The recent protest at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, #OccupyLekkiTollGate, has come, and though it may not be said to have gone, it has left a bitter taste in the mouths of not a few Nigerian youths.
The protest had been largely the response of the youth to the directive of the Lagos State Judicial Panel for the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to reopen the tollgate where soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters on October 20, 2020,
At the toll gate on Saturday, hardly had the protest begun than videos of police brutality, unleashed on the unarmed protesters, began to surface and before long, thanks to social media, these videos went viral.
Before the protest began, operatives of the Nigeria Police Force were seen on site, not just fully garbed but, in the opinion of some, overarmed. This begged the question of whether the police is always this ‘battle – ready’, or was it just a boastful show of force to send a warning signal to ‘lawless’ citizens to think twice before embarking on thier planned protest?
TheFact Nigeria went out to sample opinion from citizens:
Ibeh, Clement. Lagos, Businessman:
For me, it’s a misplacement of priority. We have other pressing security challenges in the country but the police chose to channel all its energy to harmless protesters.
It’s painful to know that the citizen have no right to voice out their grievances. Voice out and you could will be arrested or worst still be killed. A country where innocent citizens are being arrested for airing their voice and criminals are being granted amnesty and all. What a shame!
Martha. A. Accra:
I saw this picture on Saturday and it’s sickening. We have all this yet herdsmen are killing and terrorizing citizens?
Amaka Nwokobia, school teacher, United Kingdom:
The Police have been up to no good, arresting innocent protesters; the likes of popular comedian, Mr Macaroni. They should go on the roads and forests where we hear that kidnappers are attacking travellers, not to come and be girded in the wrong place.
Abel Maidoo, Educationist, Delta State:
By their look, it is glaring where they stand, and it is not on the side of citizens who they signed up to protect. They have allowed themselves be used as a tool to silence the voice that speaks truth to power and that is sad. They were there, not to disrupt the protests, but to ensure it was not hijacked by hooligans, and to guarantee the safety of the lives and property of the protesters. But they failed woefully at that. And that, sadly, is our reality
Ejenobi Cassandra, Civil Servant, Abuja:
I was surprised to see the police fully armed, and I almost thought they were going to war in Sambisa. It is laughable that they can be this armed against innocent, harmless citizens just asking for better governance. The had no intention of safeguarding lives; it was as if they were saying, ‘respect yourselves, or you have us to contend with’. And we know how things turned out. It is well.
Mathew Hassan, Youth Corp Member, Lagos:
It was just an empty show of force. Let them go to those parts of the country that are burning, like the North east, Ibadan, Benue and so on and show force there! Why don’t we see the police so dressed on their way to troubled zones? Why are they not so kitted at checkpoints on the country’s highways? Many lives have been lost in the hands of marauders, kidnappers and bandits along the highways and the stories are the same: there’s never a policeman on site. If they are always this kitted and much more present, it will make a difference.