The arrest of about 40 persons who protested peacefully against the reopening of the Lekki Toll Gate Plaza penultimate Saturday in Lagos State, sparked off pervasive anger. The protesters including the popular comedian, Debo Adedayo, also known as Mr. Macaroni, were hounded by armed policemen, thrown into waiting Black Marias, vans and whisked away. Although they were later released. Many Nigerians have said the protesters were unjustly harassed and dehumanized while a few hold a contrary view. Nigerian Bar Association, Senior Advocates of Nigeria, activists and human rights groups have condemned the arrest of the protesters. The Nigerian Bar Association, in a statement by its President, Olumide Akpata, described the arrest of the protesters as illegal and unacceptable and demanded their immediate unconditional release. What is your take? BARBARA NEGBEJIE seeks the views of select Nigerians.
‘Government has responsibility to protect lives and properties’
There are two angles to the protest. Firstly, the responsibility of the government to protect lives and public property. The destruction of property and loss of lives as experienced in the last protest in my view is the reason government is avoiding at all cost any more protest. This has informed the use of the police and nature of arrest made during this latest protest. Secondly, freedom of speech and lawful assembly. It is true that we have these fundamental rights but the timing and atmosphere is not right. The only way it would have happened successfully was if due approval for a peaceful protest was obtained from the law enforcement agencies. However, there is social media and there is the court, these avenues can be explored to pursue the matter. There must be change of strategy to win wars.
‘The government does not care about the views of the people’
The government does not care about the views of the people. What they have in mind as individual persons or as people in power at this point in time is what they would do. The #EndSARS protest arrest penultimate Saturday further serves as an eye opener and a reminder for us as a people that the governments are not in any way interested in the desire(s) of the electorate who voted them into power. It is therefore imperative that the people come together in unity and speak in one voice against tyranny, oppression and injustice.
‘It’s a shame. Why don’t governments use this same energy to face the kidnappers, bandits and Boko Haram’
To me I feel, the government herself is afraid of the youth, and she will do anything to stop it, on Friday evening when I was watching the clips of police officers deployed to Lekki toll gate, I was so amazed, so we have armour equipment and police like this yet, we are battling with insecurities all-round the nation? Why not use this same energy to face the kidnappers, bandits and Boko Haram, but no, we can only face harmless citizens fighting for their rights. It’s a shame. A day will come, that we all will not be afraid again, police will arrest and get tired one day, and then we will make our voices heard.
‘The arrest and rough handling of peaceful protesters is a very sad development’
The arrest and rough handling of peaceful protesters is a very sad development. The people are questioning the re-opening of the toll gate against the closure for the alleged #LekkiMassacre; truth or false the people need the fact. It appears that the government is afraid of something. But the worst are those who undermine the protest with thugs and those who use the social media to do same. They claim to be patriots but they are the worst elements of our society.
‘FG is unrepentant of its cruelty and colossal injustice’
The action shows that the Federal government is unrepentant of its cruelty and colossal injustice to nationhood. It is an aberration to international pacts jointly endorsed by Nigeria. When this time bomb explodes, the proponents of such arrest will bury their faces in shame. The future of Nigeria bleeds and only the vibrant and articulate generation can midwife the arrival of a new Nigeria.