Barely four months ago, precisely, 20th October, 2020, the Nigerian Army unleashed terror on peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the LekkiToll Gate in Victoria Island. The dastardly shootings that occurred attracted condemnation, locally and internationally, even though the military that perpetrated the unprofessional act on the hapless Nigerians who were clad with the Nigeria flags have continued to deny the inglorious role on that fateful day and also chose not to appear before the panel of inquiry set up by the Lagos State government, to unearth what happened last October. The denial from the government Institution which the military represents and the accusations from the general public who insisted that the military were culpable for shooting unarmed and harmless protesters however informed the setting up of Panel of Inquiry by the Lagos state government, whose findings and final reports are still being awaited by the general public.
Suffice to say that common sense and cautions should have been applied before handing over and reopening of the toll gate to its original operators, Lekki Concession Company (LCC), for the simple reason that, the panel investigating the sordid event of that sorrowful day are yet to make their reports public, and again, most people invited to testify by the panel concerning the shooting before retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, have not fully complied. The reopening of Lekki toll gate, four months after innocent and peaceful Nigerian youths, #EndSARS protesters were felled by the bullets of those who were supposed to protect them even when the Lagos Judicial Panel has not officially concluded its job simply means putting the cart before the horse and the development to a large extent may discredit the final report that maybe likely submitted at the end of the assignment.
The closure of the Lekki toll plaza, immediately the heinous crime was perpetrated to a reasonable extent demonstrated to most Nigerians that the government was ready to address the issues and forestall a repeat of what happened but now that the toll gate is flung open and handed over to the owners without recourse to the ongoing investigation, paints a gloomy picture of how insensitive the government is on issues bordering on the generality of Nigerians, particularly in matters of life and death. We heard it on good account which was also widely reported that the reopening of Lekki toll gate divided the Panel members investigating the matter but how they were able to reconcile their differences within a short time is an issue for another time. The question now is, is the revenue to be generated from the toll plaza which is alleged may eventually go into private pockets worth more than the lives of those youths that were cut down in their prime by the military? Already the social media is awash with information of yet another occupation on the same Lekki toll gate by the Nigerian youths.
At the wake of #EndSARS protests, President Muhammadu Buhari in his address to the nation said he would not allow a repeat of Lekki incident. Yes, the consequences of second wave of #EndSARS protests surely would spell doom for the country but the governments owe it a duty to all Nigerians to come clean with its findings at Lekki and again address issues that gave birth to the protests across the country. This is not the time to keep quiet and wait till when the soldiers would run riot on the street, considering the already heightened tension on the land arising from insecurity and other threats that are scary, no thanks to the dwindling economy that has brought misery and despair to the faces of Nigerians, visibly for all and sundry to see. While we say capital ‘NO’ for another #EndSARS protests and occupation of Lekki toll gate again, we say unequivocally that the handing over of Lekki toll gate this time to its operators is ill-timed especially now that the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry has not submitted its reports, for the public to know what transpired at the toll plaza last year. We demand that the move be halted for now, to calm fraying nerves and those who may have lost their loved ones during the infamous military shooting. That is the only way government can win back the trust and respect of the people, especially the youths who were at the centre of the whole saga, and everyone across the country that are waiting to see that justice is served on those who carried out the shooting at Lekki on the 20th October, 2020.