The Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Muhammad Adamu who had been under ‘fire’ recently over his tenure elongation by president Muhammadu Buhari, has received fresh knocks from Nigerians after the arrest of EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday.
The EndSARS protests that led to the death of many Nigerian youths across the country late 2020, resurfaced when the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry which was set up to by the state government to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killings by the Nigeria Police, ordered the reopening of the Lekki Toll Gate where Nigerian Military allegedly killed many protesters on October 10, 2020.
Following the reopening of the facility, the protest organizers with the hashtag #OccupyLekkiTollgate scheduled a fresh protest which commenced on Saturday.
Muhabarishaji recalls that despite threats from the Federal Government to forestall the resumption of the EndSARS protests, many youths stormed the toll gate on Saturday morning, vowing to shut down the facility.
Muhabarishaji had reported that the Nigeria Police arrested a popular comedian, Debo Adebayo, also known as Mr Macaroni, and many others during the #OccupyLekki protest in Lagos.
In a video making the rounds on social media, the arrested protesters were allegedly brutalized by men of the Lagos State Police Command.
The arrest and brutality have triggered reactions from many Nigerians as many have ascribed the development to the IGP’s incompetence in handling such cases.
A member of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, Mr Dare Falani told Muhabarishaji correspondent in Abuja that the alleged order by the Nigerian Police to arrest and ‘brutalize’ unarmed protesters was condemnable.
“Are the policemen not Nigerians? Are they not affected by the innumerable hardship? Are we not using the same market or is their own price different?
“I don’t see any reason why the youth will be demanding end to bad governance which has affected all of us negatively, then another fellow will beat them up just because they (officers) want to please their boss who has no regards for humanity,” Falani stated.
Mrs Elizabeth Chukwu, a trader in Wuse Market Abuja also said, ” As far as I am concerned, the office of the IGP is currently vacant. Adamu has completed his tenure and should have been made to vacate the office while we trust God for a competent successor.”
Reacting to the arrest and molestation of the protesters by some police officers, a legal practitioner in Makurdi, (Name withheld), told Muhabarishaji correspond that every Nigerian has the right to protest. According to him, “Protest is simply the expression of disapproval and objection. It can come in different forms, verbal, written, physical, gesture, social media and others. Both under the constitution of Nigeria and under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, persons in any part of Nigeria have the fundamental human right to privately and publicly protest over any issue, any time and any day.
“This right is captured under section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, it provides that ‘every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
“Protests play an important part in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural life of all societies. Historically, protests have often inspired positive social change and improved protection of human rights, and they continue to help define and protect civic space in all parts of the world.
“Protests encourage the development of an engaged and informed citizenry and strengthen representative democracy by enabling direct participation in public affairs,” he said.
Meanwhile, Abdulaziz Muhammed, a Civil Servant in the Federal Capital Territory, argued that the protest was needless, stressing that their grievances had been registered in the 2020 EndSARS protest, hence the Saturday protest was unimportant.
“I really can’t imagine we are talking about EndSARS this 2021 after the shock we had in October last year.
“They claimed they are protesting against bad governance and I ask, can they point to one thing that has changed since the Lekki shooting and the killing of protesters when the protest was hijacked by hoodlums?
“And if nothing has changed, then why stimulating something you know that would still lead to pains.
“I’m not in support of the fact that the protesters are being molested by the security personnel, but I think getting them arrested can serve as a deterrent to others,” he said.
However, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has condemned the molestation of the arrested protesters and demanded an immediate investigation into the incident.
The Lagos CP in a statement on Sunday, ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Police, State CID, Panti, DCP Adegoke Fayoade, to analyse the viral video which captured some officers maltreating the protesters and figure out the offenders.
The Commissioner charged the DCP to ensure that the erring officers are brought to book.