A member of the Lagos State Judicial Panel probing the Lekki Toll Gate ‘shootings’, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) on Tuesday appealed to #OccupyLekkiTollgate and #DefendLagos campaigners to shelve their planned protest and counter-protest slated for Saturday.
Five of four members of the panel last Saturday authorised the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to repossess the toll gate plaza after forensic experts submitted their report on the October 20, 2020 incident.
Opponents of the panel’s decision, mainly youths, expressed their outrage on social media and, using the hashtag #OccupyLekkiTollgate, threatened to protest at the plaza on Saturday.
A rival group of youths opposed the planned protest and mobilised youths on social media for a counter-protest of their own with the hashtag #DefendLagos and #DemNoBornDemPapaWell.
Adegboruwa, along with three other representatives at the panel, Olorunrinu Oduala, Temitope Majekodunmi and Patience Patrick Udoh, had opposed the decision of the panel to reopen the tollgate.
But, in a statement on Wednesday, the activist-lawyer said holding a protest against the decision of the panel to reopen the toll gate will undermine the progress made so far by the panel.
He said: “Whereas, it is reported in the news media that there are calls for protest and counter-protest, at the Lekki Toll Gate, slated for Saturday, February 13, 2021;
“The 1999 Constitution, in its Section 39, has granted to every person, the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and to impart ideas and information, without interference.
“Nevertheless, 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 20th October 2020, beyond the majority and dissenting decisions of 6th October 2021, all of which are purely interlocutory.
“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 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.”
Adegboruwa said he was concerned about the consequences of protests and counter-protests, at the same location, concerning security and likely violation of COVID 19 protocols.
He added: “The points made for and against interlocutory decisions of the panel have been noted and they will be collated for necessary action, in consideration of the final report of the Panel.
“While the assignment of investigating the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of 20th October 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, February 13, 2021, or any other date, be put on hold to abide by the final report of the panel.”