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LASG may adopt community-based approach for addressing ongoing violence

By Idowu Abdullahi,

Aftermath violence dimension that greeted protest against police brutality in Lagos State, the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has disclosed that his administration would be adopting community-based approach for closure of the ugly incident and embark on genuine reconciliation through effective justice system.

The approach, he said, had become imperative to douse the tension and calm nerves of all stakeholders, particularly the youths who feel betrayed by the government and those who swore to protect them in the country.

The Governor noted that the current situation demands efforts of all residents, particularly traditional rulers, community leaders, and opinion molders across the state by augmenting the government efforts towards bringing an end to the arsons and destruction of lives and properties across the state.

Speaking on Thursday morning during a live TV programme monitored by our correspondent, Sanwo-Olu noted that though the shootings in Lekki toll gate was against all known ethics of engagement, particularly against peaceful protesters, efforts were being put in place to unravel those behind the attack and bring perpetrators to justice.

He said that his government would be taking up the issues with the military hierarchy and that state-based investigations have commenced on the lekki toll shootings that claimed the lives of EndSARS protesters.

Sanwo-Olu who described the incident as unjustifiable explained that constituted military hierarchy was beyond the control of any state government and that the soldiers seen in various video clips online were not working on his orders.

He also clarified that the cameras at the toll gate were still there and functioning and that teams of camera experts would be deployed to analyze the footage for further investigations, adding that the Lekki Concession Company as a private company managing the toll gate put off the light on their discretion as against reports that the government ordered the action.

The Governor hinted that contrary to reports, the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) was not removed from the toll gate, stressing that what was removed from the facility were scanners used to assesses vehicles passing through the gate.

“It is not a camera for human beings. It is an infrared camera that just picks the tag on the vehicles. Security cameras for the plaza are still available. These are some of the footage that we are going to use for our investigation. Security cameras are installed on top of towers and they are there because I have seen them. Nobody can touch the security camera.

“These are things that we can leave open for citizens to come and verify when the panel of inquiries start. We will adopt this as evidence so that experts can come and review what kind of camera are those shown at the footage.”

On what supports he was getting from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government after his continued silence on the issue, Sanwo-Olu said he put calls through to the presidency with aim of speaking to the President, but he (Buhari) was engaged in other state activities.

Apart from that, he said the military leadership had reached out to him on ways they can be of help in restoring normalcy to the state and that they would be deploying soldiers to augment efforts of other security agencies to ensure things return back to normal.

Asked on what the state had lost to the arsons and other destructions, the governor hinted that necessary assessment was yet to be carried out and that such would make it impossible to actually ascertain the level of damage on government and private properties.

“Nobody has been able to go round to access the level of damage done by the hoodlums but from the pictures we have seen, the cost of repair will run into billions of naira.

“What we are dealing with now is bigger than COVID-19. The protests and the attacks on protesters have caused a huge setback for the state. There were so many programs that were supposed to kick off in October but have been placed on hold until the situation is laid to rest,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu assured that an investigation panel would be constituted and inaugurated by Monday to unravel the mystery behind the Lekki shootings and that other measures would be adopted to come out of the situation stronger after genuine reconciliation.

“The event (Lekki shootings) that happened about 7:30 pm on Tuesday was a total shock to me and my cabinet members. I did not know how we got to that kind of situation and it was just something that was completely unbelievable. I got a call from the wife of my cabinet member who said there were shootings around Lekki which I promptly made some phone calls to the right authorities and they said they hadn’t sent anybody down.

“The instruction was that the police would not be out until 10 or 11 pm because that is when we believed almost all of our citizens would have gotten home. So, I don’t know how we all got it all wrong, it was just something I couldn’t even explain. Like who gave the orders or instructions for the military personnel to be there? it is still something we are investigating and we have escalated our investigation to the highest level of military formation,” he added.

He added that the government may ease the 24-hour curfew introduced to mitigate further violence that was witnessed across the state on Wednesday.

“Once we see the streets are cleared up and all the agitation and high nerves have gone down, we might slow down the curfew by tomorrow (Friday) or next tomorrow (Saturday) at the latest,” Sanwo-Olu assured.

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