Gate incident of October 20, 2020.
“The alleged bloodshed, mayhem, repressions and violence of October 2020 in general should not be encouraged to be repeated again.
“The panels of inquiry that were set up were all done in response to the #EndSARS ‘Five for Five’ demands; it will be good to await the decisions of these panels.
“A protest or counter-protest at this time may work to jeopardise the overall work of the panel, the witnesses appearing or to appear, the testimonies, the investigations or even affect its ultimate assignment.
“I am concerned about the consequences of protests and counter-protests at the same location in relation to security and likely violation of COVID-19 protocols, given the rising wave of the pandemic in Lagos State especially.
“While the assignment of investigating the Lekki Toll Gate incident of Oct. 20, 2020 is yet to be concluded by the panel, it will be premature to proceed on it as the basis of renewed calls for protest and counter-protest.
“It is safer for now for the Lagos State Government and its agencies, the #EndSARS group and indeed all those concerned with the Lekki Toll Gate incident to await the final report of the panel.
“I therefore plead that the protest and counter-protest slated for Saturday, Feb. 13, or any other date be put on hold.”
Adegboruwa also appealed to all security agencies to embrace caution and demonstrate utmost respect for the fundamental rights of all citizens, including protesters, counter-protesters and non-protesters.