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Tinubu recommends indefinite closure for Lekki toll-gate operation, others

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

As a mark of respect to EndSARS protesters that suffered varying degrees of injuries particularly at Lekki tollgate, the National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has recommended that the Lagos State Government shut the toll plaza for an indefinite period.

Tinubu further stated that should the government decided to reopen the tollgate, considering its importance to ease vehicular movement, the revenue realised should be donated to the confirmed victims of the Lekki attack as well as to other identifiable victims of police brutality in Lagos.

He stated that rather than budget funds annually, revenue realized from the facility should be used to compensate and cater for those that have lost some part of their bodies in the struggle for citizens to have quiet and enjoy their life without fear of undue harassment at checkpoints.

The APC national leader, who made the recommendation after visiting the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to commiserate with him on the attack on protesters and destruction of public facilities, stated that the lives lost cannot be replaced forever.

Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos, cautioned Nigerians against blaming the EndSARS protesters for not leaving the tollgate and other destructions that occurred over their action and that they should not rush to conclusions or action that may prove to be against general interest considering its enormity in the country.

Through a statement made available to The Guild on Sunday, Tinubu noted that aside from the lives that were lost, sources of livelihoods have also been impaired by the violence that occurred after the shooting that occurred at the toll gate.

While empathizing with relatives of the deceased victims and others that suffered bodily injuries, property, and financial losses, he stressed that injustice should not be measured by the number of dead or wounded rather should be based on the facts that come out of a thorough investigation.

He stated that though the government had inaugurated a panel of inquiry to investigate what transpired at the scene, a totally accurate picture of the events may never be known and that was why he had refused to speculate on possible number of casualties after the attack.

“At bottom, the toll gate is a public asset. Given what has happened, I would like to propose to government that the toll gate be left closed for an indefinite period. If it is reopened, revenues should be donated to the confirmed victims of the Lekki attack as well as to other identifiable victims of police brutality in Lagos. Let government use the money to compensate and take care of those who have lost life or limb in the struggle for all citizens to go about the quiet, peaceful enjoyment of life without fear of undue harassment at this or that checkpoint”, he added.

After the investigation, the former governor recommended that the state government should amend terms of engagement for deployment of military forces in instances of mostly peaceful civil disobedience and protests.

According to him, although one of our nation’s most respected institutions, the military is not adequately equipped and trained to deal with such situations. It is placing a burden on the military they are ill-suited to carry.

Aside from this, the APC national leader suggested that there was need for the government to take legal actions to allow for the creation of state police for the state, just as he noted that such creation should be based on modern tenets of community policing and optimal relations as well as cooperation with local communities.

“Measures such as these are needed to cure present gaps in how military and law enforcement treat the general public. These proposals are important and they do not hamstring proper law enforcement and security operations. We know there are criminal elements in society primed to harm people and seize property. We expect this of criminals. What is not expected is that people will be brutalized and scarred by those commissioned to protect and serve them. This anomaly must end”.

While commending the Federal and state governments response to the protesters demand including scrapping Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) he cautioned that the governments should endeavour to address cases of recurrent brutality and violence which ignited the protest.

“For, if these protests can generate meaningful reform, our youth will have achieved a compound national success. First, they would have ended the terrible matter of institutionalized police brutality. Second, Nigeria would have made an important accretion to our political culture whereby government listened to and acted on the recommendations of ordinary people protesting against the wrongs done them.

“This would establish a healthy precedent. Yet such durable progress can be made only if government respects the protesters and protesters actively negotiate with government. No steps should be taken by government to curtail protest activity as the people have chosen this vehicle as their preferred way to interface with government on this issue’.

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