Lagos, Nigeria: Following the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel to allow the Lekki Concession Company to reopen the Lekki tollgate where soldiers opened fire on peaceful protesters, killing many in cold blood on 20 October 2020, Nigerian youths protested on Saturday to show their dissatisfaction of the decision.
Despite the presence of heavy security operatives on ground, youths in another movement tagged ‘#OccupyLekkiTollgate’ and #EndSARS Season 2 still proceeded with their protest and not less than forty of the protesters were arrested by the Nigerian Police Force.
In some of the clips monitored online, Nigerian police were seen beating and arresting protesters, sparking angry reactions by some civil society organisations, human rights activist and Nigerians, saying they are executing their fundamental human rights.
Reacting to the situation, Amnesty International condemned the arrest and inhumane treatment of Nigerian youths by calling on the authorities to stop intimidating peaceful protesters.
The global human rights organisation called on the government to protect the right to peaceful protests in the country.
“Today Amnesty International received reports of the arrest of some protesters #EndSARS at the #Lekkitollgate #Lagos.
We are calling on all Nigerian authorities to demonstrate commitment to protect the right to peaceful protest. @MBuhari @ProfOsinbajo @jidesanwoolu @PoliceNG, ” Amnesty tweeted.
A civil society organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), also called for the release of all protesters arrested at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.
SERAP also said it will pursue legal actions if the arrested protesters are not immediately and unconditionally released. “We urge Nigerian authorities and the Nigeria Police Force to immediately and unconditionally release #EndSARS protesters detained simply for peacefully exercising their human rights. Authorities should also cease harassing people peacefully exercising their human rights.
“The United Nations and concerned governments should press the Nigerian authorities to end the crackdown on peaceful protesters, and unconditionally release those arbitrarily detained.
“We’ll pursue appropriate legal actions if the #EndSARS protesters arbitrarily arrested simply for peacefully exercising their human rights are not immediately and unconditionally released. Peaceful assembly is a fundamental right,” it said in a series of tweets.
The Center for Human and Socioeconomic Rights (CHSR) has also condemned the arrest of 18 peaceful protesters by the police at the Lekki Tollgate today in Lagos State while calling for their immediate and unconditional release.
The CHSR, in a statement, on Saturday emphasised that Nigerians had the right to peaceful protest and should, therefore, not be harassed by state agents and officials.
Former Vice President of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar also condemned the arrest of #OccupyLekkiTollGate protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday.
Atiku reacted to the situation on his twitter page saying that the security agencies are suppose to provide a secure conducive environment for citizens to protest peacefully in line with constitutional provisions.
He wrote: “The 1999 Nigerian constitution, as amended (Section 40) guarantees the right of citizens to peaceful protest. The courts have also affirmed that right. Anything contrary to that is not acceptable and stands condemned.”
Similarly, a Twitter user identified as @dp_ola said, “Let it be known that there is country called Nigeria where peaceful protest is a crime bigger than terrorism.”
Meanwhile, popular comedian and activist, Debo Adebayo, also known as Mr Macaroni, and 39 other arrested #OccupyLekki protesters, have been granted bail, according to the Lagos State Police Command.
The Police spokesman, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, made this known in a statement on Saturday evening.
The #EndSARS movement by the youths last year October was halted by the Nigerian soldiers when they opened fire on peaceful protesters in Lekki Lagos after 12 days of demonstrations against police brutality in the country.
The #OccupyLekkiTollgate movement organisers are set to reconvene again tomorrow demanding for end to police brutality.