By Eric Elezuo
All eyes are on the Lekki Toll Gate, venue of the proposed protest by Nigerians this Saturday, especially those who supervised and participated in the October 2020 #EndSars protests, which culminated in the brutal shootings of October 20, and allegedly claimed lives.
The crises had resulted into the setting up of a Judicial Panel of Enquiry to ascertain the extent of destruction and killings, especially as it involved Nigerian security apparatuses. The panel has been sitting since December when it was inaugurated.
In Lagos, which appeared to be the cynosure of the nationwide crises, had so far recorded an avalanche of complaints, detailing the insensitivity of the police as well as their blood thirsty nature, surprisingly resulting in the loss of lives of many young Nigerians. It will be an understatement to say that the stories that have come out from the panels so far, have been blood chilling.
To prove the transparency of the panel, the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his team, had injected some young people into the panel, some of whom were part of the #EndSars protests. Oduola Rinu was one them.
However, on Saturday, February 5, the panel decided to reopen the Lekki Toll Gate, citing commercial concerns among other economic parametres as its reason. The votes that were called gave those that voted for reopening a unanimous victory.
But Nigerians reacted, and a decision was reached to reopen the Protests as well. If the venue used for the massacre has been opened without due recourse to as many that lost their lives, it well that the Protests that led to the killings be also reopens. Consequently, Saturday, February 13, was selected for the day to reopen the Protests.
Lending her support, Oduala, the member of the panel representing the youth constituency, resigned from the panel, citing government’s insincerity and cover up.
“Let me be clear: I chose to honour the invitation to represent my peers and to stand as an example that any Nigerian has the right to demand accountability of elected government officials and that our institutions, however flawed, can still deliver justice.
“What I will not do is be part of a cover-up,” she said in part.
Ms Oduala, 22, was among those whose bank accounts were frozen by the Nigerian government in the wake of the October 20 killing of peaceful protesters by soldiers at the Lekki Tollgate.
Two days ago, a federal court in Abuja ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria to unfreeze her account and that of 19 others.
But prior to this day, the Nigeria Police, in unprecedented show of force, have unleashed its officers and men in their numbers, all garbed in warlike apparels with heavily equipped vehicles to quell any protest. They have dared anyone who is not afraid, to come out.
On the other hand, the protesting youths have said come what may, the protests will go on. There is therefore uneasy tension at the Lekki Toll Gate end.
A protester, who spoke to The Boss, wondered how and why it was so easy to mobilise such a great army of security operatives within a short period of time when just a few days ago, touts and miscreants had had a field day at Obalende, right in front of Kam Salem House, unleashing mayhem.
Observers and stakeholders have asked if there is a law against peaceful protest, saying in clear terms that Nigerians should be allowed to protest. The Federal Government, on the counter, has said no protest must hold.
All fingers are crossed, waiting to see how the drama will unfold as protesters dare security operatives.