By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has denounced the forceful arrest and taunting of scores of peaceful #EndSARS protesters in Lekki, by thhe Nigeria Police, describing the development as unacceptable and demand their immediate and unconditional release.
The arrests occurred this morning (Saturday 13 February 2021) at the Lekki Toll Gate where the protesters converged to express their displeasure over plans to reopen the toll gate even as the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate the October 20, 2020 killings is yet to wind up work.
Some passers-by are also said to have been arrested by the men of the Nigerian police who turned up in full force at the toll gate and now projecting menacing force.
Video footage circulating on social media show some of the arrested protesters crammed in a Black Maria and being derided by the police in scenes reminiscent of the military era when Nigerians’ right to converge and free speech was trampled underfoot.
In a statement issued in Lagos, by Philip Jakpor, Director of Programmes, CAPPA said: “We are shell-shocked that in the 21st century the Nigerian police is still dehumanizing Nigerian citizens by forcefully stopping their legitimate right to converge and protest and clamping them like rabid animals into the dingy Black Maria.”
CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “We saw video footage of the shameful display of bestiality by the police. It is disheartening to know that we have descended this low as a country and a people to stiffle peaceful protests. ‘
“Through their repressive tactics the police have not only violated the rights of these citizens to protest but also exposed them to the coronavirus by clamping them into the poorly ventilated Black Maria. This is totally unacceptable and unimaginable.
Oluwafemi stressed that the only sin of the young protesters is that they have refused to be cowed by the state that is more interested in making profits on the blood of the alleged victims of the Lekki toll gate shootings who were only fighting for our common good, including that of the policemen who are perpetrating this tyranny.
“The Lekki toll gate remains a crime scene and should remain shut. This is the demand of the protesters and it is within their rights to demand this without molestation.
“We are surprised that our security agencies that have remained largely docile in the face of rampaging bandits across the country came out in full force against those they have sworn to protect. It is shameful and totally reprehensible.”
This sad and shameful incident reopens the wounds of the 20 October 2020 Lekki shootings which was allegedly perpetrated by soldiers and policemen with the result being the death of scores of patriotic citizens armed only with our national flag.
“We are using this medium to demand the unequivocal release of the protesters, a probe of the response of the police to this incident and full apology by the Lagos State Government for permitting this anomaly on its soil”, Oluwafemi insisted.