Lagos govt, police read riot act over planned fresh #EndSARS protest

Lagos State government on Thursday warned protesters under the aegis of #OccupyLekkiTollGate and those against #DefendLagos from carrying out their action slated for this Saturday, saying anyone caught disrupting the peace of the state would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

The State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney- General, Mr. Miyosore Onigbanjo, gave this warning at a press conference he addressed at Alausa, Ikeja alongside his counterpart in Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu.

This was just as the police boss, Odumosu also warned against any form of protest in any part of the state as the security of lives and properties of the government and the good people of Lagos State was paramount and not negotiable, assuring Lagosians to go about their lawful businesses as adequate arrangement and deployment of
security forces to kick against and dislodge any violent protest, gathering and procession in any part of the state had been emplaced.

Onigbanjo, while noting that the state government was aware that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guaranteed rights to freedom of expression, among others, warned that the same constitution abhorred violation of other people’s right.

According to him, such guaranteed right does not permit anyone to block roads, to disrupt free flow of traffic or movement or block men of the police force from carrying out their lawful duties, warning those behind the planned protest and those against to desist as any person caught violating the laws would be arrested and prosecuted.

The commissioner, while reminding them of the COVID-19 protocols and the existence of the deadly variant of the virus, enjoined all citizens to keep to the rules, which stipulate fewer gathering of people, social distancing, among others, as violators of the laws in that regard would not be spared.

“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.

“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,” the commissioner further warned.

Speaking in the same vein, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Odumosu, declared in clear terms that organising any protest in furtherance of the recent violent and destructive #EndSARS protest would be counterproductive to the ongoing series of inquiries and investigations into many cases related to the #EndSARS violence and the present security situation of the state.

The police boss, who disclosed that the command had gathered intelligence that some hidden agents of destruction and shadow parties that planned and orchestrated the last #EndSARS violence had concluded plans to cause another set of mayhem in Lagos State and spread same to other parts of the country, maintained that any “calculated attempt to cause pandemonium, brouhaha and massive destruction of lives and properties under whatever guide and such will not be allowed in Lagos State.”

“The Lagos State, its people and the Nigerian nation at large are still groaning (in pains) for the aftermath of the last #EndSARS violence that left many lives and properties lost. It is, therefore, not reasonable to allow same to repeat itself in the state,” Odumosu said.

“More expedient why such gathering should not hold is the prevailing COVID-19 virus which is rampaging in the country. You will all recall four days ago, the Federal Government Task Force on COVID-19 declared that the country now has 13 variants of COVID-19 virus which makes it more deadly.

“With this development, all hands must be on deck to halt the spread of the virus by self-complying with its protocols major which is maintenance social distance,” he added.

The police boss, while maintaining that no protest would be allowed in any part of the state, enjoined “the general public, particularly parents and guardians, to discourage and warn their children and wards to ignore any unreasonable call or mobilization for protest or gathering which runs against the existing peace and security situation of the state.”

“I wish to also warn that the command will not hesitate to resist any protest and/or gathering with all available resources at its disposal but within the ambit of the law,” he warned.


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