The Lekki tollgate plaza in Lagos State has been surrounded by security operatives, including police and soldiers hours before the first anniversary of #EndSARS nationwide protests.
A rally has been planned by youths in the country to commemorate the first anniversary of EndSARS protest against police brutality that rocked major cities in the country last year.
The protests was ended abruptly after October 20, 2020, following a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate, the epicentre of the demonstrations.
#EndSARS which first started as a campaign to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit, notorious for extortion, torture and extrajudicial killings later snowballed into wider protests against bad governance.
It led to the suspension of the unit by the authorities who promised reforms. However, the youth were sceptical and continued to protest – until the Lekki shootings.
Ahead of the anniversary, the police released a statement banning outdoor protest.
In the statement titled, ‘#EndSARS anniversary: No streets protests in Lagos’, police spokesperson, Adekunle Ajisebutu, said there may be a breakdown of law and order if the protests are allowed to hold.
The statement read, “The police will only allow an indoor and virtual event in commemoration of the EndSARS anniversary and will provide adequate security at the venue (s) if known. This is in recognition of rights of every Nigerian to express his or her interest.
“We wish we could permit such street protests. However, intelligence at our disposal has revealed plans by some faceless groups or individuals to stage an anti-EndSARS anniversary protest in the state the same day.
“In view of the conflicting interest between the pro and anti- EndSARS anniversary groups and threat to cause mayhem, the Command once again warns both groups against any form of street protest between now and 20th October, 2021 and beyond.
“It is acknowledged that citizens have the right to peaceful protests. However, in this instance having carried out a critical security assessment and intelligence report at the disposal of the Lagos Command in respect of the planned protests and attendant implications on public safety, the Command considers it inappropriate to allow such protests to hold. It will not stand aloof and allow the breakdown of law and order which the protests may cause.
“To avoid a recurrence of the gory protests of last year during which some innocent Nigerians including police officers were gruesomely murdered, private and public property plundered and maliciously destroyed, the police will not abdicate their responsibilities of protection of lives and property by allowing such avoidable incident happen again in the state
“Therefore, in the interest of security and public safety, the Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, wishes to warn the organisers of the protests that the police will deploy all legitimate means to stop or neutralise the planned protests.”